February 22, 2012
Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:
Many of you have asked me to address our recent decision to cancel the workshop/performance by Tim Miller. While it was difficult and complex, I stand by this decision. I want to be clear that this had nothing to do with Mr. Miller’s sexual orientation, and I believe it is untrue that Villanova is a homophobic community. Such a description concerns me far more than a cancellation.
The decision not to host Mr. Miller came after viewing his performance work and the manner in which he conveys his messages. The interpretation of art is open to debate. All art should provoke a response. As a theatre director, I have faced the issue of how to evoke such a response in a way that I deem appropriate for myself, my actors and audiences. There are always issues around language, content and production elements that need to be addressed. These choices are important in creating art.
As an artist and a priest, I find the choices that Mr. Miller makes to be disturbing. While some may disagree, as president of Villanova University I can assure you it is the explicit, graphic and sexual content of his performances that led to this decision—a decision that in no way was affected by issues of sexual orientation.
As a Catholic community, we uphold and must maintain the Church’s teaching that all people are accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Love of neighbor—of all neighbors—is a Gospel mandate we protect. Villanova is and always will be an inclusive community.
Fr. Peter Donohue, O.S.A.