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University can support both God’s love and truth

Observer Viewpoint | Thursday, April 1, 2004

After having read the recent letters from my law school colleagues, I feel compelled to respectfully dissent.

Both Mr. Hess and Ms. Tawresey make the unfortunate logical error of equating identity and behavior. Both Mr. Hess and Ms. Tawresey assert that University recognition of a campus straight-GBLT is tantamount to University approval of sexual behaviors associated with same-sex attraction – behaviors that run counter to Catholic sexual ethics and teaching.

Such a leap of logic is both erroneous and unfortunate. As Ms. Tawresey notes, Catholics are instructed and compelled by the Catechism of the Catholic Church to love and embrace all persons, no matter what their race, religion, moral compulsion – and, indeed, no matter what their sin. Ms. Tawresey paints the intent of a straight-GBLT alliance (or, as she puts it, “homosexual club”) as promotion of the idea that “homosexual conduct is acceptable, and indeed, praiseworthy.” Such an error of assumption is as harmful as it is unfortunate. It is obvious to myself and many others that the University’s Catholic mission compels it to provide resources to its students that help them best discern their vocation in accordance with Catholic doctrine.

Recognizing a group that brings students together to support one another in their journey of discernment is, I think, an excellent first step toward developing a holistic approach to ministry to gay, lesbian and bisexual students and those struggling with same-sex attraction. I confess that I have been unable to read the proposal for United in Diversity; but I have faith that with some compassion and some effort, University administrators could work with these passionate students to develop a charter for such a group that is both completely faithful to the University’s Catholic mission and truly supportive of its homosexual students. Particularly on a campus where events and activities are supported (often with copious university funds) that go just as far to outrightly promote and accept promiscuous, unmarried heterosexual behavior, such a stance against a straight-GBLT alliance approaches base hypocrisy at worst, and homophobic twisting of Catholic doctrine at best.

Most troubling, though, is my growing sense that in the bubble-world of Notre Dame, what it means to be a good Christian increasingly has little to do with actually imitating Christ. It would do us well to recall that Christ himself recognized and embraced a group of sinners whose behavior was seen by the religious to be inherently against God – they were known as his disciples. Prostitutes, tax collectors, bounty hunters, thieves … We see them all in the company of Christ at one time or another in the text of the Gospels. Indeed, Christ seems to have preferred their company to that of those who proclaimed the law of God from pulpits and condemned their fellow persons to damnation. See last Sunday’s gospel for just such an example. In Christ, God’s truth and God’s love were brought to perfection; and his example commands that we work toward such perfection at best and a healthy balance between them at least. With all due respect, Mr. Hess and Ms. Tawresey demand that we unhealthily tip that balance if not upend it completely. Let us hope that the University can work with its students to make Notre Dame a place that lives both God’s truth and God’s love at the same time.

Katherine M. Leahy


Law School

April 1