All Catholic views on LGBTQ issues should be heard
Monday, Oct. 11, marked National Coming Out Day, a day for lesbian, gay, transgender and queer people, and their allies, to affirm their commitment to equal rights for LGBTQ people across America. Campus Ministry chose to mark this week by inviting Damon Owens, a speaker for the Theology of the Body Institute and New Jersey Director of National Organization for Marriage, back to campus.
The National Organization for Marriage, according to its website, “is a nonprofit organization with a mission to protect marriage and the faith communities that sustain it” that was founded “in response to the growing need for an organized opposition to same-sex marriage in state legislatures.”
Last year, Owens visited Seton Hall and spoke on same-sex marriage and homosexuality. He was here to present the views of the Roman Catholic Church on the issues. Likewise, in the fall of 2008, Seton Hall hosted the founder of Courage, a Catholic 12-step program for homosexuals modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous.
I believe it is highly unfortunate that the University insists on only presenting some of the more conservative views of the Catholic Church as the views of the Church as a whole.
The Catholic Catechism reads: “(Homosexuality’s) psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered . . .’ Under no circumstances can they be approved . . .The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This 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 goes on to call homosexuals to chastity, as it does all unmarried people.
In 1997, the Catholic Church removed wording from the Catechism that acknowledged that most homosexuals do not choose same-sex attractions but instead included wording calling it objectively disordered. More than 20 years before the Catholic Church’s change in wording, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association both declassified homosexuality as a disorder.
Regardless, as a Catholic institution, Seton Hall does have an obligation to maintain and support the positions of the Roman Catholic Church.
While I recognize the University’s desire to present a more conservative Catholic stance on homosexuality, I believe it must rise to the calling of the Church’s Catechism and work to avoid all forms of unjust discrimination against homosexual members of the Seton Hall Community.
Seton Hall should no longer invite speakers who will say that LGBTQ members of our community need a 12-step program without presenting an open forum for those who believe differently. Campus Ministry has the right to present the more conservative views of the Catholic Church on any matter it wishes; I just hope it will allow a forum for the more moderate Catholic views as well.
In the past month, there have been at least five high-profile cases of teens and young adults who committed suicide, many of them because they sought escape from bullying and discrimination because they were gay, or were believed to be gay.
Discrimination is a problem, and the Catholic Church has long advocated for the dignity of the human person. LGBTQ members of our society deserve to be afforded the same basic human dignities as their heterosexual counterparts.
Until the University begins holding more events that incorporate both the views of the more conservative members and more moderate members of the Church, Seton Hall will continue to appear unwelcoming to LGBTQ members of the Seton Hall community.
I am not asking Campus Ministry to cease hosting speakers. I just ask the University to provide balanced discussions and seek to advance the dignity of the human person by striving to avoid further “unjust discrimination” against members of the Seton Hall family.
Brenden Higashi is a junior political science major from Spokane County, Wash. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.