Hugh F. Lena, the Provost of Providence College, has announced that a debate between John Corvino, a
noted proponent of same-sex marriage, and Sherif Girgis, one of the co-authors of the book, What Is Marriage?: Man and Woman: A Defense
(see CWR's June 26th review
will take place next spring. This follows on the heels of Dr. Lena's
cancellation of an appearance by Corvino at Providence. In his message, posted on September 25th
for Providence faculty, staff and student, Dr. Lena stated
The Administration’s decision to cancel the
event had nothing to do with Dr. Corvino. We were concerned, rather,
that the event had strayed from what had originally been proposed a
presentation of philosophical and legal arguments in support of same-sex
marriage by Dr. Corvino opposite a presentation of opposing arguments
by a similar person of national repute.
As most of you know, Dr. Dana Dillon, a
highly respected and accomplished member of our Theology Department, was
asked at the last minute to participate in the event. She graciously
agreed to do so. However, the Administration felt that it was unfair to
ask Dr. Dillon, a theologian, to debate opposite someone who would be
presenting philosophical and legal arguments, not theological ones.
Just as our cancellation of the original event had nothing to do with
Dr. Corvino, neither did we mean to imply that Dr. Dillon was incapable
of debating the issue. I apologize to Dr. Dillon if our intent was not
clear or was misinterpreted in any way. Along those same lines, I also
want to apologize to Dr. Christopher Arroyo who was instrumental in
working to organize the event and who continues to be engaged in its
rescheduling. In hindsight, we should have announced that the September
26 event was merely being postponed, not cancelled, until we could be
sure that it went forward in the format in which it was originally
As Anne Hendershott noted in a post two days ago on this blog, Dr. Lena has been roundly criticized from both inside and outside the Providence campus for his refusal to allow a pro-same-sex marriage presentation take place without a proper response:
Some on the faculty at Providence have protested the decision. According to an article published earlier this week in The New York Times,
Fred K Drogula, president of the faculty senate at Providence, said he
could not find a college policy dictating that every lecture must have
an equal opposing viewpoint. Further, Drogula said it was
"inappropriate" to invoke the bishops' document, "Catholics in Political
Life," because it applied primarily to politicians.
Drogula is wrong about that. The bishops' document clearly states: "The
Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor
those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They
should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest
support for their actions" (emphasis in original).
Professor Corvino a platform without an opposing voice on Catholic
teachings on same sex marriage would suggest that Providence supports
same sex marriagesomething that is contrary to Church teachings. The
Providence Provost made the right decision.
Read Dr. Hendershott's entire post.