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USD Cancels Visit Over Academic’s Same-Sex Marriage Support

— The University of San Diego revoked a British theology professor’s speaking invitation last week because the professor signed a letter supporting civil marriage rights for same-sex couples in the United Kingdom.

Aired 11/2/12 on KPBS News.

The University of San Diego has withdrawn its speaking invitation to an English Catholic theologian. The professor signed a letter supporting civil marriage rights for same-sex couples in the United Kingdom.

Tina Beattie, a British theologian, writer and broadcaster.

The visit was planned for more than a year.

Tina Beattie, a professor of Catholic Studies at the University of Roehampton in London, was scheduled to give a lecture on how women are represented in art depicting sin and redemption at the University of San Diego on November 8.

The Catholic university withdrew that invitation on October 27. In a letter, University President Mary Lyons explained it was because Beattie publicly dissents from the church’s moral teachings. That dissent, she wrote, is inconsistent with the mission school's Center for Catholic Thought and Culture, which was supposed to host Beattie's lecture, and "with the intentions of those who have financially supported the Center."

Beattie was one of 27 prominent Catholics who signed an August letter to The Times of London supporting the extension of civil marriage rights to same-sex couples, a step that she said is not out of line with Catholic academic traditions.

“I only question those questions of morals and social ethics that Catholic theologians have always questioned or we would never change," Beattie said. "We’d still be living as they did in the Middle Ages.”

Beattie said the withdrawn invitation raises concerns about the school’s commitment to academic freedom. The University of San Diego did not respond to requests for an interview by this story’s deadline.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | November 2, 2012 at 4:37 p.m. ― 4 years, 4 months ago

What a shame.

Mary Lyons, you and your organization's archaic viewpoints only hurt the students of USD who are missing out on an internationally recognized professor.

I bet if a Catholic Church Boss from the Vatican who helped protect child molesting priests came to your university they would be welcomed with open arms.

It's quite disturbing that your University has discrimination and inequality as one of its "moral" pillars.

I hope that one of San Diego's other fine educational institutions invites Professor Beattie to speak so we don't miss out on having her visit San Diego.

By the way, this isn't the first time USD has done this - a little history in this article would make it better.

I am trying to remember who else they cancelled a few years back and my memory is failing me, but I remember reading the story and they ended up going somewhere else, I believe UCSD. Anyone remember??

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Avatar for user 'naturenerd'

naturenerd | November 3, 2012 at 9:29 a.m. ― 4 years, 4 months ago

As a Catholic institution, they have a right to invite who they want.

As an (alleged) institution for higher learning, they have diminished themselves by doing this.

As an alma mater, I am embarrassed and ashamed.

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Avatar for user 'naturenerd'

naturenerd | November 3, 2012 at 9:40 a.m. ― 4 years, 4 months ago

Duh. Meant to say as an alumni, I am ashamed and embarrassed!

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Avatar for user 'HarryStreet'

HarryStreet | November 3, 2012 at 10:09 a.m. ― 4 years, 4 months ago

I understand where the church is coming from. I'm catholic. But I don't know that we have the right to tell anyone they can't marry same-sex if they so choose. 50% of marriages between man and woman end in divorce. This doesn't show much commitment between man and woman, so for people to declare only man and woman may marry when we've made such a failure of this type relationship seems hypocritical.

As for following marriage interpreted by the church, I doubt any of us are so well-informed on religion that we may dictate to each other what we can and can't do. Even church officials interpret their religion as they see fit, which has been documented in books, movies, and so on.

Anyone disagreeing with same-sex marriage should think twice. If it's right for them, who are we to say otherwise?

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Avatar for user 'plak'

plak | November 3, 2012 at 5:40 p.m. ― 4 years, 4 months ago

The church has every right to prohibit the sacrament of Matrimony to same-sex couples, but it has no jurisdiction over civil law concerning marriage. It's sad that this institution has denied intellectual discussion on this point. Un-inviting the speaker is insulting and disrespectful. What a loss to the students and the community!

