More than 700 conservative faculty members and students have called for Archbishop Desmond Tutu to be stopped from speaking at a U.S. university because of his pro-gay views.
They have signed a petition demanding that Gonzaga University – a private Roman Catholic university in Spokane, Washington – find another speaker for its commencement ceremony in May.
At the ceremony, Tutu will also be awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.
The critics say that Tutu’s support for gay clergy and abortion rights are not compatible with the values of a Catholic institution.
“It goes against Catholic teaching and so much of what Gonzaga stands for, or at least should stand for,” Gonzaga law graduate Pat Kirby wrote in a letter to the university.
Another group, Faithful America, launched its own petition supporting Tutu’s speech, which has been signed by over 11,000 people.
It described those opposed to Tutu’s visit to the university as “extremists who’ve been waging a McCarthyist campaign of fear and intimidation.”
The university has said that it will not disinvite Tutu.
“We are privileged to welcome a world-renowned Christian leader and social rights activist whose faith-based lifelong dedication to the cause of justice so clearly resonates with our work as a University,” it said in a statement.
Tutu received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 and the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism in 1986.
He has called for the decriminalisation of homosexually in Africa, the acceptance of gays and lesbians by the world’s churches and for LGBTI people to be embraced as part of the human family.