Editor’s note: The following letters were received through the magazine’s React Online form and from those written or emailed to the magazine
Thank you for publishing this wonderful issue—especially the piece “God Gave me a Gay Son.” It is a remarkable journey that this father traveled, and I am so impressed that you published it and shared it with everyone in the ND family. Please pass along my thanks to the author, Thomas Nelson.
Shelly Scheuring ‘85
“We believe it is the kind of treatment readers would expect from a faith-filled and intellectually vigorous Catholic university”. And what a nice use of ages-old Catholic guilt to justify your treatment of this subject! If I find your “treatment” objectionable, I’m not “intellectually vigorous”? What I expect of an intellectually vigorous, authentically Catholic university is an exploration of truth illuminated by the Gospel. Homosexual behavior is a sin. Those practicing it are due our sincere compassion in helping them to overcome this temptation. They do not benefit from our encouragement of their pursuit of/submission to this temptation, anymore than a heterosexual adulterer.
I’m disappointed; 21 pages on this subject, 15.5 devoted to the pro-alternative lifestyle perspective. Come now! If we truly want to be Stanford, Duke, Northwestern, etc., we can’t allow even 5.5 pages of the Church’s teaching!
Here’s an idea! Why don’t we try to be Notre Dame, a true Catholic university?
Kevin Stolz ‘88
Yes, yes; no, no!
Deviation is evil.
Gil Roseira Cardoso Dias
In his struggle to come to terms with his son’s sexual identity crisis, Mr. Nelson has uncritically accepted the propaganda of gay activists: homosexuals are 5-10 percent of the population (researchers now put it at 2-4 percent); homosexuality is the result of genetics rather than environment (replicable proof of this has yet to be adduced); and the condition is irreversible.
It is a pity that Mr. Nelson is unaware of the work of men like Dr. Joseph Nicolosi and the National Association or Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). He would learn that those suffering from same-sex attraction—homosexuals—who seek treatment for their sexual identity crisis have a success rate up to 50 percent. This work is fully consistent with Church teaching that homosexuality is an objective disorder, but one that through effort and grace can be overcome. The Catholic Medical Association (www.cathmed.org) also publishes material showing how same-sex attractions may be identified and treated.
It is true that many heterosexuals have been insensitive toward homosexuals and all too often have let their hatred at the sin become a hatred of the sinner. But surely Mr. Nelson, in his obvious unease over the plain meaning of Scripture and the Catechism on the evil of homosexual practices, is in danger of allowing his love of the sinner become a love (or a least tolerance) of the sin.
Nicholas J. Healy, Jr. ‘60
Though I didn’t attend Notre Dame, I nearly did—my three brothers having attended, various cousins, an uncle who teaches there, my father buried there in the cemetery—but 15 years ago when faced ultimately with that decision the social climate was what made the decision for me. I wanted an alma mater that I was proud to be a part of, one whose policies and intellectual commitments reflected the great diversity of the world in which we live. As a young woman who made a decision to attend a secular college and, as a result, found myself in an increasingly secular life, separate from the Catholic church—I would have welcomed and applauded something like the 2004 ND Magazine covering issues and letting in the light of compassion for those gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender members of faith.
In my Catholic high school I never understood how one could revere Jesus and his works and act out of the kind of ignorance and hate I saw in routine homophobia that ran rampant in that school, many members of whom later attend ND or SaintMary’s. When I graduated I didn’t want to have to make a choice between my community of faith and my fervent belief, faith and love and support of the GLBT community, but ultimately, I did, and have. Perhaps in 2004 a young woman somewhere at a Catholic high school in the Midwest will find solace and hope in the dialogue happening here. Thank you to everyone brave enough to open their minds and hearts.
You could have done a much better job defending the church’s stance. People have a knee-jerk reaction to the more rigid “rules” of the church. If they took a moment to consider the motives of the church’s teaching, they might understand it’s about minimizing sin and staying within God’s grace. Alas that if something is too hard to follow than it is the church’s fault for being demanding. Faith without demands is no faith at all. I would like for you to devote a series of articles on abortion—and I would expect you to editorialize against that abomination instead of defend it. Or is that another church teaching to be trampled by the editors because of the inconvenience of the stance?
