April 19, 2000
volume 11, no. 78
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Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

President Cites Actions Contrary to Catholic and Jesuit Identity

    SPOKANE, WASHINGTON, APR 18 ( Fr. Robert J. Spitzer moved to protect the Catholic identity of Gonzaga University by cancelling a scheduled speech by a representative of Planned Parenthood to the women's studies club. The student group had invited Laurel Kelley to speak on reproductive freedom, clinic bombings, and the presidential election.

    The President's action has raised up strong reactions on both sides. Some students and faculty feel that by preventing this talk, Fr. Spitzer has compromised their academic freedom.

    For Fr. Spitzer, however, the decision has nothing to do with academic freedom, but rather with the school's Catholic and Jesuit character. In a statement on the Gonzaga web page, he explains, "Our Guest Speakers Policy states, 'The President reserves the right to deny usage of Gonzaga's facilities to any person or groups of persons whose values are blatantly contrary to those of the University or whose presence would, for some reason, seriously embarrass or compromise the University.' In as much as Gonzaga is a Catholic and Jesuit University, and Planned Parenthood's actions are blatantly contrary to this Catholic and Jesuit identity, I exercised my right as President to deny usage of Gonzaga's facilities to them."

    Since Planned Parenthood is one of the largest abortion providers in the world, their mission is simply irreconcilable with a Catholic University.

    Others have criticized the President for acting without first consulting other faculty members. However, Fr. Spitzer pointed out that the event was only publicized by means of handwritten announcements on the chalkboards, which did not identify the sponsoring group. "It took Student Life the better part of a day to identify who was inviting Planned Parenthood to use Gonzaga's facilities."

    Because of this, the cancellation could not be publicized ahead of time, and the Associate Dean of Students had to tell the students and reporters gathered for the talk of the University's decision in the matter. Fr. Spitzer explained, "When the Student Life representative arrived at the room where the talk was to be held, he was confronted by the press and had no options except to respond that the speech had been canceled. It is difficult for me to see how I could have discussed my position with the group extending the invitation when they seemed to have taken every step possible to avoid detection." ZE00041820


April 19, 2000
volume 11, no. 78

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