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Avatar for user 'mks310'

mks310 | November 4, 2012 at 7:26 a.m. ― 4 years, 4 months ago

I agree that the Church can take its own stance. They can make the call on the religious aspect, but certainly not the civil aspect.

To that end, as a high technology employer, it is critical to me to maintain a highly diverse and open workforce. I can't risk introducing closed-minded members inside my staff and so it is clear to me that I would run that risk in recruiting from USD. I need free thinkers:
they are the best engineers, best designers and so out of respect for my A-player employees who may not fit what a religious organization considers acceptable human beings, I must consider them an unacceptable source of talent.

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Avatar for user 'sdkelly'

sdkelly | November 5, 2012 at 11:07 a.m. ― 4 years, 4 months ago

A deplorable decision.

The catholic church has already abdicated all authority to even express an opinion on same sex marriages now that vast amounts of CRIMINAL same sex relationships are being exposed within their ranks that were covered up as a matter of institutional policy; …relationships that have certainly been going on for centuries in absurd extreme opposite of their anti-gay teachings and persecutions.

For the college to extend that defective moral judgment to the extent that it would cancel Tina Beattie's presentation on an unrelated subject just because of her more progressive opinions on same sex marriage is overtly stupid and demonstrates again how the catholic church is completely out of touch with reality and fairness and propagates that foolishness down to disrupt other valuable educational opportunities because of its divisive teachings. A college of higher learning should be able to see the value of her presentation on its own merits; not cancel it because she wants the church to evolve and move forward instead of becoming completely obsolete.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | November 5, 2012 at 11:15 a.m. ― 4 years, 4 months ago

Private university. They have the right to do what they want unless it is illegal or violates ed code.

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Avatar for user 'Really123'

Really123 | November 5, 2012 at 12:34 p.m. ― 4 years, 4 months ago

From USD's website...
Fostering peace, cultivating justice and creating a safer world
The Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice (IPJ) at University of San Diego sees peace as inseparable from justice and acts to prevent and resolve conflicts that threaten local, national and international peace by:

•building peace with justice by strengthening women peacemakers, youth leaders and human rights defenders;

•broadening constituencies for peace and justice by convening a wide range of stakeholders and serving as a resource to local communities, students, academics and practitioners;
•and developing, distilling and disseminating innovative approaches to peacebuilding leadership, policy, practice and advocacy.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | November 6, 2012 at 11:05 a.m. ― 4 years, 4 months ago

HarryStreet - USD is not making up the rules, the catholic church is not making up the rules. The prohibition of homosexual behavior comes directly from the bible, and though you may not be, there are thousands of theologians around the world who dedicate their lives to studying the bible, so they are "well-informed", and qualified, on the dictates of biblical religions.

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Avatar for user 'jenjen'

jenjen | November 6, 2012 at 11:59 a.m. ― 4 years, 4 months ago

The prohibitions on homosexual behavior are in the same places in the Bible as laws that many modern churches have abandoned. We don't kill adulterers or perform elaborate animal sacrifices, and most Christian churches no longer observe biblical dietary laws. Catholics are of course free to practice whatever they want and teach whatever they want. But USD is hardly a cloister and its graduates need to learn how to go out into the world and interact with all kinds of people. Covering your ears when confronted by people whose opinions you don't share and singing "la la la I can't hear you" isn't really good preparation for life in a diverse society.

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Avatar for user 'mccolgan55'

mccolgan55 | November 11, 2012 at 1:47 p.m. ― 4 years, 4 months ago

As a CATHOLIC University USD is REQUIRED to follow established church doctrine. If you choose to attend a CATHOLIC learning institution you already know this, read the USD mission and vision statements. It should not be a surprise that opinions contrary to current church teaching are inappropriate and not allowed. If you choose to attend USD and are NOT Catholic I would presume the reason to be you believe it is a great school, after all it isn't cheap. That doesn't mean you get to try and change their policy.
As a Catholic, I have a much harder time understanding how other supposed Catholic institutions such as Georgetown and Notre Dame can have speakers who are prominently anti-Catholic.

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