Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria, widely considered a top contender to succeed Pope John Paul II, angered students and faculty at Georgetown University with an antigay remark he made during a commencement speech delivered May 17. A letter protesting his speech and signed by about 70 faculty members at the Jesuit university was delivered Wednesday to Jane McAuliffe, dean of the university's school of arts and sciences, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
McAuliffe, a specialist in Islamic studies, invited Arinze, who is president of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, to speak on Christian-Muslim relations at the school's graduation ceremonies. Instead, the Nigerian prelate told the graduates that happiness is found not in the pursuit of material wealth or pleasures of the flesh but by fervently adhering to religious beliefs. Arinze then spoke of the importance of family to the Roman Catholic Church. "In many parts of the world, the family is under siege," Arinze reportedly said. "It is opposed by an antilife mentality as is seen in contraception, abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia. It is scorned and banalized by pornography,
desecrated by fornication and adultery, mocked by homosexuality, sabotaged by irregular unions, and cut in two by divorce." Some students and at least one faculty member got up and left the ceremony following Arinze's comments.