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Campus, Catholicism and homosexuality

Letter to the Editor | Tuesday, November 13, 2007

With Notre Dame being a Catholic institution of intellectual exchange, I would like to take this opportunity to partake in the ongoing dialogue regarding the recent donning of the “Gay? Go to Hell” shirts by certain students on campus. Contributors thus far have expressed sincere disappointment in these men’s choice of fashion (“Offering a welcome home for all,” November 9). Although I missed seeing the shirts, after reading this disagreeing response I feel the need to address some of the assertions put forth by its authors.

In the aforementioned letter, Catholic teaching was referenced to support of the arguments being made. The letter cited Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger’s (now Pope Benedict XVI) 1986 Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons. While I do not see a problem in the authors’ use of this document, I do see a need to address the way Cardinal Ratzinger’s document was referenced.

First, it should be noted that the Latin title of this document is Homosexualitatis problema. Now, I do not speak Latin, but it is pretty clear that this title alludes to the certain problems faced by homosexual persons. While the array of authors of the Nov. 9th letter were correct in noting that this document calls for a respect for the “intrinsic dignity of each person,” particularly homosexual persons, they failed to draw attention to another pivotal passage of this text: “Just as the Cross was central to the expression of God’s redemptive love for us in Jesus, so the conformity of the self-denial of homosexual men and women with the sacrifice of the Lord will constitute for them a source of self-giving which will save them from a way of life which constantly threatens to destroy them. Christians who are homosexuals are called (…) to a chaste life” (Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, 1986).

While it is important and noble that our beloved University expresses a Catholic acceptance and ‘inclusion’ of all of its members, I find it very disappointing that it does not (openly) accept, include and ‘voice its solidarity with’ the Church’s teaching on the homosexual orientation and lifestyle. Catholic teaching states that it is not morally wrong for a person to be of the homosexual orientation as each person, regardless of sexual orientation, is created in the Image and Likeness of God. However, the Church does teach that homosexuality is intrinsically disordered and thus, for a person of homosexual orientation to act on those homosexual tendencies, to embrace the homosexual lifestyle, is morally sinful.

In lieu of these teachings, I would like to return to the issue of the controversial shirts that stimulated this debate. Even though their tactic may have been somewhat inaccurate and inappropriate, I do think that the wearers of these shirts draw attention to the need to implement an approach to working with the homosexual minority on campus that is holistically Catholic. Such an approach should incorporate not only an inclusion of homosexual students, who are created in the Image and Likeness of God, but also offer instruction on how to live (as we all should) in the Image and Likeness of God, and it would take the place of the current, woefully inadequate one.

Mary K. Daly


Welsh Family Hall

Nov. 12