Conservative US Catholics angered by Tutu invitation
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has been branded anti-Semitic and a champion of abortion by protesters who want him barred from a Catholic university in the US.
Tutu, who has accepted an invitation to receive an honorary doctor of laws degree and deliver a keynote speech at Gonzaga University, in Washington, on May 13, has hit back by saying he is "getting really bored with this stuff".
More than 800 people associated with the 8000-student Catholic university, once attended by singing legend Bing Crosby, have signed a petition calling the invitation to the Nobel laureate "a scandal" and demanded that it be rescinded. Those who have signed the petition include university alumni, staff and conservative Catholics.
Conservative American groups, including The Cardinal Newman Society, the American Life League and Traditional Family Property Student Action support the objection.
The petition states: "In addition to his position on abortion, Archbishop Tutu promotes same-sex 'marriage', the ordination of homosexual clergy and has made comments that are offensive to Jewish people."
But thousands of Americans rallied this week in support of Tutu, signing a counter-petition.
Michael Sherrard, head of Faithful America - a network of "progressive Christians", said the counter-petition had attracted 13400 signatures of people demanding that Tutu be allowed to attend.
"Their petition was obviously disturbing and embarrassing, but most Christians rightly see Archbishop Tutu as a moral and spiritual giant, a global voice for justice, freedom and peace."
The conservatives last month forced another college to "un-invite" Vicky Kennedy, widow of Senator Edward Kennedy, from making a speech because of her liberal views on sexuality.
John Weingarten, director of the pro-life group "40 Days for Life" and a co-organiser of the protest, said outraged Catholic parents had vowed to cancel tuition fees amounting to R24-million if Tutu were allowed to speak.