What I saw today at Georgetown University:
The above video shows two large signs hanging above Georgetown’s Red Square: one advertising “The Spirit of Georgetown” and the other advertising the Georgetown University Office of Student Affairs’ LGBTQ Resource Center‘s “Coming Out Week.”
You can get a better look at the “Spirit of Georgetown” sign on the university’s “Mission and Ministry” page, while a larger version of the “Coming Out Week” poster is on the Facebook page of one of the Georgetown LGBTQ Resource Center’s faculty advisers.
What strikes me about the juxtaposition of the two posters is that each one includes “The Great Seal of Georgetown University.” It’s been said (and there is some data, albeit disputed, to back it up) that Catholic students who attend an inauthentic Catholic college—that is, one that does not uphold Catholic faith and social teaching across the board— are more likely to lose their faith than those who attend a secular college. I can see how that claim might be true.
Imagine a Georgetown University student who was raised by Catholic parents to believe, as the Catechism says, that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered” and “contrary to the natural law”; they “close the sexual act to the gift of life” and “do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity”; and “[under] no circumstances can they be approved” (CCC 2357). Then imagine that same student seeing his “Catholic university” place its Great Seal on “Coming Out Week” and an entire month of “OUTober” events such this:
Coming Out in Red Square
Five years ago, the Out for Change campaign worked hard to make Georgetown a more inclusive place. Today, coming out on campus still presents unique challenges. Show your pride this year by Coming Out through our closet door as a proud LGBTQ or Ally, and participating in the midday ‘Kiss-In’. Be sure to wear your ‘I Am’ t-shirt throughout the day to promote visibility and awareness about LGBTQ life on campus!
Location: Red Square
Do you think that such a student, away from home and seeing his “Catholic” school actively promote the homosexual lifestyle, would still believe that his parents had given him the truth about what the Church teaches on same-sex attraction? Or would he think that the Church had “moved with the times”?
Having given a talk to the Georgetown chapter of the Love and Fidelity Network, I realize it is indeed possible for students to emerge from the university with an orthodox understanding of Catholic teaching on human love and sexuality. But I also know that they have to fight the university’s prevailing culture in order to gain that understanding. Witness this description by Georgetown Love and Fidelity Network alumnus Justin Hawkins of the university-sponsored “Last Chance Dance”:
Having completed four years of rigorous study, the senior class is presented with a week of activities as the pinnacle and culmination of their undergraduate years. The Last Chance Dance is designed as a venue to air hitherto unexpressed romantic affection toward another student or students, and the intention of it is something far less than Platonic. Placed as it is, strategically after a university-sponsored keg party and only a few days before graduation, the Last Chance Dance is designed as the ideal opportunity for casual “hookup” sex between ebullient and inebriated couples who, either for want of ambition or because of the pesky influence of sexual morality, have thus far been prevented from enjoying their allotted and expected bacchanalia. And should social awkwardness ensue after the event, no matter. Graduation and departure are only a few days away.
The website of Georgetown’s LGBTQ Resource Center features a section titled “Our Jesuit Values” in which Rev. Kevin O’Brien, S.J., executive director of Georgetown Campus Ministry argues that supporting the center falls under “the Jesuit tradition of cura personalis.”
Really? I have searched the writings of St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, and have not found anything to indicate that the Jesuit tradition of cura personalis refers to encouraging people to practice intrinsically disordered behavior. What I have found is that Ignatius deeply regretted the sins of his youth, and strove to instill moral virtue in those who were under his spiritual care. He wrote to the Jesuit scholastics at Alcantara in 1543:
We should be careful to preserve great purity of heart in the love of God, loving nothing but Him, and desiring to converse with Him alone, and with the neighbor for love of Him and not for our own pleasure and delight.
The Church teaches compassion for people who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies. “This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial,” says the Catechism, adding that “[they] must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition” (CCC 2358).
What is more, as has been noted by Daniel Mattson—a Catholic who lives with a homosexual inclination and is committed to chastity—the Church does not define people by their sexual attraction. Mattson, in his excellent essay “Why I Don’t Call Myself a Gay Christian,” points to the “Pastoral Letter on the Care of the Homosexual Person,” written by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) when he was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In it, Ratzinger has something to say about cura personalis (emphasis mine):
The human person, made in the image and likeness of God, can hardly be adequately described by a reductionist reference to his or her sexual orientation. Every one living on the face of the earth has personal problems and difficulties, but challenges to growth, strengths, talents and gifts as well. Today, the Church provides a badly needed context for the care of the human person when she refuses to consider the person as a “heterosexual” or a “homosexual” and insists that every person has a fundamental Identity: the creature of God, and by grace, his child and heir to eternal life.
If Georgetown were truly practicing cura personalis in the spirit of St. Ignatius Loyola—who insisted the members of his Society think with the Church—it would not encourage those with homosexual tendencies to broadcast their disordered inclinations. Rather, it would give them the support they need in order to live chastely. But the radiant white light of chastity is exactly what is missing from Georgetown’s “Coming Out” rainbow.