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Cardinal's surprise pro-family speech upsets US university

Vatican official Cardinal Francis Arinze sparked student and faculty protests at Georgetown University in Washington DC with a remark he made about homosexuals in his speech at a graduation ceremony.

A letter protesting against the speech was signed by about 70 faculty members at the Jesuit university and delivered on Wednesday to Dr Jane McAuliffe, dean of the university's school of arts and sciences.

Dr McAuliffe, a specialist in Islamic studies, invited Cardinal Arinze - Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship
and the Discipline of the Sacraments - to speak on Christian-Muslim relations at the school's graduation ceremonies last Saturday.

Instead, the Nigerian prelate told the graduates that happiness was found not in the pursuit of material wealth or pleasures of the flesh, but by fervently adhering to religious beliefs.

"In many parts of the world, the family is under siege," Cardinal Arinze said. "It is opposed by an anti-life mentality as is seen in contraception, abortion, infanticide and euthanasia. It is scorned and banalised by pornography, desecrated by fornication and adultery, mocked by homosexuality, sabotaged by irregular unions and cut in two by divorce."

Theresa Sanders, a professor of theology at the university, protested by leaving the stage where Cardinal Arinze was speaking. Other students upset with the comments also left, according to emails on a subscription list used by many of the university's gay and lesbian students.

Sydney Morning Herald

Georgetown University | 2003 Commencement | Speakers
Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue

23 May 2003