Archive for April, 2013

Students at a D.C. Catholic University Seek Ouster of Catholic Chaplain for Anti-Gay Comments

April 25, 2013

Reaction to a story published April 9, 2013 in Bondings 2.0.

by Doughlas Remy

Blake Bergen and Damian Legacy

Blake Bergen and Damian Legacy

(Background: Last month, two gay seniors at George Washington University in Washington D.C., filed a formal complaint with the University’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion against Fr. Greg Shaffer, Chaplain at the Newman Center, which receives funding from the GWU Student Association. The students, Blake Bergen and Damian Legacy, claim that Fr. Shaffer has created an environment hostile to GLBT students seeking pastoral care at the Newman Center.)

Fr. Greg Schaffer

Fr. Greg Schaffer

This is where change will come from. The new generation of young people in Catholic universities have little patience with spiritual bullying of the sort that Fr. Shaffer practices, and I believe they will either win their case against him or both the Newman Center and George Washington University will take a hit. Let’s not forget that students these days generally select the universities they will attend, and so they are a force to be reckoned with. GWU cannot survive without them. The Newman Center there depends on the GWU Student Association for a significant amount of its funding.

And let’s not imagine that it is just a couple of gay activists demanding Fr. Schaffer’s ouster. The two seniors mounting the campaign–Damian Legacy and Blake Bergen–have the support of many straight students on the campus, many of whom have also complained of Fr. Schaffer’s harsh counseling style and his homophobic homilies.

He tells gay students that they should be celibate for the rest of their lives (!) and calls their relationships “unnatural and immoral.” He called Legacy “wicked and faithless” and “intrinsically disordered” for being gay. Legacy reports that he was on an “emotional rollercoaster” for months afterwards, losing sleep and appetite.

Under the law, Fr. Shaffer is free to speak as he likes, even if his counseling is abusive. But if he is upsetting the students who come seeking pastoral care, then he may have to take his abusive speech elsewhere. The younger generation of Catholics are not afraid to challenge him.

Bergen and Legacy filed their complaint in GWU’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion. The University has a zero-tolerance policy toward harassment or bullying of LGBT students. Fr. Shaffer’s conduct appears to be in violation of that policy.

In response to charges that they are “persecuting” Fr. Shaffer, Bergen and Legacy have explained their position:

Let us be clear, we are not attacking the Roman Catholic Church. We are by no means asking the Church to change its views on same-sex marriage, nor are we seeking validation or celebration of our sexuality by the Church, or anyone for that matter.

What we ask is to be treated with dignity and respect at our university. We ask that the Chaplain of the George Washington University Newman Catholic Student Center, a man charged with the pastoral care of students by a non-university entity, treat each of us with equal love and value. We ask that our university provide a safe and welcoming environment for every student.

Can we not agree that our students should be safe in schools and that all bullying should be stopped? Furthermore, as an institution dedicated to acceptance and inclusion should GW not be called to take steps to stop homophobic bullying along with all other forms of bullying? We might not all agree about full celebration and inclusion of LGBT civil rights, but we can all agree that bullying should be considered unacceptable, especially from our spiritual leaders.

We have been criticized for waging an intolerant attack on civil liberties by speaking out against a religious leader for espousing discrimination and anti-LGBT rhetoric. Hate in God’s name is hate, not religion.

4/26/13: Further thoughts:

For some time now, we’ve been seeing the fruits of the diversity programs that began in the K-12 schools 20 years ago, especially in the progressive urban areas of the East and West coasts.  My own son, now 25, is a product of those efforts, and I couldn’t be more pleased. He gets along with everyone and I’ve never heard him bully or disparage anyone.

University students now have high, though certainly not unrealistic, expectations about the respect that they are due. It must have been a shock for these two GWU students to be treated in ways that would have been completely unacceptable in their K-12 schools. The Catholic Church is going to lose these young people unless it can change its message, which they rightly perceive as psychologically or spiritually abusive.

It is sad that the secular schools, and not the Church, were the ones to lead on this. What efforts has the Church made to stop bullying and teach respect for diversity in the schools?

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Yes, John Jalsevac, you are losing the gay marriage debate. And no, you will not start winning.

April 22, 2013

A response to John Jalsevac’s article in Crisis Magazine, “Why we are losing the gay ‘marriage’ debate (and how we can starting winning).” (4/16/13)

by Doughlas Remy

John Jalsevac

John Jalsevac

John, I believe you’ve presented a false dichotomy between marriage as “outward-looking and objective” on the one hand, and “inward-looking and subjective,” on the other. Why couldn’t a marriage, with or without children, look both outward and inward? Why couldn’t it include both family formation—including child-rearing—and sexual intimacy, companionship, and the self-actualization of the couple? Marriages may last as long as 60 years or more, during which only 20 years or so are dedicated to child-raising.

You describe the marriage vows for your two marriage modes as “permanent” and “temporary,” respectively, but few couples ever expect to break the vows they’ve made to form a life-long commitment. Sometimes marital situations become intolerable, in which case everyone’s interests (including children’s) may be best served by breaking up and getting a fresh start. And I am talking about ordinary people here, not Hollywood celebrities who stay on the covers of People Magazine and the tabloids by practicing serial polygamy.