Lynn Chaffin ‘92
Editor’s/Authors, especially Thomas Nelson, Rose Lindgren, Ron Belgau, Christophere Davis:
I am in awe of the treasure that is the Summer 2004 edition. Many tears (of joy) shed on reading various of the articles.
Note: I stand by the Biblical line on aberrant homosexuality . . . i.e. the issue of [contextual] celibacy.
I have seldom if ever read a magazine from cover to cover that so thoroughly engaged me.
John Dunnigan ‘57
(Eastern Rite Bishop . . . Permanent Member: Papal/Patriarchal Conference)
I just received the summer issue of the ND Magazine and am very impressed with the way such a sensitive issue was handled. Great journalists show both sides of any story and you all should be proud of yourselves for making the effort! THANK YOU!!!
Martin van Koolbergen ’94Arch
I read the summer 2004 Notre Dame Magazine_ _ student homosexual articles. May I suggest that future homosexual students be eliminated by appropriate communication with ND student applicants. The alternative is to risk losing identification of ND as a Catholic university.
Lawrence T. Appelbaum ’50
Saint Louis, Missouri
The summer 2004 Notre Dame Magazine_ _ represents outstanding journalism. It deserves a national award. I respect your good judgment and balanced attempt in dealing with a very complicated issue and reality. As you state well, "Sometimes it’s okay to explore questions without arriving at absolute certainty." Notre Dame is a great university serving the Roman Catholic Church and the United States intellectually, realistically and enthusiastically. God has to be pleased!
Fred B. McCashland ‘70
I am writing to ask you to remove my name from your mailing list. The magazine comes in my husband’s name, but I read it faithfully, kept some wonderful articles, conversed with others about our favorite sections, what we read first. I sent the money. My husband never did, nor did he read it. I was a Saint Mary’s girl, he a Holy Cross (Massachusetts) man. I hung in after our daughter graduated in ‘88, hoping my twin grandsons would attend ND. Last year I got them to drive to see the school. The one boy had wanted ND since he was 5 years old. Of course, they loved it. Applied for early admissions and were wait-listed. These are two fine young men; no drugs, played three varsity sports, Eucharistic ministers, 1300 SATs, and they are turned away from what used to be the blue collar men’s university. We were all very sad. They were accepted at other colleges and will attend the College of Holy Cross in Massachusetts. I had prayed so hard God would guide their decision. Yesterday your magazine came and as I looked at the cover, I knew it would be all about gays. I glanced through it and threw it in the trash. Our Lord was showing us we are lucky the boys aren’t going there. We have a college in Madison, New Jersey, that advertises they encourage gays to apply. Enrollment dropped 40 percent. You have seen what it did to our Church, our priesthood. You think you can make this issue nice, everyday stuff. It is what it is and if ND becomes a gay school as it will after articles like yours, it will surely decline. ND is quick to jump on band wagons to go with novelties. I remember the big Lutheran craze where ND had all the big Lutheran convocations. They were selling out everything Catholic to appease the Lutherans. Where did that go? You will be sorry when they become a big power in the school. So, our boys lost out to gays. I’m glad they are not going. Remove our name from your mail, save yourself 50 cents.
Spring Lake, New Jersey
I know this nation has always had a history of crusading editors, but not many have taken on their own proprietor, the Catholic Church, like you have. Taking on the editorial theme of homosexuality in a Catholic magazine is at the same time gutsy and enlightening. Your issue was a terrific batch of stories of basic humanity that needed to be told, from the center of Catholic culture.
And the reason is simple: Homosexuality is genetic.
Our Creator God created them that way.
