A course on gay marriage is being taught this semester despite concerns the Archdiocese of Newark had expressed this summer.
The Archbishop of Newark, John J. Myers, released a statement which further explained the diocese’s apprehension about such a course being held at a catholic institution.
“The church teaches – and has continued to teach for two millennia – that marriage is a union of man and woman, reflecting the complementarities’ of the sexes. That teaching precedes any societal connotation of marriage, and is based on natural law,” Myers said. “This proposed course seeks to promote as legitimate a train of thought that is contrary to what the church teaches. As a result, the course is not in synch (sic) with catholic teaching.”
In June 2010 the Setonian reported Seton Hall’s Mission and Identity committee would meet behind closed doors to discuss whether or not the course should still run in light of the University’s catholic mission and identity. No announced decision was made by the committee, according to The Star Ledger. However, the course has been meeting since classes began on Aug. 30.
Both students enrolled in the class, and the professor, W. King Mott, feel the class is not advocating gay marriage and should be considered similar to any other course which examines and discusses concepts.
Senior Ryan Dicovitsky, a political science major who is currently enrolled in Mott’s gay marriage course, believes students should have the opportunity to examine the church’s influence on a variety of topics, whether it is abortion, healthcare or gay marriage.
“It makes sense to discuss why we’ve reached our current definitions of marriage in this society, where we might be headed and the arguments used by all sides of the marriage debate.” Dicovitsky said.
The statement released by the Archdiocese mentions the teachings of the class may be contrary to what the church teaches. Mott previously spoke to the Setonian, focusing on the idea of learning rather than promoting.
“The class is not about advocacy, but about studying the issue from an academic perspective,” Mott said. “It’s about awareness.”
Senior Gesina Phillips, an English major, also taking the course this semester, is glad that it was not removed from Seton Hall’s curriculum.
“I think it would have been a shame if this class had not been allowed to proceed, not only because it is an interesting topic, but also because it would have been a blow to academic freedom,” Phillips said in an e-mail interview. “The gay marriage debate is a current and relevant political topic; therefore, it deserves the academic attention of students, no matter the religious affiliation of the college.”
The Archdiocese had nothing further to comment on the course being run.
However Mott stated, “I am pleased that all faculty continue to enjoy the privilege of teaching in their respective disciplines at this outstanding University.”
Nicole Bitette can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org