Cardinal Wuerl used his homily at George Washington University to make it clear that he stands behind the priest who is under fire on that campus, Father Greg Shaffer.
Two gay activists attacked Father Shaffer recently because the priest teaches that chastity for homosexual people means that they are called to celibacy. The stated purpose of the attacks on the priest was to have him removed from campus ministry and to either force the Newman Center where he is assigned to stop teaching Catholic morality.
Cardinal Wuerl’s homily seems to indicate that Father Shaffer has the confidence of his Cardinal. This takes the possibility of him losing his assignment off the table.
Now it’s up to the university to decide if they are going to jump into this and try to close the Newman Center or if they will allow freedom of thought and speech on their campus as they have up to now.
Cardinal Wuerl’s homily, excerpted from CNA.
“I want to offer a word of support and encouragement to your chaplain, Father Greg Shaffer…and to stand in solidarity with a good priest,” the archbishop of Washington said April 14.
His remarks come as two gay students said the Newman Center chaplain had told individuals who came to him for counseling that if they experience same-sex attraction, they should remain celibate.
Asserting that this was anti-gay behavior, the two students have launched a campaign to force Fr. Shaffer off the campus of the private university.
Cardinal Wuerl reflected on the duty of bishops and priests to “feed Jesus’ flock,” and considered to whom “Jesus’ flock” refers.
Christ’s flock are those who freely choose to follow Christ and be a part of his Church, the cardinal said, and that those who choose not to follow Christ are not forced to do so.
“We propose the ways of the kingdom of God in terms that the world can understand and examine, in terms they may freely accept or reject.”
When Christ himself was faced with those who would not follow his teachings, he “did not respond by changing the teaching,” Cardinal Wuerl noted.
“Even when they said to him you need to be current, you need to be contemporary, you need to be politically correct, you need to be with the times, Jesus did not say, ‘Oh, then, I will change my teaching.’”
Christ continues to offer unchanging truths today, which cannot be changed to “conform with any particular cultural demand,” he said.
“Yet, there are those who claim that voices for the Gospel should be silenced, that we should be silenced. There are those who say there is no room for any other view but their own.”
Cardinal Wuerl said that this experience is not new to the Church, and she has always bore the brunt of “narrow-minded discrimination and blind bigotry.”
He urged a need to preserve and protect religious liberty in the face of attempts to silence priests lest they “be allowed to engage in dialogue with our culture.”
Just because there are forces in society wishing to change marriage and to deny the dignity of human life and natural law, that “does not mean that the rest of us no longer have a place in this society,” the archbishop stated.