Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Cardinal George: A Conference Misconceived; an Opportunity Missed

On Oct. 19 and 20, a conference for Catholic college faculty and administrators will be hosted at DePaul University on the topic of ministering to gay and lesbian students in Catholic colleges and universities. Called the “Out There Conference,” this program is coordinated out of Santa Clara University in California and has as its stated purpose to discuss how to be pastorally present to homosexually oriented young people.

That is a good purpose. Young people who identify themselves as gay and lesbian have particular challenges and special needs that call for a pastoral approach that can assure them they are loved by God and give them the means of grace needed to live chastely. There are sometimes psychological problems of self-rejection and social problems of how to find their way as disciples of Jesus Christ and responsible members of society. Sometimes they experience personal prejudice because of their sexual identity, and finding true friendship and the opportunity to share who they are become difficult. All of these topics call for collective reflection and a particular sensitivity on the part of those who minister to students with same-sex inclinations.

Unfortunately, while it seems that some of the conference talks will respect and apply Catholic moral teaching, the descriptions of other talks seem to press the case that the Church should change the moral law or that people should ignore Church teaching and form into groups that reject the magisterium of the Catholic Church. To the extent that this is true, the purpose of the conference moves from reflection to advocacy in the name of being “pastoral.” My concern as pastor of this Archdiocese is that some speakers at this conference intend to justify behavior that brings people’s salvation into jeopardy. Some, in discussing what constitutes a sympathetic and encouraging pastoral outreach to people with same-sex inclinations, say that you cannot truly accept persons unless you also accept without moral judgment their sexual activity. But isn’t it odd to demand that, in the name of respect or inclusion, someone must agree with everything someone else desires to do? No one can demand that those who understand as true the moral teaching of the Church must give up their own convictions in order to respect or befriend someone who is gay or lesbian. In any other area of human experience, such an attitude would be seen as clearly unfair and self-righteous.

A pastoral outreach to homosexually oriented men and women is based on two truths: 1) every person must be respected, and 2) acting out sexually with a partner of the same sex is objectively mortally sinful. This second truth doesn’t depend only on Scripture or even on official Church teaching. Non-Christian and even non-religious peoples understand that the sexual complementarity of men and women is built into the morphology of our bodies and into the very purpose of sexual acts.

Most people understand that between an inclination and an act there is a free decision, if it is a human act. Because of good habits and the power of God’s grace, people can live with even very strong inclinations and not act out. To say otherwise is to be a determinist and bring the basis of our common life as well as the whole economy of salvation into question. Everyone experiences some form of sinful inclination; not everyone acts out. The inclination is to be met with understanding and sympathy; the action is to be met with correct judgment and then forgiveness.

My hope, in the days ahead, is that the participants in this conference will come away with a deeper desire to love and respect gay and lesbian students and a clearer understanding of homosexual behavior and the moral law that governs it. Then the conference will be genuinely supportive of authentic campus ministry. In every area of human behavior, campus ministers need to search for faithful ways in which to assist young adults toward salvation and the eternal happiness it promises. That’s the purpose of all ministry in the Church, because it’s the purpose of Jesus Christ’s self-sacrifice on the cross and his resurrection from the dead. God bless you.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Francis Cardinal George, OMI
Archbishop of Chicago

Thomas F. Roeser, Chairman of the Editorial Board of the Chicago Daily Observer, and a regular columnist in The Wanderer, comments on the response by the President of DePaul University, "the largest Catholic university in the nation."

[Thomas Roeser] DePaul President Reverend Dennis Holtschneider, C. M. responded last week to The Catholic New World column written by Francis Cardinal George critical of the university for promoting the “Out There” conference for teachers and students to make them “sensitive” to homosexual behavior. While the archbishop stressed the obligations of all Christians not to be hateful to others on grounds of sexual orientation, he nevertheless pointed out that portions of the conference promoted gay behavior.

The response acknowledges this but is as intellectually dishonest as is possible to be, evading Holtschneider’s own and his misnamed “Catholic” university’s obligations and hiding behind the tattered fabric of “academic freedom.” His naked rationale has become a part of secular universities. But for so-called Catholic universities to violate the bases on which Judeo Christian education in the West have been taught since the era monastic orders first ushered in academia is intolerable.

Essentially, Holtschneider tells the prelate that he’s entitled to his own opinion and the DePaul faculty and stuff which overwhelmingly stresses anti-Judeo Christian propaganda theirs.