I know the genome detectives haven’t proved it yet, but genetic proof isn’t that far away. Meantime there are more than subtle data hints at it. Dr. Dean Edell, the radio doctor, is compulsive about data in medical testing. He reports a large study of identical twins who were raised separately. When one of such twins turns out to be gay, there is a 50% chance that the opposite twin is also gay. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that those statistics beat the Bible.
I also know that you are going to get pummeled by a good portion of the body of ND alumni. A hint about that came from the revealing story a couple of years ago about priestly abuse and the article by John Salveson. It is discouraging to me to see so many faithful ND alums running to defend something just because the Church says so.
You know where I stand. You’ve run several of my letters about with my stated position on the out-of-control world population and the Church’s position on abortion and contraception. I have incurred the wrath of quite a number of ND alums over the years. The 87 million increase EVERY YEAR in global population is in part because of the Vatican’s unseemly hold on the present US theocracy, which denies the Agency for International Development, USAID, funding for population matters.
Well, at 73, I am hoping God will see fit for me to live long enough for the genome researchers to find the genetic links to homosexuality. At that time, we will have another Galileo type of apology needed from our Vatican hierarchy. I am certainly looking forward to those days.
Keep up your great work, and damn the torpedoes.
John Minck ‘52
Palo Alto, California
I no longer wish to receive Notre Dame Magazine,_ _ and request that you remove my name from your mailing list. For the past several years, I have become disappointed with the politically correct content of your publication. I enjoy reading about the history of the university, the history of the buildings, the accomplishments of university alumni and faculty, and the university’s contribution to the greater good. However, I do not care to hear about the trials and tribulations of young people who think they are gay and misunderstood. Yes, some people are biologically predisposed towards homosexuality, but, as with any biological condition such as heart disease, an environment conducive to the development of such a condition plays an even larger role. Not everyone who is genetically predisposed to heart disease will suffer from it, and countless people who are not predisposed will, due to the circumstances of their environment, develop it. The same is true of homosexuality.
Several years ago, while working at a small Catholic university, one of my student assistants shocked me when she told me there was a popular saying on campus among many of the female students. The saying was “Gay ’til graduation!” In a nutshell it was somehow cool to have a fling with another woman as long as it was done within the confines of those crazy college years. These young women weren’t really gay. They all envisioned their future lives with loving husbands and families, but somehow they just had to experience the “gay thing” before they grew up. I wonder if those no-longer-so-young women will tell their children or grandchildren what they were up to at college all those years ago?
The point is, young people are, have always been, and will always be vulnerable to influences from society, their peers, and their parents. A twisted cultural peer pressure has made many of them think they’re gay, even though they really aren’t. Just turn on the TV and you’ll see a cacophony of messages that say being gay is not only OK, it’s cool. If you’re a slightly effeminate male, why you must be gay! And of course, if you disagree with the homosexual lifestyle, you’re summarily labeled a homophobe, not a member of the vast majority whose valid opinions are ridiculed because they’re out of step with the moral times. It seems to me that your magazine has simply become part of the cacophony. If you really want to portray a balanced view of the topic, why not take the bold step of distinguishing between real, genetic homosexuality and the newer, cooler manufactured version that is the sad result of society’s never-ending downward bent. Or how about publishing an issue about, gasp, the natural, God-given wonders of heterosexual love?
Guerino A. Bucella ‘83
We want to thank you for the articles regarding homosexuality that appeared in the Summer 2004 Notre Dame Magazine. As parents of a Notre Dame alumnus who did not come out until years after graduation, we feel that the subject must be addressed.
How to live his life as a gay Catholic was a major concern to our son when he realized he was gay. We were often told as children, “God knew you before you were born.” We believe that, and we know our son did not choose his sexual orientation, and that he was a faithful Catholic long before he realized he was gay.
We applaud you for exploring this issue.
Ann and Rick Fuller
Huntington Beach, California
So, homosexuality is "what’s happening on campus," according to your editorial in the current issue of Notre Dame Magazine, and your six articles on that subject. It is now time to move on from your subjective look at it, before Notre Dame just surrenders to the militant sodomites. Maybe it’s time for a compassionate Christian view? Suggestion: for balance, why not publish two additional articles outlining what is (or certainly ought to be) happening on the campus named for and dedicated to Our Lady of the Lake.
