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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 18, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 20
Desmond Tutu speaks at Gonzaga commencement
Urges respect for all, including LGBTs
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Desmond Tutu speaks at Gonzaga commencement
Urges respect for all, including LGBTs

by James Whitely - SGN Staff Writer

On Sunday, May 13, the Most Rev. Desmond Tutu, Anglican Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, spoke at Gonzaga University's 2012 commencement ceremony in Spokane. Tutu voiced his belief in equality for all, including Lesbians and Gays, twice during his commencement speech, and was met with long applause.

Tutu's visit was not without controversy. Some alumni of the Jesuit institution felt that the former Anglican bishop couldn't represent the traditions and moral beliefs of the Catholic Church. After garnering approximately 700 signatures urging Gonzaga officials to revoke Tutu's invitation, a counter-petition was launched. It quickly received thousands of signatures from the student body alone, and the matter was settled.

'It has been said that the difference between knowing what needs to be done and doing what needs to be done is courage,' said Dr. Thayne McCulloh, president of Gonzaga University, introducing Tutu.

With six decades of activism under his belt, courage is something Tutu, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, has proven, through much adversity, he is not short on.

As is custom, Tutu received an honorary degree from Gonzaga, a Doctorate of Laws.

'It is a very, very great honor and privilege to be invited to give the commencement address on such an auspicious occasion,' Tutu told a filled arena of graduates and their families. 'It is remarkable that I am now a Bulldog [Gonzaga's mascot] & Thank you very much for this very wonderful honor, at this fantastic institution founded by some of the most remarkable minds in the Christian community.

'I can't resist young people. I am addicted. I have to tell you that they are some of the most incredible creatures in God's world,' said Tutu. 'You are actually the really distinguished people today.'

It was the drive and dreams of youth that was the key point of his address. He mentioned how youths in the Bible, such as Joseph, David, and Jeremiah, were sent forth to do God's work, and said it was not God making changes in the world, but his agents - young people.

'Dream!' shouted Tutu. 'Dream of a world where poverty is no more! Dream of a world that is marked by equity, where everyone has a decent life! We can have such a world. God says, 'Please, please dream.'

Tutu went on to speak of how students' dreams in particular have personally affected him.

'You helped to get Nelson Mandela out of prison! You helped to free us! Today we can speak of a free South Africa, a democratic South Africa!' said Tutu.

Tutu called for the young graduates to go out and create a world inclusive to all.

'Jew, Muslim, Christian. All & all, Gay, Lesbian, so-called straight. All!' said Tutu, to much applause.

As he finished his speech, Tutu received a long standing ovation from the entire arena in Spokane, the center of the anti-same-sex-marriage movement in Washington. On May 13, Spokane heard a Nobel laureate use God's name to defend the rights of all people, including LGBT people.

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