Gonzaga prez defends school

Gonzaga prez defends school

The president of Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, Fr. Robert Spitzer has offered a defense against accusations of discrimination against pro-life students. A few weeks ago, syndicated columnist Mike Adams reported that Gonzaga’s law school Student Bar Association refused to grant recognition to a student-run pro-life club because the club’s by-laws mandate that offers should be practicing Christians and pro-life. Radical, huh? Fr. Spitzer’s defense?

“The Law Student Handbook clearly states: ‘the SBA sponsors a variety of activities in which all law students are entitled and encouraged to participate. there’s nothing wrong here: “I have long been an international proponent of the pro-life movement.” What exactly does it mean to be a “proponent” of the pro-life movement. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you are pro-life yourself. Neither does it necessarily mean that you support the goals of the pro-life movement. Strictly speaking, it only means that you are a proponent of its existence. Strange language.

  • Fr. Spitzer has written one of the best pro-life books I’ve ever read, “Healing the Culture” which he has also presented on EWTN as a series of lectures.  He has started a national pro-life educational program based on the book.  He is an orthodox Catholic who is also a philosopher, physicist and apologist for the faith. 

    Having run a pro-life group at Georgetown University’s Law School, I can tell you that I would rather have run it at Gonzaga under Fr. Spitzer.  There is no reason why a pro-life club has to be limited to Christians, and I wonder if there isn’t something more to this story

  • I knew Fr Spitzer by reputation when I was a sacristan at the Jesuit parish near Georgetown University. He was a popular celebrant/homilist at the Sunday evening college/young adult Mass, and published his own pro-life “samizdat” newsletter that was popular with some of the student body. In his current position at Gonzaga U, he has come out vocally against the appearance of groups inappropriate to a Catholic university, including those labeling themselves as “pro-choice.”

    What is described here is not the Father Spitzer that most of us know. Something else is going on.

  • He’s also the founder of University Faculty for Life, a national organization with hundreds of members.

  • I just finished reading the article Dom has linked. The crux of the issue would appear to be, that the pro-life group at the Law School was disqualified from student funding, because it would not admit non-Christians. This would mean that Jews or Muslims attending the Law School could not join, assuming the group has its way.

    Did I read it right?

  • Mike Adams responds to Fr. Spitzer’s statement in his latest (March 8th) column at


    According to Mike Adams, last November the university’s College Republican group posted notices on campus about an event that they were sponsoring—namely, a talk by Dan Flynn, author of Why the Left Hates America.  Some university administrators thought that the word “hates” indicated that the talk would be an incident of “hate speech” and went about the campus removing the notice as well as imposing punishments (unspecified by Make Adams) on the College Republicans.  Fr. Spitzer intervened to rescind the punishments.

    Now Mike Adams thinks that Fr. Spitzer will not intervene this time, because “he spent his political capital last November and canuthor_email>
    2005-03-08 16:24:46
    2005-03-08 20:24:46
    Since when did Spitzer ever give a rat’s behind about “political capital”?

  • I know absolutely nothing about this situation other than this brief story. I do think a pro-life group should be able to exclude pro-choicers, however not exclude people based on religion. I have known atheists that are pro-life many muslims would be pro-life, et al.

  • Semdem,

    That’s a prudential choice.  Maybe being ecumenical would make for a more effective pro-life movement.

    But I should think that a Christian group has the right to form on a Catholic campus and have the right to restrict its membership to Christians.  And be supported in that right by the Catholic administration. 

    The university policy as I read it is dismal enough for a secular school. For a Catholic one it is abominable.  I expect a Catholic school to affirm and support the faith proactively in every facet of its life.  Otherwise there is no point to its existence.

    But Spitzer has a good rep.  I wonder what else is going on here.

  • I think the point here is to remember that a man is not God. The people rising to the defence of Fr. Spitzer are doing so because they know he is a good man. But it is a mistake to say that because he is a good man he is right about everything all the time. Life Principles is a good system but it is not without flaws. Gonzaga has failed to impress me as a good Catholic university. And who is surprised? Even with a good man at the helm, as we know with dioceses, an institution that has been corrupted is very difficult to fix. Lifesite did not, moreover, attack Fr. Spitzer. We asked some difficult questions about the univeristy’s policy and pointed out that it was odd because as every one knows, Fr. Spitzer is a respected member of the prolife community. The kerfuffle over this is more a matter of pro-lifers enjoying attacking their own. Do we remember who our friends are?

  • Based on what I’ve read here, its hard for me to be a Fr Spitzer fan.  He isn’t attacking pro-lifers, just Christian pro-lifers.  My knee jerk reaction is that the appearance of inclusiveness and phony ecumenism trumps everything on Catholic campuses these days—even the baby holocaust.  As I understand it, the problem was not that non-Christians were not accepted as members.  It was that they were not accepted as officers.  In other words, there is a concern to keep the focus of the group Christian on a Catholic campus, and it certainly is odd to see a Catholic priest objecting to this.  If non-christians are bellyaching about not being able to run things, then we are talking about a power struggle, and that should be a matter for members to settle, without interference from administrative flakcatchers, collared or otherwise.

  • No, what is meant is that the Gonzaga Law School (which receives federal funds) has policy which requires that all student groups who receive funding from the Gonzaga Law School (which therefore means that they indirectly receive federal funds) do not discriminate in any in their membership including the election of officers. We are dealing with with a law school folks and guess what: they are made up of lawyers. Lawyers are sticklers to the law (which for some reason most of usually think this is a good idea) and they are not going to allow a student group to exist if they don’t think it is legal.