UPDATED: Pray for persecuted Newman Center priest and for those who persecute him

Father Greg Shaffer is one of my parish priests. I live a stone’s throw from the George Washington University Newman Center, where he has been chaplain since 2009, and have seen for myself the fantastic fruit his ministry is bearing.

With the help of the FOCUS missionaries whom he helped bring to the university, Father Greg has fostered an exponential increase in Catholic students’ participation at the Newman Center. The centerpiece of his program is making the sacraments of the Eucharist and reconciliation accessible. Under his administration, the Newman Center has expanded its sacramental life to encompass twelve and a half hours of Eucharistic adoration a week, liturgies that include daily Mass (sometimes twice) and four Sunday Masses, and daily hours for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. On Easter Vigil, he received two new Catholics into the Church and confirmed nine more. All this in addition to a men’s discernment group and the usual Newman Center array of socials, speakers, etc.

Need I add that the GW Newman Center is producing more vocations to the priesthood and the religious life than most churches in the Archdiocese of Washington?

And need I add that those who oppose Church teachings have it out for Father Greg?

I’ll let Deacon Greg tell you the details about the outrageous effort by gay-rights activists to put a stop to the phenomenal work this holy priest is doing for the Kingdom. But I will state the obvious, that the motive of the persecution is truly not about gay rights, nor is it about the right of people who have same-sex attraction to be treated as human beings possessing human dignity. It is about destroying the Church. The agitators are unable to silence their own conscience, so they seek to silence the “meddlesome priest” who brings them the truth of Christ.

And when I say that, I’m thinking of this quote from the student leading the assault on Father Greg, who, after Father Greg told him that his homosexual behavior would prevent him from having a priestly vocation, became a priest in a schismatic sect:

“[Father Shaffer] is making me choose between the church and my sexuality, but my sexuality isn’t making me choose between it and the church.”

That tells you to whom, or rather what, the student bows. It also tells why he and those who share his concept of “gay identity” are compelled to see the Church’s moral authority removed from every place where it might trouble their conscience. These people subscribe to what Frank Weathers termed the mainstream-media Catechism:

“Who made you?”

“My sexuality made me.”

Pray for Father Greg, for his persecutors, and for courage for all Catholics as we enter further into this era of martyrdom.

Recommended reading on the myth of “gay identity”: Daniel Mattson, “Why I Don’t Call Myself a Gay Christian”

UPDATE, 1:28 p.m.: Catholic students at GW are fighting back, supporting Father Greg via a blog in which they share how he has positively impacted their lives: The Chaplain We Know.

UPDATE #2, 8:48 p.m.: I have more to say about Father Greg in the Catholic News Agency story “Catholics rally behind DC priest amid controversy.”

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  • Cassandra

    Good for Fr. Shaffer!

    But given that he is serving under ++Wuerl, I give Fr. Shaffer about at least a 50% chance of being reassigned from the Newman Center. I hope I’m wrong.

  • Matt Shoemaker

    Dawn! I hope youre doing well! I miss our conversations but youre in my prayers :)

    BRILLIANT article! very articulate and witty. Love it :)

    all the best,

  • Captain America

    Dawn: thanks for the update. I live in Illinois, but the free speech implications concern me and should concern every person.

    This might be a hot issue in the future: campuses expelling religious organizations.

  • Fr. JFXP

    You’re in my heart at the Masses I will offer this Divine Mercy Sunday. May God have mercy on those who persecute you. May the light of the Holy Spirit open their minds and hearts to the truth of Jesus Chrsit.

    • Helene Romero

      He is a priest. Not a politician. Therefore, he speaks TRUTH….in season, and out of season. Sunday is Divine Mercy. I already have a Mass said at 10:00 an for Our “priests all over the world.” I continue, and will continue, to pray for priests everyday of my life.

  • Deacon Ed Peitler

    Let’s remind ourselves that Christ warned us that we would be persecuted – if only we are faithful to what his Church teaches. On the other hand, a Church which is not persecuted is NOT doing something right. God bless this priest and those laymen and laywomen in FOCUS who are leading the Church (including our bishops) on the path of Her mission – evangelization.

