Editor's note: The following letters were received through the magazine's React Online form and from those written or emailed to the magazine.
The Catholic Church: How Can We Make It Just, Inclusive, and Accountable?
I approach this morning's topic as a gay man. I have been gay since I was a child. I was gay when I graduated from Notre Dame, 50 years ago this month. I am still a gay man.
Being gay is not a choice. It is like being left-handed. If you are a lefty, you can do your best to write with your right hand. But no amount of effort will make you a right-handed person.
The Vatican tells me that I am "intrinsically disordered" and that I possess a "strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil."
I find it impossible to think of myself in this way. I am as I came from the hand of God. I was not intrinsically disordered or immoral when I was student body president here at Notre Dame 50 years ago. Nor was I disordered or immoral when I pursued studies at Oxford and Harvard, worked as a government policymaker, served 32 years in the military, helped raise two fine children, and founded a nonprofit organization that continues to benefit the nation and the world.
More important, I find the Vatican's message to be inconsistent with the central themes of the gospels. Christ's words and a careful reading of Biblical texts, not misguided official statements, should be our guide.
Absent change, the Church's current views on gay and lesbian issues will continue to alienate a significant percentage of each generation of young Catholics, including many capable and idealistic individuals. Ending this loss will require a willingness to study the facts, the humility to change one's views, and Christ-like compassion.
Thomas F. Field '54
I graduated from ND in 1986. Since that time I have felt virtually invisible as an alumna until this summer's issue of Notre Dame Magazine. Thank you for publishing an issue that talks about my experience with life at Notre Dame and my experience as a lesbian alumna. I have always enjoyed the high quality content of your magazine, which is the only contact from Notre Dame that has continued to resonate with me. Once again, you are leading the way in presenting clear compelling journalism that unfolds another layer of the mystery of life to be contemplated by those of us who grew up in the shadow of the Dome.
Barbara Grant '86
Well, the story about "what the church has to say" by John Monczunski doesn't have it quite right. The church does not condemn as illicit the sexual activity of married people who are unable to have children. So much for that argument. The bottom line is the church has it wrong—as they have had any number of things wrong in the past: ask Galileo or Luther or money lenders in general. Get it right, guys, the clock is ticking.
William Dell '69
I found the articles to be slanted toward one side of the issue and most assuredly against the teachings of the Church. To be more complete, you should have included an article on Exodus International, a Christian organization that proclaims freedom from homosexuality—definitely not politically correct but successful nonetheless. You hear nothing of that angle in the liberal media today, which Notre Dame Magazine continues to aspire to be a part of.
Ed Knauf '81
Rochester, New York
Terrific! Finally, a set of insightful and personal articles on a topic that typically is swept under the rug at ND. For the thousands of us alums who are gay, the magazine speaks to us on our terms. In the past, the magazine often had heterosexuals writing about gay issues as if these were arbitrary choices; now our voices can be heard. No matter what other alumni will inevitably write, our only choice in life was either to be true to ourselves or to suppress our orientation. We did not choose to be gay, we chose to be who we are—and are all the healthy and happy for making that decision. Witness the many who have suppressed their sexual orientation or tried to hide it in marriages that didn't work. Bravo to ND Magazine for opening up the discussion at long last.
Peter Nardi '69
I personally am shocked and somewhat offended by the content of the current magazine. If you people want a forum for multiple articles on homosexuality, write your own compilation and publish it independently. I've generally looked forward to reading your work, but this edition bothers me. Please omit my name from your mailing list. I no longer want to receive the magazine.
Peter J. Davin
Thank you. I think this was an excellent grouping of articles. The interview with ML Gude very much sums up the conflict of issues involved.
John Monczunski's summary article is a clear and inclusive essay on the teaching of the Church. What he does not relate to is that this teaching has been developing by fits and starts since 1957. Generally the teaching has been opening up to the complexity caused by people being aware of orientation as separable from "acts."
I find it somewhat interesting that this piece was done by an editor and not by one of the numerous theologians who might be thought the be available. But it is a pretty hot topic to ask a theologian to write about without danger to his position. Sad!
The other thing that struck me is that the personal articles all have to do with experience and the search for a person with whom one is called, before thought and decision, to enter into deep interpersonal relationship. Even Belgau, who presumably has something more to say about celibacy than it satisfies his conflicts, spend much of his essay telling readers about the importance of friendship in his life. Nelson talks about the importance of always loving his son and thereby being open to his needs and experience. Lindgren and Davis both write about the search for relationship. Perhaps a new theology of sexuality and marriage might start from the words of God in Genesis, "It is not good for the human to be alone" and look at how the experience of fulfilling that idea has found fulfillment in a world of cultures and ideals. Thank you for this contribution to understanding the dilemma (as ML Gude talks about it) and giving some indication that really morally good people face this "can of worms" and let it wriggle itself out into decisions that lead to peace of heart and soul. Maybe even to the glory of God!
