Gonzaga University’s commitment to diversity has been called into question by the 1887 Trust, an organization committed to promoting the Jesuit university’s Catholic identity.
While Gonzaga University perennially touts the value of diversity, diversity of viewpoints has been sorely lacking especially in a series of lectures called “The Flannery Lecture,” with orthodoxy being conspicuously absent.
The series, according to the University’s website, is intended to “further excellence in theological study and teaching at Gonzaga University.”
“As the years have rolled by, however, the lecture series has offered a steady parade of theological liberals who, in many cases, oppose Church teaching on important matters,” stated the Trust in their latest bulletin. “In fact, judging by the records of those invited to speak, the Flannery Lectures over the past ten plusy ears have been a decidedly one-sided affair.”
One professor reportedly told the Trust that the series has become “a celebration of radical ‘Catholicism’."
“Gonzaga’s student body has thus been denied a diversity of theological viewpoints, especially from those theologians who represent a more conservative or orthodox approach to theology,” the Trust reported. “Based on the ten-year record, we think observers might reasonably conclude that Gonzaga’s religious studies department itself could be fairly characterized as predominately theologically liberal.”
As evidence of the radical nature of the lecture series, the Trust listed the past 11 years of Flannery Lecture speakers including last year’s speaker, Dr. Richard Gaillardetz, McCarthy Professor of Catholic Systematic Theology at Boston College. Dr. Gaillardetz, according to the Trust, has asserted that a Catholic can vote for candidates who support abortion, so long as their policies align with the common good.
In 2012, Father Bryan Massingale, associate professor of thelogical ethics at Marquette University, delivered the lecture. Fr. Massingale is a public supporter of same-sex marriage.
Peter Phan from Georgetown University—whose book Being Religious Interreligiously: Asian Perspectives on Interfaith Dialogue was criticized by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for what they called "certain pervading ambiguities and equivocations that could easily confuse or mislead the faithful, as well as statements that, unless properly clarified, are not in accord with Catholic teaching"—also spoke as part of the lecture series.
In 2008 Gonzaga hosted Michael Himes, a theology professor at Boston College, who reportedly said on same-sex marriage: “If it is true that there are people who are irretrievably homosexual, then it is vicious to tell them they can’t get married. To tell someone they have to be celibate is absolutely mad.”
In earlier years, Gonzaga hosted Fr. Charles Curran who opposed Pope Paul VI’s encyclical rejecting artificial contraception.
This year’s lecture will be given by Dr. M. Shawn Copeland, Professor of Systematic Theology at Boston College. Her lecture is titled: "Toward A Mystical-Political Theology of Solidarity," who reportedly served on then Senator Barack Obama’s Catholic National Advisory Council.
Dr. Copeland also criticized the Vatican’s censuring of Sr. Margaret Farley’s book Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics, which states that the book ‘is not in conformity with the teaching of the church.’ Dr. Copeland “called the Vatican action ‘deeply disappointing and most disturbing.’”
“It seems, at the very least, fair to say that the organizers of the Flannery Lectures have not put a premium on orthodoxy when selecting speakers,” stated the Trust. “Nor could it be said that they have prized viewpoint diversity, although Gonzaga continually promotes diversity of every other kind.”
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