In several ways, your list of “certain, solid, objective” facts about the foundations of marriage is not so solid.

First, as a gay man about to be married, I can assure you that I feel absolutely no “biological and psychological complementarity” with any woman. Else I would not be marrying a man. “Biology” is not just about organs; it is also about the chemistry of the brain.

Second, the solemn public vow need not be made before God. Instead, many people make that vow before their community. Non-theists do marry, you know, and their marriages are not inherently less stable than those of theists.

Third, civil law (at least in the U.S.) does not require procreation in marriage, so you are speaking to Catholics.

Fourth, the consensus of pediatric professionals is that children raised by same-sex parents fare no worse than children raised by a mother and a father.

One thing you got right is that “healthy, stable families are the necessary foundation of a healthy, stable society.” So why would you not encourage the formation of healthy, stable families by gay men and lesbians? Most people need and want sexual intimacy, companionship, and self-actualization—all within the framework of life-long commitment. Psychologists everywhere agree that these goods are in fact necessary for healthy living. The alternatives are loneliness, social marginalization, low self-esteem, and often promiscuity and other self-destructive behaviors. Is this what you prefer?

In listing the statistics about cohabitation, out-of-wedlock births, single-parent homes, and divorce—all of which are clearly social problems that could be remedied by a greater commitment to the institution of marriage—you neglected to mention the problems faced by gay men and lesbians who are DENIED the right to marry.

How can you disapprove of  both single-parent homes AND same-sex marriage, which would bring help to overburdened single parents?

How can you disapprove of both cohabitation AND same-sex marriage, which would allow gay men and lesbians to commit to each other in ceremonies that have the full recognition of the state?

Maybe your challenge is not so much to “roll back” the sexual revolution as to recognize that new and better syntheses are beginning to occur. The way forward is not the way back.

We (gays) are working to get our act together. What about you? Maybe opposing same-sex marriage is not where you should be directing your efforts. Instead of standing in our way, maybe you should be supporting us.

New Zealand Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

April 17, 2013

Earlier today, New Zealand became the thirteenth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. In this video footage, Prime Minister Maurice Williamson delivers a stirring and drole answer to the bill’s opponents.

Rainbow on day of SSM Legal in NZ

View from PM Williamson’s office after legalization of same-sex marriage in New Zealand

Self-righteousness

April 15, 2013

“[Jesus] has a lot to say about self-righteousness, which he compares, not very tactfully, to a grave that looks neat and well cared for up top but is heaving with ‘corruption’ down below. Maggots, basically. And the point of this repulsive image is not just that the inside and outside of a self-righteous person don’t match, that there’s a hypocritical contradiction between the claim to virtue and the actual content of a human personality: it’s also that, for him, being sure you’re righteous, standing on your own dignity as a virtuous person, comes precious close to being dead. If you won’t hear the bad news about yourself, you can’t know yourself. You condemn yourself to the maintenance of an exhausting illusion, a false front to your self which keeps out doubt and with it hope, change, nourishment, breath, life. If you won’t hear the bad news, you can’t begin to hear the good news about yourself either. And you’ll do harm. You’ll be pumped up with the false confidence of virtue, and you’ll think it gives you a license, and a large share of all the cruelties in the world will follow, for evil done knowingly is rather rare compared to the evil done by people who’re sure that they themselves are good, and that evil is hatefully concentrated in some other person; some other person who makes your flesh creep because they have become exactly as unbearable, as creepy, as disgusting, as you fear the mess would be beneath your own mask of virtue, if you ever dared to look at it,”

—Francis Spufford, from his recent book,Unapologetic.

Anal Sex (John Corvino)

April 10, 2013

Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin (John Corvino)

April 10, 2013

Why Not Polygamy?

April 10, 2013

polygamyBy John Witte, Jr., The Washington Post, 11/09/12  (excerpt)

Western writers have long argued, and modern studies now document, that polygamy is unjust to women and children – a violation of their fundamental rights and dignity, we now say. Young women are harmed because they are often coerced into early marriages with older men. Once pushed aside for a rival co-wife, women are reduced to rival slaves within the household. They are then exploited periodically for sex and procreation by emotionally detached husbands. They are forced to make do for themselves and their children with dwindling resources as still other women and children are added to the household against their wishes. If they protest their plight, if they resort to self-help, if they lose their youthful figure and vigor, they are often cast out of their homes — impoverished, undereducated, and often incapable of survival without serious help from others.

Children are harmed because they are often set in perennial rivalry with other children and mothers for the affection and attention of the family patriarch. They are deprived of healthy models of authority and liberty, equality and charity, marital love and fidelity, which are essential to their development as future spouses, citizens, and community leaders. And they are harmed by too few resources to support their nurture, education, care, and preparation for a full and healthy life as an adult.

Men, too, are harmed by polygamy. Polygamy promotes marriage by the richest not necessarily the fittest men in body, mind, or virtue. In isolated communities, polygamy often leads to ostracism of rival younger men. Polygamy inflames a man’s lust, for once he adds a second wife, he will inevitably desire more, even the wife of another. And polygamy deprives men of that essential organic bond of exclusive marital companionship, which ancients and moderns alike say is critical to most men’s physical, psychological, moral, and even spiritual health.

Read the entire article here.