Of course, Chicago’s twin pillars of liberal political correctness in journalism, the Tribune and Sun-Times saw no need to refer to the Cardinal’s criticism of DePaul, their so-called “religious reporting” centering on meaningless trivia as feature stories about nuns who collect baseball cards. But for the great number of Chicagoans interested in the future of higher education, The Observer ran the Cardinal’s letter.

The response by Fr. Holtschneider was sent to The Catholic New World which buried it under the fold in a light italicized headline that could easily be missed.

Here in its entirety is the insolent letter along with interpretation of liberal academic jargon in English.

Statement on Out There Conference

October, 2007

[Holtschneider] Cardinal George has written of his concern that the “Out There” Conference, taking place at DePaul University will promote ideas that are inconsistent with Church teaching. It appears that he is correct. The descriptions indicate that some sessions will faithfully convey the Church’s teaching but that some others will propose that student life personnel encourage students to ignore that teaching.

Catholic universities, like all universities, protect freedom of inquiry.

[Roeser] (NOTE: Which means that we as a university are powerless to stress the truth but must accompany it with equal time for falsehood. This is in contradistinction to the historic obligation of the university to (a) assess and compare differing views and then transmit them to students emphasizing the distinctions but also the truth as the Church sees it, consonant with their providential responsibilities).

[Holtschneider] This freedom is a requisite for any search for the truth and DePaul will honor the right of our faculty and staff, as well as visiting faculty and staff, to speak of these issues at the conference.

[Roeser] (NOTE: Evading the question. No one quarrels with the right in academia to compare different views but the goal of the Catholic university until recently has been to assess them fairly and convey the Church’s historic mission of outlining clearly what it believes. The balderdash that we “honor the right of our faculty” is obfuscation and dishonesty. Fr. Holtschneider knows full well the academic tradition and chooses to veil it in liberal mystery language).

[Holtschneider] In this case, however, the conference is not merely an intellectual exploration of a topic.

[Roeser] (NOTE: No? What is it, then? An advocacy conference?).

[Holtschneider] The conference also seeks to propose strategies for university personnel to serve LGBTQ [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual and Queer) students on their campuses.

[Roeser] (NOTE: Answer—Yes. Meaning the objective truth must not be weighed versus the propaganda but to determine how to deal with the propaganda including using the very language of the militants—LGBTQ. This takes precedence over the intellectual inquiry.)

[Holtschneider] To the degree that these strategies differ from the Church’s teaching the Cardinal quite understandably exercises his own duty to remind the participants of that teaching.

[Roeser] (NOTE: In other words, the Cardinal has his views but we have ours as represented in the subjective advocacy of the militants which we have adopted—LGBTQ ).

[Holtschneider] His words and concerns are welcome at DePaul.

[Roeser] (NOTE: At least as equally received as Ward Churchill’s whose anti-American speech delivered under official auspices was fortified by a made-up resume which later got him kicked off of the University of Colorado).

[Holtschneider] It is the university’s hope that the conference participants will also welcome these concerns and use them as they explore these important and complex issues.

[Roeser] (NOTE: There, we’re off the hook and we will go ahead and advertise to unsuspecting consumers that we are a Catholic school.).

[Roeser] A final observation: In any other institution, an insolent rebuke like this would be followed by an order from the chancery ratified by Rome stripping DePaul of its right to call itself…and advertise itself as it does widely…as a Catholic university. Chicago Daily Observer

I see in the response to Cardinal George's letter that Minnesota is once again falling back in the race for diversity jargon supremacy. We think that we are so progressive when we include the LGBT crowd in all our legislation and newspaper articles. Check the recent articles on the Airport Hand Signalling Misdemeanor Incident if you don't understand what I am talking about.

But I note in the diversity jargon used by the President of DePaul University that LGBT is passe' these days. It is now LGBTQ. Queer is back! But for the life of me, or is it the death of me, I sure don't know what the distinction might be. I can see why they have academic majors in the subject just to stay on top of the terminology.

I wonder how many letters are allowed in acronyms before they have to break them up into two acronym-phrases and if status will be claimed by those mentioned in the first acronym over the second acronym in the phrase. Because those who are in the process of "transgendering" are lobbing for third bathrooms in all buildings so they won't have to be embarrassed into choosing before they are ready.

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