Gonzaga University made national headlines last week after protestors submitted a petition to the school, claiming the institution had lost sight of its Catholic values by inviting Archbishop Desmond Tutu to speak at next month’s commencement, where he will be presented with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.
Benedictines like to say listening is the heart of monastic life. “Listen” is the first word of the Rule of St. Benedict that we follow. Listening to God, to each other, to the head of the community are all part of what defines who we are as monastics. But if we were to be really honest we would also say that listening is very difficult. So when I saw that some Gonzaga alumni were protesting the choice of Archbishop Desmond Tutu as a commencement speaker it struck me that listening is precisely what is so lacking in public and religious discourse in our society today.
One month from now Archbishop Desmond Tutu is slated to deliver the commencement address to Gonzaga University’s graduating class. A group of alumni, however, are saying he isn’t welcome and are urging administrators to withdraw their invitation to the primate.