Catholic universities are losing what distinguishes them from their secular counterparts —their core religious values.
The most recent example comes from Washington, D.C.’s Georgetown University. Founded in 1789, it’s America’s oldest Catholic university, administered under a Catholic Jesuit tradition which may be showing signs of crumbling.
A student group called Love Saxa is being labeled as a "hate group" due to its founding principle — a loyalty to the Catholic definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
In response, the university’s LGBT community reared its militant head. Mere acceptance of its members’ sexual preference wasn’t enough. If you don’t share their views you’re automatically deemed a hater.
Student Jasmin Ouseph filed a formal complaint last month, alleging that Love Saxa should be defunded for violating the university’s "Student Organization Standards."
Those standards provide that "Groups will not be eligible for access to benefits if their purpose or activities . . . foster hatred or intolerance of others because of their race, nationality, gender, religion, or sexual preferences."
Georgetown Pride President Chad Gasman and David Friedman, president of the university’s Queer People of Color, joined Ouseph in her complaint.
According to its mission statement, Love Saxa "exists to promote healthy relationships on campus through cultivating a proper understanding of sex, gender, marriage, and family among Georgetown students."
The group also aims to "increase awareness of the benefits of sexual integrity, healthy dating relationships, and the primacy of marriage (understood as a monogamous and permanent union between a man and a woman) as a central pillar of society."
If you’re wondering where the hate comes in, you’re not alone. Love Saxa’s president, Amelia Irvine, said the organization is simply committed to Georgetown’s mission and Catholic teachings.
Irvine wrote in an email to The Hoya, the university newspaper, "We have never advocated for violence toward any individual or group, nor have we ever targeted any individual or group."
The "Student Organization Standards" also expressly prohibit "interfering with another group’s freedom of expression."
But Gasman takes exception to Love Saxa’s distinctly Roman Catholic messaging. "When they deny certain individuals who are queer access to this ideal standard of a relationship, they immediately say that all queer relationships are not as valid as heterosexual relationships," he claimed.
Obviously live and let live isn’t a part of Gasman’s mindset.
Over and above that, one has to wonder what he and other LGBT students expected when they enrolled at Georgetown — Oberlin? Smith? Berkeley?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church provides that "no ideology can erase from the human spirit the certainty that marriage exists solely between a man and a woman."
If Love Saxa thought the school newspaper would rush to its defense on a freedom of expression basis, it was mistaken. The Hoya’s Oct. 20 editorial blasted the group for promoting intolerance by “actively advocating a limited definition of marriage that would concretely take rights away from the LGBTQ community.”
Apparently The Hoya believes that First Amendment freedoms apply only to the press.
A growing trend
This isn’t the first instance that religious doctrine has crossed swords with liberal thought at a Catholic university.
In October of 2014, Indiana’s University of Notre Dame offered spousal benefits to same-sex couples, purportedly to comply with “relevant civil law”— in the absence of any such law.
This drew the ire of the Diocese of South Bend’s Bishop Kevin Rhoades, who argued that the university abrogated its duty to oppose laws where religious freedom "is threatened in potentially numerous ways by the legal redefinition of marriage."
Three Notre Dame professors — two from its college of law and one from its political science department — wrote a blistering critique early the following year, calling Notre Dame’s actions — as a Catholic institution — "morally indefensible."
One year ago almost to the day, the president of DePaul University, a Chicago-based Catholic school, prohibited its chapter of the College Republicans from displaying a pro-life poster bearing the phrase "Unborn Lives Matter."
The Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, the university president, argued in an open letter that the poster’s message amounted to "bigotry . . . under the cover of free speech" that "provokes the Black Lives Matter movement."
As Alexandra DeSanctis, writing for National Review observed, "What could be more 'Catholic' than fighting for unborn life?"
And similarly, what could be more "Catholic" than observing and celebrating the Catholic traditions governing the sanctity of marriage?
Michael Dorstewitz is a retired lawyer and has been a frequent contributor to BizPac Review and Liberty Unyielding. He’s also a former U.S. Merchant Marine officer and an enthusiastic Second Amendment supporter, who can often be found honing his skills at the range. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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