The first would be titled something like: “Homosexuality: Just a Lifestyle, or Intrinsically Disordered?”
This would summarize historic and current Catholic Church teaching, as opposed to the self-destructive anything-goes mentality in the activist homosexual crowd—and perhaps even on the Notre Dame campus.
The second article could be titled: “Not Born That Way: Avoiding and Escaping Homosexuality,”
This would affirm that the active homosexual chooses to be that way, just as active alcoholics choose to drink. Mainly, however, it would present the sources for hope and help on and off campus, including:
—Courage, making the case for the chaste homosexual life (couragerc.net)
—Catholic Medical Association, offering scientific info (cathmed.org)
—NARTH (National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality), with abundant sexual-reorientation resources and successes (narth.com).
Your six articles suggest that It’s Later Than We Think at Notre Dame. Here’s hoping these articles will appear for sure in your publication.
Carl F. Bachle ‘52
Keep up the excellent work! You did an especially fine job of covering homosexuality in your summer issue. Excellent coverage of a controversial, but extremely important, topic. I’m glad to see at lease someone at ND is willing to attempt a Christian position on this issue instead of acting as if homosexuals are somehow evil persons. You’ll get some nasty mail over this, I’m sure, but hang in there—God loves those who help their fellowmen, especially those who are shunned by the superficial, “holier than thou” Christians. God spare us from these folks.
John W. Hancock
Your summer 2004 issue: Why couldn’t you have just said that no one may break the Sixth Commandment and let it go at that?
John W. Snyder
Saint Louis, Missouri
I have just finished reading your most recent edition which discusses, among other items, homosexuality and Notre Dame’s “response.”
Your articles made the point, but not clearly enough, that we must hate the sin and love the sinner. Love the murderer, hate the murder. Love the pedophile, hate pedophilia. Love the addict, hate the addiction.
By loving gays, in no way can we ever condone or accept homosexual activity. Homosexuals living a homosexual lifestyle and raising children can never be accepted as moral. Practicing homosexuality is the same as someone with racist tendencies practicing racism. Someone with lust in his hear raping someone. Someone with murderous longings carrying out a murder.
Unless I misunderstand Catholic teaching, practicing homosexual acts is a sin. Love the sinner, hate the sin.
Douglas Marvin ‘69
Bethel Park, Pennslvania
This letter is in reference to the article entitled “God Gave Me a Gay Son.” According to God’s Holy Word, parents are supposed to instruct their children in the way of truth, as David instructed Solomon in First Chronicles 28:9, “And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imagination of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee: but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off forever.”
In order to serve the LORD we must obey his commands. The Bible tells us that homosexuality is an abomination in the eyes of the LORD. In Leviticus 18:22, God commands plainly, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.” So, such behavior in God’s sight is abominable, or “detestable, loathsome,” as stated in the first definition of the DK Illustrated Oxford Dictionary. The Bible further affirms in Genesis 1:27, “So god created man in his own image, in the image of God he created he him; male and female created he them.”
So, what was God’s intention for man? In Genesis 1:28 we learn “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it.” Again, the Bible reiterates in Gen. 5: 1-2, “…In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; male and female created he them; and blessed them…” Since God created man in His likeness, for the writer to boldly state that God gave him a gay son is blasphemous. Furthermore, God created male and female to replenish the earth. There is no other way to do this, except God’s way (with male and female).
I pray for this man’s son, for he has chosen a lifestyle for which his soul could be lost. His son needs much prayer, teaching of the truth and love. Love does not mean accepting the son’s choice. Love means standing firmly for God’s commandments without compromise to the salvation of souls. All of the earthly necessities provided mean nothing when you stand in opposition to the LORD, as this father has chosen to do with his son. Remember, it was the LORD Who said, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.”