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  • Rene

    Let’s hope that the bishop backs this priest. Let’s hope that the bishop has the courage to stand up to the gay lobby and stands up for Catholic doctrine. Let’s pray for both the priest and his bishop.

  • Jason

    This is what happens when people who do not truly believe in God are attracted to the outer appearance of religion. They like the vestments, the ritual, the ethos or something such as that, but they do not recognize that God is all powerful and deserving of all obedience, and He is the true purpose of it all… they do not even believe that God CAN, much less would, deny them their material and sensual desires. They have not really understood what it means when Christ tells us to deny ourselves.

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  • Elana Torres

    To attack Father Greg for being clear about the Churches teachings is to be hypocritical about allowing choice and free speech. If you don’t agree with him fine. He is there to minister to those who are in his flock and any person requesting his perspective and help.He is not there to pander and lie to please the university or individuals. He is fulfilling his duties as a religious, not secular leader. There are plenty of religions to choose from. If you don’t like ours, go look somewhere else.

  • Marye

    From the GW Hatchet article on Damian Legacy and his “priesthood.”
    ““People say, ‘You don’t have a parish.’ Well, I do. My parish is my firehouse, my parish is my firefighters, my parish is the nursing home I say mass at,” Legacy said. “A parish is not necessarily the four walls of a church. My flock is anyone seeking a relationship with God.”
    Yes, we do need to pray for him too. Putting aside any issue of sexual orientation, he is so deluded and confused that it frightens me. I wonder if the nursing home he volunteers at realizes that he’s not an ordained Roman Catholic priest. Many Catholic residents at that home are likely in the last stage of their life, and truly need the Sacraments–so let’s pray for them too. It makes me shudder . . .
    Aso, reports are that the Archdiocese of Washington have issued a statement defending Father Shaffer, but it’s. not yet on the website.

  • http://grigaitis.net Russell Grigaitis

    We need more people to become more open about being gay (I mean truly gay):

    Did you know that the word “homosexual” was only coined in the late 19th century? It also doesn’t logically describe the word it replaced, which was “sodomy.”

    • Ted Seeber

      And you just had to invade a blog about defending a priest to let us know this, right? It’s behavior like this, far beyond the first amendment problems involved, that make me oppose gay marriage.

      • Dawn Eden

        Ted, calm down. Did you even follow Russell’s links?

  • TeaPot562

    For a scriptural reference, review the first half of Genesis, chapter 19.
    This teaching of the Church on this matter is neither new, nor peculiar to Christianity. It was also found in traditional Judaism.

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  • Alan

    For 3% of the population, homosexuals today sure take advantage of our gentle nature.

  • Kat

    I went to confession once with Fr. Scaffer. It was a wonderful experience and despite the gravity of my confession there was no condemnation offered just forgiveness.

  • Noe

    But I’m not clear Legacy even joined THE Old Catholic Church – he joined a group that is not in communion with the Union of Utrecht of which the OCC is; the only bodies that ARE in communion with the OCC *in the US* are those bodies in communion with the Anglican Communion; a little silly that he couldn’t even be a proper dissenter!…

  • Mike

    Wow. He’s a Catholic priest. What did they expect? Free condoms and a safe sex lecture?

    That being said…I think that Christian’s persecution complex has gone too far. This isn’t persecution. And even if it was…you guys want to be persecuted anyway, so you can becoime martyrs. The ultimate glory, right?

  • Kat

    Keeping Fr. in my prayers.

  • Justin

    I hope that GWU will back up the right of Fr. Shaffer to teach Catholic moral doctrine at the Newman Center. If Father is ousted, then what is the point of having a Catholic chaplain on any secular university in this country? If the chaplain cannot teach and preach Catholic doctrine without fear of losing his job because of two vindictive individuals, then why hire a Catholic chaplain at all? And if these two individuals do not accept Catholic teaching on homosexuality, then why not just leave the Newman Center and go your own way? This is truly disturbing and outrageous. I am praying for Fr. Shaffer, but I am also praying for the two men because if they do not repent, they will have to face Christ as their Judge, not only for the sin of homosexual acts, but for their vicious persecution of His priest (which is also an attack upon Christ Himself).