Le Moyne College in Syracuse is planning its commencement exercises for May 17, and it appears there may be some controversy. Bill Carey says it all has to do with the choice of commencement speaker.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- In the Catholic world, it's a major accomplishment for Le Moyne College: a commencement address by Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York.
"He's really the most prominent Catholic leader in the United States these days. So, Cardinal Dolan will offer, I'm sure, an enthusiastic, heart warming, and I think, pastoral message to our students," said Rev.
David McCallum, the college's director of mission and identity.
But, some members of the class of 2015 say they plan to ignore that speech.
"I think that, as a group, a group of people who have their own identity, we have decided that Cardinal Dolan doesn't really embody the values that we've been taught at a Jesuit school," said Le Moyne senior Kate Bakhuizen.
Students say their research led them to reports that in past jobs for the church, Dolan has been involved in efforts to cover up clergy abuse.
"We have tried to make steps to state our intolerance with sexual violence on this campus and, also, within the church it shouldn't be tolerated," said Amy Denny, a senior.
There are also protests over past statements by Dolan on gay Catholics.
"You're entitled to friendship, but we also know that God has told us that the way to happiness, especially when it comes to sexual love, that is intended only for a man and woman in marriage where children can come about naturally," Dolan once said during an interview on ABC News.
"Although I am not gay myself, being gay is not an action. It's the person. So, you cannot condemn the action of being gay without condemning the person. It's one thing," senior Krystal Wilson said.
Students asked that Dolan be disinvited. That will not happen, so instead, they plan a silent protest during his address.
"We're respecting him enough that, he will be speaking at graduation and though people may not be actively listening, we're still granting him the human courtesy to be able to speak at graduation and to be there,"
And, there will be no order to students not to protest.
"It's an inherent part of the Catholic intellectual tradition to challenge questions of authority. That it's OK to ask the big questions and, in fact, at the end of the day, it actually makes us better Catholics, if you will. Better citizens," said Le Moyne President Linda LeMura.
"I think it's something you hope for in a college setting. You know, that young people are thinking critically about issues and that they're willing to take stands on things that they believe in and even more so in a Catholic Jesuit setting, where we promote the importance of social justice," McCallum said.
Le Moyne leaders say the cardinal is used to dealing with tough issues, and tough crowds.