Latauna Perkins ‘93
Pine Bluff, Arkansas
In the late ’50 I served on a Navy ship in Norfolk, and frequently on Sundays a chaplain—a priest of Slavic extraction—would come on board to say Mass. On one occasion he cautioned us of a problem on shore—homosexuals were cruising and offering young sailors money for sex. He ended up with an assertion I still recall verbatim (the only one among the thousands of sermons/homilies I have heard over a lifetime): "The Navy’s got hims, and it’s got hers, and it don’t need no its."
There was a time when Catholic institutions could make clear moral distinctions.
Buffalo Grove, Illinois
Most Catholic intellectuals agree that by making Western Christendom safe for reason, St. Thomas Aquinas saved the West from the narrow theocratic tradition that has plagued Islam and opened the way for the Enlightenment. It may have been the greatest achievement in the history of medieval and modern Western philosophy.
We are not so eager to admit that the Protestant Reformation had a similar positive impact by introducing religious and moral diversity to politics and necessitating the evolution of democratic forms of governance. But we should pay considerable attention to those events, especially in today’s increasingly integrated world. We are bound to the fates of Islam, China, India, Russia, Africa, South America: cultures, nations, and continents with diverse theological and moral traditions. In order to assure peace and tranquility in this interconnected world, we must find a way to declare as the people of Earth what our founding fathers claimed: We hold these truths.
Basing moral discourse on any religious view assures the failure of attempts to build the moral consensus required to ground the principles, laws, and institutions required of a diverse world or any country.
I should think that Catholic intellectuals would find this challenge irresistible. Let the Church declare its moral teachings. We must find ways to bridge those teachings with an authentic system of mature secular moral reasoning, locate the points of connection and separation between our Church’s moral teachings and our secular cannon, and build the capacity of our Church and universities to discern, respect, and teach those points.
On the one hand, it is shameful that American Catholic bishops attempt publicly to direct Catholic politicians how to vote on public matters. But it is also embarrassing to Catholic intellectuals that we have not developed the capacity to distinguish religious and secular moral reasoning and have not articulated a secular moral canon capable of guiding discourse and conduct in the public square. That done, the moral status of gays, gay sex, and gay marriage, would become far less complex for the Church, politicians, and the rest of us.
Pat Conroy ‘65
The summer issue on the homosexual presence on campus, and their condescending expectancies, must be tempered by realities of the church’s manifest apropos to this lifestyle.
As John Monczunski’s treatise expounds, “we love the sinner but not the sin.” The church is unequivocal in recognizing the homosexual nature, but as with priestly vocations, it demands celibacy. Those born with physical impairments (lacking arms/legs/hands/eyes, etc.) are similarly burdened and in God’s way must accept these deficiencies, but glorified in His eyes.
The accelerating advocacy of the gay/lesbian community loses its legitimacy when flaunting their lifestyle to the detriment of society’s mores. It becomes a mantle to encourage others to accept and adopt this mode. It is not altruistic, but beckons others to imitate/accept this modis operandi.
Their actions are devoid of the church’s overriding concern, “The inevitable consequence of legal recognition of homosexual unions would be to redefine marriage which would become, in its legal status, an institution devoid of essential reference factors linked to heterosexuality, i.e., the procreation and raising of children. Marriage would undergo a radical transformation with grave detriment to the common good.” Remember the “common good” in our logic/sociology classes?
Our creator never guaranteed an utopian existence. If you chose your private interpretation, there are other faiths who will accept “if it feels good, do it.” Other apologias are jaundiced raison d’etres. As my doctor grandson (‘95) suggests, "Why would anyone who has a great affection for the Catholicity indigenous to Notre Dame choose to enroll when their proclivities are opposed to the prevailing doctrines, unless it be to corrupt or defy ND’s truly Catholic commitment."
Vatican pronouncements should be required reading for all who profess a homosexual bent. Simply, to be a good Catholic does not allow the luxury of personal gratification. As General George Patton would intone, “Let’s get it straight—what part don’t you understand?”
