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The whole truth, and nothing but…

Observer Viewpoint | Thursday, March 24, 2005

Notre Dame rocketed to the top of the political correctness charts with the Vagina Monologues and the Queer Film Festival (QFF). That moment of glory is past. It remains only to note some key points regarding the QFF. The key strategy of the “gay” movement is to gain recognition of homosexual activity as a mainstream lifestyle. The sponsorship of QFF by Notre Dame lent important support to that strategy.Our leaders’ repeated sponsorship of QFF was the predictable outcome of their refusal to affirm the full and positive Catholic teaching. That teaching, in the Catechism, has three points:1. Persons with “homosexual tendencies . . . must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”2. Homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life.” “Scripture . . . presents [them] as acts of grave depravity.”3. The homosexual inclination is not a sin. But, as an inclination toward an objectively disordered act, the inclination is itself “objectively disordered.” Notre Dame’s Spirit of Inclusion commendably promotes “an environment of mutual respect . . . in which no one is a stranger and all may flourish.” When it was adopted in August, 1997, I asked a Vice-President why it did not specify, in accord with explicit papal teaching, that the homosexual inclination is disordered. She replied that the 1992 draft of the Catechism did not include a statement to that effect. On Sept. 8, 1997, however, the final text revised the Catechism to state that the homosexual inclination is “objectively disordered.” Through an apparent transcription error, incidentally, Bishop D’Arcy’s forthright statement on QFF quoted the 1992 text of the Catechism on that point rather than the final language.Homosexual acts, and the inclination to them, are disordered not because of Church teaching, but because they are contrary to nature. Not even the Faculty Senate could repeal that law of nature. If, as the Catechism states, the acts are “objectively disordered,” how could the inclination to those acts be anything but disordered? But, if, as our leaders imply, the inclination is not disordered, why may it not be acted upon? The problem is that Notre Dame still refuses to affirm that the homosexual inclination is disordered. So why is that a big deal? Because the failure to affirm that the inclination is disordered could lead students to conclude that the homosexual lifestyle itself is not disordered and is therefore a legitimate alternative, prohibited only by the teaching of an arbitrary Church. This inference is strengthened by the solicitude shown by our leaders to those with homosexual inclinations, beyond that shown to students afflicted with other disordered inclinations. Notre Dame participated, rightly, in the national Eating Disorders Awareness Week. The University offers “smoking cessation programs to all members of the campus community who desire them.” To treat an inclination to smoking as a disorder is politically correct. To do so with the homosexual inclination is not. This disparity reflects the reality that the de facto official religion of Notre Dame is political correctness. Ex Corde Ecclesiae lists as one of the “essential characteristics” of the Catholic university: “Fidelity to the Christian message as it comes to us through the Church.” It would be contrary to that “Christian message” for Notre Dame to host an event that portrayed any disordered activity, such as excessive drinking or shoplifting, as a good lifestyle, even if the event included a panel to discuss whether those activities were really good. A Catholic university knows that they are morally wrong, It should not sponsor a program that presents them as debatably moral activities. Nor should it do so with homosexual activity. Moreover, a Catholic university knows that the inclination to any disordered act is itself disordered. It should not mislead its students by omission of that truth.The 1986 Letter to Bishops, approved by John Paul II, said, “[T]he proper reaction to crimes committed against homosexual persons should not be to claim that the homosexual condition is not disordered . . . [D]eparture from the Church’s teaching or silence about it . . . is neither caring nor pastoral. Only what is true can ultimately be pastoral. The neglect of the Church’s position prevents homosexual men and women from receiving the care they need and deserve.” Notre Dame students are entitled to the truth. All of it.

Professor Emeritus Rice is on the Law School Faculty. His column appears every other Thursday.The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.