During the week of Oct. 12, Archbishop John J. Myers of the Archdiocese of Newark released a memorandum to priests concerning religious principles. Now some members of the Seton Hall community are worried about how the guidelines laid out in the memo might be carried out.
The memo, titled “Principles to Aid in Preserving and Protecting the Catholic Faith in the Midst of an Increasingly Secular Culture,” dated Sept. 22, was sent to priests the week of Oct. 12,
according to Religion News Service, which obtained a copy of the memo.
Considering Seton Hall’s location, the University would be within the scope of this new memo.
In the document it says, “Non-Catholics and any Catholic who publicly rejects Church teaching or discipline, either by public statements or by joining or supporting organizations which do so, are not to receive the Sacraments.”
It continues, “Parishes and other institutions of the Archdiocese should allow use of facilities only to persons and organizations which agree with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and its canonical legislation or, at least, not oppose them.”
Jim Goodness, the Vice Chancellor and Director of Communications at the Archdiocese of Newark, explained the context and meaning of the memo.
“The document that Archbishop Myers distributed to pastors last week very clearly says that these are principles,” Goodness said. “They are not ‘rules’ or ‘particular law’ being set down.”
It is the Archbishop’s duty to give advice and direction to priests and others involved in parish ministry, according to Goodness.
Some members of the Seton Hall community are concerned about the effect this announcement might have on campus. A petition was made online by the Allies Club to repeal the Archbishop’s memo. The petition reflects fears that this memo might have the potential to hinder groups of people coming together in support of gay marriage or other issues that go against the church’s teachings. As of Oct. 20, the petition has 287 signatures and a goal to reach 1,000.
The LGBT community is recognized at SHU via the Allies club which is acknowledged through the Office of the Vice President and is not a Student Government Association (SGA) recognized club. Dr. Andrew Brereton, the director of special projects in the Division of Student Services and the Allies faculty advisor, explained that the memo will not impact the clubs eligibility and Allies will not be disbanded.
Brereton said to remember that, “the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that homosexual persons ‘must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity,’ and that ‘every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided’ (#2358). Our division will continue to strive to embody this teaching.”
On Oct. 20, students of the Allies club started tweeting to the Archbishop with the hashtag #piratesandproud and #shu. One student tweeted, “God doesn’t judge, Pope Francis doesn’t judge, why should you?” On Wednesday Oct. 21 members of the community continued to respond to the memorandum by wearing signs expressing their concerns, according to Senior Abby Deely.
“We’re asking people to identify themselves as allies or their queer identity on the sign that are ‘addressed’ to the archbishop,” Deely explained. “By wearing the sign you’re helping protect safe spaces but you’re still going on with your day to day. We’re really showing that being queer or an ally doesn’t prevent you from being a positive addition to a Catholic campus community.”
Rebecca White can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.