William R. Waddington ‘45
Bayville, New Jersey
Having just read the Summer 2004 edition of Notre Dame Magazine, I am both shocked and dismayed at the appalling amount of homosexual activism on the Notre Dame campus and the apparent success it is having in normalizing homosexuality. That this should be taking place at any Catholic university is incredible, but that it should be happening at the one most notably dedicated to Our Lady is absolutely unbelievable.
You change the language and you change the debate. For example, at one time it was an unborn baby and to kill it was murder. Then it became a “fetus,” a much more obscure term, and to “abort” it was acceptable because, after all, it wasn’t really human, was it? Similarly, individuals exhibiting certain behaviors were known as homosexuals. Then they became known as “gays,” and their behavior became acceptable, in some circles even exemplary. You change the language and you change the debate. However, words do have meanings. Up is still up, down is still down, and call if what you will, homosexuality is still homosexuality and it is still objectively disordered. In other words, it is wrong.
Contrary to Sister Mary Louise Gude’s assertion, I believe that most of us Catholics do get it. Homosexual relations are at the core of homosexuality. The American Heritage Dictionary defines homosexuality as 1. sexual desire for others of one’s own sex. 2. sexual activity with another of the same sex. As Sister Gude states, homosexuals may not think about (homosexual) sex all the time, but it is by their own admission what defines them.
This whole debate on the Notre Dame campus, and in society in general, does not appear to be aimed so much at securing individual rights or “social justice,” but rather at normalizing homosexuality itself. There is no legitimate evidence to support the theory that homosexuality is genetic in origin and that some 5 to 10 percent of the population is therefore homosexual. Blaming God for creating people this way is a really cheap shot.
I found Rose Lindgren’s article particularly interesting because it relates most directly to campus life today. I have a few observations:
If words such as “fag” are not to be tolerated than neither should “homophobe/ homophobia.” As a heterosexual, I find such terms to be pejorative in nature. Perhaps the homosexuals need to be more sensitive to the attitudes and feelings of the heterosexual majority around them. I do not fear homosexuals. I fear greatly the consequences to our society and to our Church of acceptance of homosexuality as normal.
Miss Lindgren states that 2000 orange shirts were sold. Another article says 1600. Even if the 2000 figure is correct, that means that approximately 75% of the student body did not participate in this activity.
Miss Lindgren’s feelings are her own. If she feels judged and condemned when homosexuality and anorexia are compared because both are objectively disordered, perhaps it is because she knows that she is wrong.
With all of this attention being paid to the homosexual students, I would like to know what is being done to help the heterosexual students who may feel very threatened by all of this activism going on around them. With a new class of freshmen about to arrive on campus, I hope this would be a top priority.
Robert J. Whearty ‘58
Marlton, New Jersey
A glance at the cover graphics would indicate the purpose that was intended by the editor, and a reading of the article would support the impression. The intention was to present a justification for homosexuality. With a sense of affliction, it is seen that this has appeared in a Catholic publication.
For an individual reader, no effective recourse is available. But, to do nothing whatever would constitute a serious omission. I request the magazine editor to remove my name from the mailing list, and I request the school registrar to remove my name from the college records.
Paul Berry ’54
I recently received the Summer 2004 magazine. The inside back cover page related to your upgrades in the publication. I had a twinge of conscience and immediately thought I should send a check to assist in this progress. You noted that you had grown by 16 pages.
Continuing to peruse, I reached page 34, and from there to page 55, I found very little I condoned except the statement that “but neither it (OUTREACH ND) nor any other gay-related student group has succeeded in reaching formal recognition” by the University. My concern about not contributing to the expansion of Notre Dame Magazine is no longer a concern. The content of this expansion is not acceptable.
I will never be able to understand how my three years in the Army Air Corps and my four years at Notre Dame did not reveal any of the lifestyles that are now flaunted. Was my ear “all wrong” for discouraging this way of life or are you “all right” for encouraging it? I have to believe the former approach is correct and more acceptable!
