John Corvino, who was disinvited by Providence College
Catholic College Cancels Lecture by Pro-Marriage Equality Speaker

By Trudy Ring

Originally published on Advocate.com September 24 2013 8:24 PM ET

A Roman Catholic college in Rhode Island has rescinded an invitation to a gay philosophy professor who was to give a lecture in support of marriage equality, citing “fundamental moral principles” of the church.

Providence College canceled the lecture by John Corvino, chairman of the philosophy department at Wayne State University in Detroit, which was scheduled for Thursday, The New York Times reports. In a Saturday e-mail announcing the cancellation, Providence provost and senior vice president Hugh F. Lena referred to the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ 2004 statement “Catholics in Political Life,” which among other things says that “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.”

Corvino, in a statement posted on his website, took issue with Lena’s reasoning. “Both the person introducing me and I would state clearly that my views were not those of the Catholic Church; moreover, a respondent from the Providence College theology department, Dr. Dana Dillon, would follow immediately to explain the Church’s position on marriage,” he wrote. “Far from suggesting ‘support’ for my views, the College would have ample opportunity to express precisely the opposite.”

Corvino, the Times notes, “has spoken previously at more than 10 Catholic colleges and often appears in friendly debates with religious opponents of gay marriage,” including National Organization for Marriage cofounder Maggie Gallagher, with whom he collaborated on a book. As a solo author, he has a new book out, titled What’s Wrong With Homosexuality?

He had been eager to speak at Providence, a conservative college, because he feels he’s too often “preaching to the choir,” he told the Times. In speaking to not-so-supportive audiences, he said, “I want to convince them that same-sex marriage is not only possible, but is also a good thing, for the couple and good for society at large. But I also want to engage in a deeper dialogue about issues that we agree are important.”