WASHINGTON, DC (CWN) - Jesuit-run Georgetown University's administration bowed to pressure from students and alumni on Friday by agreeing to place crucifixes in all but one of the university's classroom buildings as a sign of the institution's Catholic foundation.

      Father Leo O'Donovan asked school chaplain Father Adam Bunnell to move forward "expeditiously" to put up the crucifixes, surprising advocates who expected any decision to come after a study of religious pluralism at the school to be finished in several months. The controversy began last spring when a student group called the Committee on Crucifixes began lobbying to have crosses placed in all classrooms. The administration demurred at first, citing the university's desire to balance its Catholic identity with its mission to educate people of all faiths.

      The debate reached a head in the fall when Father O'Donovan asked Father Bunnell to survey students, faculty, and campus religious groups on their opinions. Eventually groups of alumni became involved and even Cardinal James Hickey of Washington called on the university to put up the crucifixes. When asked why the decision on the crucifixes was speeded up, Father Bunnell said, "We wanted to have the non-negotiable piece affirmed first that we are Jesuit and Catholic."

      Father Bunnell said he will appoint a committee of students and faculty to select crucifix styles for classrooms and a variety of Christian and non-Christian symbols and artwork for the interfaith Bunn Center.

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February 24, 1998 volume 9, no. 39         DAILY CATHOLIC