Tom Feeney, Jr. ’50
I practiced surgery for many years in the San Francisco Bay area, where I developed a tolerance and cordiality for homosexuals and lesbians. I saw their tremendous increase in numbers in the ’60s and ’70s when everything became permissive. Drugs were rampant. The homosexuals began their bath house orgies and HIV became almost an epidemic. The head of the Public Health Department was a homo and refused to close them until Senator Diane Feinstein stepped in.
The Italian and Irish Catholics left in droves and many churches closed. The city is now run by those advocating their deviant lifestyle. It is full of pedophiles, male prostitutes and transvestites. Witness the recent flaunting of the law by their recent “marriages.”
The deviants actually proclaim themselves as elite, super beings. Now the school dedicated to the Virgin Mary is coming under their control! It is a sad time to see such a decline and fall of a formerly great Catholic university.
John B. Griffin
The official pronouncements of the church on homosexuality are like its official pronouncements on sex generally: their premises need rethinking. Traditional Catholic teaching regards nature as a system of ideal laws manifesting rational purposes and imperatives. But science has clearly shown that natural “laws” are circumstantial, conditional, and developmental. This grounding in material phenomena has led a central tradition in modern moral philosophy to seek its defining elements in the psyche whose complex interacting patterns form a structure traceable in physiology. By the psyche is meant the individual’s hereditary instinctual constitution as it is developed in and by social circumstances. The relation binding the individual to society generates norms which are flexible and adaptive, not predetermined by abstract ends. In the _Ethics _ Aristotle is similarly naturalistic: he defines various forms of prudence directed toward a plurality of moral aims. But the church’s “teleologies” in natural philosophy and theology prejudge and violate the experimental origins of moral reason. What do the Notre Dame authorities make of the social conditions at the university which played such a formative role in the sexuality of Christopher Davis and Greg Marita? Is there some notional law which would either explain or condemn their attachment?
Ideal conceptual “essences” do not rule nature by a process of coercive concretion; in this trance the actual order of creation goes unperceived, as it did for centuries before Galileo. The classic Thomistic rejoinder is that moral law is “revealed” or inscribed upon the conscience by a categorical imperative. But his only places the intellectualist prejudgment beyond any reach of argument.
The church’s traditional position could change; it is a product of time-bound assumptions about human nature which are dogmatic, legalistic, and uncritical. The threat of moral anarchy does not arise only from a permissive and inchoate liberalism; it can be provoked by norms which disregard the complexity and variability of human nature. The worst licentiousness is that of moral unreason.
Joseph Ryan ‘59
I wholeheartedly commend Notre Dame Magazine’s courageous decision to present such a thorough treatment of homosexuality, as far too much intolerance of gays and lesbians continues to permeate Catholic America. Here in New York City, for example, the lay organizers of the annual Saint Patrick’s Day parade up Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue continue to claim that adherence to Catholic dogma requires them to ban gay and lesbian Irish-American groups from participating. Most ironically, comparable gay and lesbian groups are welcomed in Saint Patrick’s Day parades in overwhelmingly Catholic Ireland itself! We American Catholics have a lot of evolving to do concerning this issue, and thank God your influential publication is helping to lead the way.
Bernard O’Brien ‘79
New York, New York
I read the Summer 2004 issue and all of the online comments. I guess I wanted to make a contribution because I do not see my own views represented.
First, I am gay. I graduated from Notre Dame in 1989. I also have not been back since.
Unlike most of the gay folks who wrote in, I am not only embarrassed about having graduated from Notre Dame, I also don’t have much desire, really, to be a part of the “Notre Dame family.”
Of course, it is difficult and painful when you feel rejected. But, for the life of me, I have never been able to understand why any gay alumnus would ever want to be part of such a deeply unwelcoming environment.
And, as if I needed to prove my point, you need to look no further than some of the rather acerbic comments written in response to your Summer issue. I have not been back because I find nothing about my own four years at Notre Dame—and very few people that were part of that experience—that I care to be a part of my present life.