Milt Adamson, CSC, '62
I am grateful to Mr. Nelson for his thoughtful, insightful and poignant essay. As a straight male with several gay friends and acquaintances, I can not understand for the life of me why so many feel threatened by people whose sexual orientation is different. Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people share the hopes and fears of every person—the hope to love, the fear of loss, the joy of sharing life with another person, the pain caused by death. They have parents, brothers, sisters, and even children.
Our world will be much better off when we all agree that bigotry in any form and against any person is unacceptable and should be eliminated-not with a club, but with love and respect, as God has commanded us to do.
William Wilson '88
South Bend, Indiana
So, there's people at ND that are attracted to the same (or both) genders. OK, this is new? Why is ND Mag even covering this? Will there be upcoming issues on folks who prefer the missionary position, etc.? After all it's just sexual preference, right? One thing's for certain: We're all sinners. It seems that Christ's message is to hate the sin but love the sinner. Whether we cheat on tests or tax returns, tell lies, engage in pre- and extra-marital sex, homosexual behavior, etc. we're committing sin. We do our best (relying upon the grace of God) to grow beyond them. Whether one is professed to celibacy, single or married the opportunities for misbehaving are extraordinarily many these days. But, I don't hear the Gospels, the Holy Father, etc telling us.."Well, if you are BORN that way it's really okay though."
God gave us not only free-will to make choices but also an intellect that enables us to rise above animal behavior. To say we cannot is to deny ourselves as God's creations. How long is even the hardest, loneliest life on this Earth compared to the eternity of one's soul? We accept the hand we're dealt and we do our best to glorify God in this life be it easy or difficult.
The "Gay? Fine by me" T-shirt thing would have been better not using the color orange. It's odd that a Notre Dame based group—fighting oppression, etc.—would choose a color so many in the Notre Dame family see as brutally oppressive to our Irishness and our faith!
Tim McKeogh '80, '81 MCA
Chagrin Falls, Ohio
FINALLY! A voice for our gay brothers and sisters. I am so pleased that ND Magazine took this step in its summer issue. Those of us with gay friends and family members have long been troubled by the lack of voice for this group—countless numbers of whom are loyal sons and daughters of the University who have for too long been denied a voice. My prayers will continue in the hope that the University will move to take the final step toward complete recognition and support of gay and lesbian campus organizations. Other Catholic institutions have done so; it is past time for Notre Dame. If we are to follow Christ's command to "love one another," we can do no less.
(spouse of one alum and parent of two more)
Little Silver, New Jersey
This is a courageous and much-needed contribution to the discussion over the role of the gay and lesbian members of the Notre Dame family. My four years at Notre Dame were made immensely painful as the institution I deeply loved consistently taught that I was sinful, so sinful that "my kind" were not even permitted to meet publicly on campus. After so many years of receiving destructive and toxic messages about gay and lesbian people, this issue of Notre Dame magazine arrives as rain on parched ground. May it lead to conditions where greater respect and integrity can flourish on our beloved campus, in our families, and in the wider world. Thank you!
Joe Mitzel '87
The magazine is a perfect reflection of what the school has become: A secular caricature of its former self and a disgrace to its namesake. If I wanted to go to an Ivy League school, I would have gone to an Ivy League school.
Assuming it's even possible, cancel my subscription.
Daniel P. Duffy '87
Congratulations! The recent issue of _Notre Dame Magazine_ raised the matter of gay and lesbian life at ND that has long needed to be addressed. This of course is only the beginning of the discussion, but it is a start. For that, again, thanks.
Richard Giannone'64 Ph.D.
I met a wonderful 70-year-old ND alumnus on his way to a reunion weekend. He told me how he was going to get to see a dear friend. I asked him what made for a dear friend? He said this man was a survivor of a most terrible WWII ordeal. Thus his friend was his lifelong role model for survivorship. As a dear friend they attended the weddings of each other's children, made contact on holidays, attended funerals. I said that was a good friend, but I still wondered what made him a dear friend? He said he loved this man. He was attracted to him. Loved just being in his company. I asked if he ever told this man that he loved him. He said his friend just knew it.
As for survivorship, I think that if we are going to survive as a species we, especially as men, will have to pay attention to whom we are attracted, and assume nothing. As men we are going to have to learn to express our genuine appreciation for each other and deal with the accountability that accompanies love. I think homophobia is polite fiction for our cowardice and total failure as men to learn a variety of ways to express deep love for each other, and figure out how to get that done without having to get drunk or beat the other guy in golf, before we have the courage to express a genuine friendly attraction and in some cases even love.
We use homophobia as this socially acceptable barrier to excuse ourselves from accepting the responsibility of expressing the affection between men that I feel the apostles might have had. We have taken our infatuation with individuality to a lonely, unhealthy, warring extreme. Showing men they are our dear friends should not fall in the category of missed opportunities recognized on our death beds. Unless we admit there are healthy same-sex attractions, and find our place on that spectrum, we could end up just self-destructing as a species.
