Graduate Theological Union

Diocese pulls the plug on speech by Michael Crosby, O.F.M.Cap. (Ph.D. '89)

Rev. Michael Crosby, O.F.M.Cap. (Ph.D. '89)Rev. Michael Crosby, O.F.M.Cap. (Ph.D. '89) was scheduled to address Catholic educators at Canadian Forum on Theology and Education in Toronto, but the archdiocese rescinded their approval of Crosby. Since then, the conference has been moved to Sheridan College in Hamilton. Crosby is outspoken about women's equality and church governance. He believes that dialogue is the fruit of a healthy church and that suppression of voices only makes matters worse.

An excerpt of the story follows:

It’s not uncommon for Catholic clergy, laypeople and theologians to be denied platforms in Catholic institutions if their ideas do not conform to prescribed teaching — a practice some see as being at odds with societal values of free speech and open dialogue.

The annual Toronto forum, which has brought mainstream speakers and those critical of church structure to the city for 30 years, usually draws about 100 educators. It was to be held at the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board.

However, many Catholic institutions, including school boards, do not want to be seen to be complicit with speakers who stray from church teaching or practice; nor do they want to cross swords with local bishops, says Mark McGowan, history professor and co-ordinator of the University of Toronto’s Book & Media Studies program.

At the same time, the Toronto archdiocese is perfectly within its right to restrict what is said or who meets on church property, he says. But in Canada, where freedom of speech is a given, prohibiting dissent “is not effective,” McGowan says. “And perhaps even gives greater attention to the dissenter.”

Original Post: Toronto Star, "Reformist priest refused permission to speak to Toronto-area educators on Catholic property. He’s now speaking at Sheridan College."