Notre Dame is in the company of Brigham Young University and Bob Jones University in its policies toward its gay students. If you don’’t find that troubling, then nothing I can say is going to change your mind and I’’m certainly not going to waste any more of my time trying.
For me at least, Notre Dame’s discussion around and treatment of its own gay students and alumni is the perfect example of why Notre Dame is the functional equivalent of a madrassa in Baghdad and not a truly intellectual environment -and why the current leadership does not aspire to be anything else.
Rob Hennig ‘89
I enthusiastically applaud your courage to publish the Summer 2004 Notre Dame Magazine issue on homosexuality. In spite of being a heterosexual, married psychiatrist, I have worked with many gay and lesbian patients who have agonized over their sexual orientation in the light of the Christian doctrines with which they have been raised. I am deeply interested in, and have studied the Bible. So, I am happy to explain to these patients that Biblical commentary on homosexuality, which has been used for two millenia in Christian doctrines, has been completely removed from the historical context in which the books were written. And I tell them that defenders of the Catholic/Christian doctrine on homosexuality have also completely ignored the surrounding text of those same books. If my patients are interested, I then go through each verse in the Bible used to condemn homosexuality and illuminate the distortions and explain the actual historical contexts surrounding them.
For example, in both of the chapters in Genesis (Chap. 19: 1-8) and Judges (Chap. 19: 18-29) suggesting that homosexual acts are to be abhorred , “the righteous men” tell the would be sodomizers to rape their virgin daughters instead and, in Judges, also suggests that they rape the "hero’s" concubine. The concubine is found dead after the gang rape the next morning. In the books of Leviticus (17: 6, 18:22) and Deuteronomy (Chap. 23: 2, 17) which were written to define the laws governing the Israelites, the texts do specifically forbid homosexuality. The same texts also “forbid a bastard to enter the congregation of the Lord; even to his tenth generation,” and suggest you can eat your fill of grapes and ears of corn from your neighbor’s crops (but you can’t take any away in bushel baskets). There is nothing in any of the four Gospels mentioning homosexuality. In 1 Corinthians (6: 9-10) “neither fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor effeminate . . . shall inherit the kingdom of God.” No University of Notre Dame member would seriously believe that they should adhere to the teachings of most of these surrounding texts.
I do believe that the administration would adhere to the Corinthians teaching. However, I am very concerned that the University financially supports organizations that promote heterosexual dances (that undoubtedly lead to at least a few cases of the fornication . . . if things haven’t changed dramatically from when I was a student there) but refuse to financially support Gay and Lesbian support groups “because of concern that a court might not understand the distinction the Catholic church draws between sexual orientation and sexual conduct.”
While I admire the courage of your staff to publish this issue, I am deeply disappointed to read in it that my alma mater, the University of Notre Dame, a well known institute of higher learning, is clinging to Catholic doctrines which have long been shown to have been taken out of context by Biblical scholars to defend policies that overtly discriminate against homosexuals.
Margaret M. Miller, MD, ‘81
Surely I am not the only one who finds it ironic that while the Church is still reeling from the sex abuse scandals (overwhelmingly involving males with young males), Notre Dame Magazine chooses to put its thumb on the scales—by editorial selection if nothing else—in favor of welcoming more homosexual conduct. It is such infidelity that caused some bishops to turn a blind eye and wish the problem away rather than dealing with it as a problem of lack of orthodoxy, which it is.
We all have our crosses to bear, some more burdensome than others. Why homosexuals, however, have cornered the market on garnering sympathy for their cross escapes me—unless, of course, one takes the position that homosexuality is not meant to be a cross at all. But then you’ve crossed the line out of Catholicism.
To borrow from Fr. Richard Neuhaus’ reaction to the sex abuse scandals—the answer is fidelity, fidelity, fidelity. Notre Dame and its magazine would do well to keep this in mind.
Frank T. Pimentel, ’87, ’94