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Legally bound to Catholic teachings

Tom Nield | Thursday, January 28, 2010

 I am responding to a letter published on Jan. 24 entitled “Not our place to judge” by Jonathan Sarna. He had some interesting thoughts about judging homosexuals and a need to add sexual orientation to the University’s anti-discrimination clause that need to be addressed.

The act of judging (and prejudging) is something that everyone does every day. It is something we must do. When I chose to go to this school it was because I judged it to have excellent academic and social integrity. I “form a judgment or opinion of” (dictionary.com) the University. I judge every building I walk into as one that will not collapse on me. I form an opinion of the water I drink, holding the opinion that it is not contaminated.

In regards to morality (and more specifically homosexuality), Jonathan stated that “I don’t believe it is my place, nor Notre Dame’s, to be judge of morality.” To begin, someone must be a “moral” guiding light; otherwise there would be no set morals. As a Catholic institution, Notre Dame makes moral judgments based on the guiding light of the Catholic Church. The University should strive to uphold Catholic moral teaching in every aspect. Is stealing wrong? The Catholic Church judges it to be wrong. Therefore, Notre Dame does not tolerate theft because of Catholic doctrine in regards to stealing.

Homosexuality is no different. The Church judges that the “[homosexual] inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Part 2, §2, Ch. 2, Article 6, #2358). The Catholic Church judges that homosexuality is objectively disordered but that those with such an inclination need to be treated with respect and dignity. While we believe homosexual intercourse is wrong, homosexuals deserve respect and compassion because they are humans made in God?s image.

Notre Dame cannot, due to Catholic teaching on homosexuality, include sexual orientation into its non-discrimination clause. While having a homosexual inclination is not sinful in itself, including homosexuality in the clause “would be measured by civil courts that may interpret this change through the lens of the broader social milieu in which we live and jeopardize our ability to make decisions that we believe necessary to support Church teaching” (“The Spirit of Inclusion,” paragraph 12) at Notre Dame. Including sexual orientation conveys to the broader society complacency with and condoning of the homosexual lifestyle. Because the non-discrimination clause is a legally binding agreement, the University cannot include sexual orientation due to Catholic morality.


Tom Nield


Morrissey Manor

Jan. 26