JOHN CORVINO’S STATEMENT IN RESPONSE TO AQUINAS COLLEGE’S CANCELING OF HIS SCHEDULED CAMPUS TALK:

On April 3, 2008, I was supposed to give a lecture at Aquinas College,
a Catholic school in Grand Rapids, Michigan. That morning I was
informed that the event was “postponed” so that an appropriate
Catholic response could be prepared; one week later, the event was
cancelled altogether by order of the school president, C. Edward
Balog.

I am very disappointed in President Balog’s decision. For over fifteen
years I have traveled to numerous schools, including Catholic schools,
to promote rigorous yet respectful dialogue on homosexuality and
ethics. My lecture at Aquinas was scheduled months in advance. The
organizers knew that, although I disagree with Catholic teaching on
the moral status of same-sex relationships, I have no desire to
distort that teaching, and I invite response from all sides. When
Aquinas officials suggested that a second speaker be present to offer
the Catholic perspective, I welcomed that suggestion.

By canceling the event, Aquinas administrators have robbed us all of a
valuable teaching moment—one where the Catholic position could be made
clear while alternative perspectives were articulated and critically
examined, in a spirit of rigorous free inquiry.

I am especially disappointed by President Balog’s explanation that “We
want to explore the issue from an academic perspective, not from the
perspective of an antagonistic attack to core Catholic values.” Anyone
with even a passing knowledge of my scholarly research and public
advocacy would recognize this description as a severe distortion of my
work. (I would especially encourage members of the Aquinas community
to read some of my many columns archived at the Independent Gay Forum
website, http://www.indegayforum.org/staff/show/92.html).

Several students are now organizing to invite me to speak later this
month at an off-campus location, not paid for by school funds. I look
forward to that opportunity, and if it happens, I invite school
administrators and other members of the Catholic community to come and
present their views. I believe that truth has nothing to fear from
serious public dialogue, and I welcome occasions for thoughtful
interaction.

John Corvino, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Wayne State University

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