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Catholicism, homosexuality, and community

Letter to the Editor | Wednesday, November 14, 2007

In Mary K. Daly’s Letter to the Editor (“Campus, Catholicism, and homosexuality,” Nov. 13) she expresses disappointment that Notre Dame “does not (openly) accept, include and ‘voice its solidarity with’ the Church’s teaching on the homosexual orientation and lifestyle.” Her solution is to “implement an approach to working with the homosexual minority on campus that is holistically Catholic.” This approach would not only incorporate inclusion, but also include “instruction on how to live” a chaste life in the context of Catholic Christian morality.

First, it is worth noting that the University does openly teach and discuss the Church’s teaching on sexual acts between homosexual persons. In each CommUnity and Network session, the presenter first deconstructs the complicated formulations of Church teaching in the Catechism and presents them so that every student may fully understand the rich and intricate teaching offered by the Church. This gives students the power to speak from knowledge and not ignorance. Many resources (brochures, pamphlets, spiritual directors) are available in Campus Ministry. Every hall rector is fully versed in Church teaching.

These resources are the public face of the University, of our community. In developing an approach that is ‘holistically Catholic,’ however, we must balance the role of the community and that of the individual. Dealing with an intimate aspect of an individual’s personal and spiritual life requires utmost care and compassion. As a community, we are called to create a welcoming environment in which all members are free to develop their personality and discover personal traits – one of which (and I stress, only one of which) is sexuality. As individuals created in the image and likeness of God, their inherent dignity demands our sensitivity.

In encroaching on the personal sphere of one’s being, the community must tread carefully. Who are we to judge a person’s life circumstances or their personal faith experiences? This is best conducted and evaluated in a prayerful context of personal discernment with a spiritual guide. It is not the role of other students to scathingly declare, “Go to hell.” It is not our place to decide whether someone is “Catholic enough.”

In short, a supportive community in solidarity with its gay, lesbian, and bisexual members is not only the ideal community-it is the ‘holistically Catholic’ community. To minister to individual needs we must provide a safe space in which people feel they can explore their faith and reconcile themselves before God in a loving environment. This does not mean that Church teaching, in its fullness, should not be laid out or provided as a model.

Ultimately, however, after careful discernment, prayer, and consultation, it is for the individual to reconcile him or herself with the tradition, and the community’s role to share the love and good news of Christ – not to declare judgments reserved for God.

Grant Van Eaton


Sorin College

Nov. 14