I think homosexual men have something to teach us. I think Christ very likely had an intimate relationship with Saint John, the beloved apostle, and Mary Magdala. We should admit our deep caring for each other and develop healthy social skills and stamina of character to explore same- sex attraction. As straight men we are inept. If I was walking on the road to Emmaus I imagine my first attraction to Christ would be a deep intimate feeling. Would I allow myself to see or be too homophobic?
Roger G Klauer, MD, '75
I commend the editors of _Notre Dame Magazine_ for an excellent and balanced set of articles on the issue of homosexuality. It is an issue I often take up on my blog, www.dailycontentions.com ... for instance, I have a recent post on the politics surrounding the FMA. Believe it or not, a Catholic Republican can oppose the FMA and support gay marriage on both moral and political grounds.
Lucas D. Sayre '04
After reading page after page of aberrant behavior I cannot describe my relief when finally getting to Mary Sue Twohy.
Ryan and Luke have been unduly burdened with the enigma of unknown real parents and now unique family values.
What provoked this gay-lesbian tome? Does sexual behavior of a few deserve all this attention? As a student I had gay friends. We attended gay bars. Since we were all okay with our own sexuality, it was never an issue.
As a military man I observed what the Navy called "overt homosexuality." We luckily had one man honorably discharged. A second man wasn't so lucky. He was lost as sea.
This Catholic University should not revise its present policy re gay issues.
It would be interesting to include a film of San Francisco's Gay Pride Parade along with that Rockne gem at that freshmen orientation.
Vic Tallarida '52
San Diego, California
The reverse discrimination argument against parietals is one we never thought of as undergraduates, but then in those days this was the one subject you couldn't bring up. Lord have mercy.
Dave Khorey '81
Congratulations! Finally articles about an important topic ignored for too many years. As a gay alumnus of ND, I have written in the past to the University itself and this magazine commenting on the poor way that the University has dealt with gay and lesbian issues in the past. I experienced several difficulties myself while at ND—including my mentor in 1969 writing to medical schools saying that I should not accepted since I was gay. (Luckily, all the schools ignored that letter, and I enjoyed my experience at Harvard Medical School). As the author of the major textbook on homosexuality and mental health (Cabaj RP, Stein TS (eds): The Textbook of Homosexuality and Mental Health, American Psychiatric Press, 1996), I am especially appreciative of the series of articles since it will hopefully provide comfort of the many gay and lesbian students currently at ND, the alumni, and the parents of gay and lesbian students and alumni. Great work, long overdue!
Robert Cabaj '70
Thank you for your coverage of "The love that dare not speak it's name." I was moved by all the articles, even the one concerning celibacy. Some people are truly presented with that charism. Others, like myself, have found that we have come to know a more loving, compassionate God, by knowing God through knowing another intimately, through thick and thin, even until death. In the aftermath, we have learned something more about the eternal, transcendent nature of love and God's continuing presence.
You have done a great service to the Notre Dame family by raising these complex issues in such a sensitive, thoughtful and caring manner. Even more importantly, you have included a segment of the Notre Dame family at the table, that has not been heard from before, her gay, lesbian bisexual and transgender alumni/ae.
Formed 12 years ago and with more than 850 members nationally and internationally, we cordially invite all alumni and friends who wish to learn more about the Gay and Lesbian Alumni/ae Association of Notre Dame University and Saint Mary's College to contact us at our website:www.galand/smc.org
David E. Pais '72
Co-chair GALA ND/SMC
What a breath of fresh air to receive my _Notre Dame Magazine_ this joyous summer of 2004! I thoroughly enjoyed the open discussion and points of view by the many educated men and women of the Notre Dame family. Living in San Francisco (as I am sure many of us Domers live in large cities), I know many many gay people—many Catholic gay people—old, young, men, women, single, and partnered-for-life. All are so wonderful, friendly, generous, courageous and caring citizens. They are all a part of the fabric of this country that makes our free society so colorful and compassionate. I am so very thankful that finally Notre Dame is coming out of the Ice Age and discussing what has been in the closet much too long. We need to support each other, accept each other, and love each other. There is no room for hate in my family. Ignorance breeds hate, and this issue of the Notre Dame Magazine goes a long way toward educating alumni on the issues facing gay Notre Dame students and the nearly 1,000 alumni who have formed an alumni support group for Notre Dame men and women who just happen to love a little differently, but are loving children of God nonetheless. I wholeheartedly support continued discussion on topics related to social injustices (racism, sexism, homophobia and poverty).
James V. Gatteau 3rd '89
Congratulations to _Notre Dame Magazine_ for dealing so honestly with homosexuality. The series of articles is informative, lucid and quite valuable. At a time when gay people suffer so much immoral discrimination, it is satisfying to see the magazine take such a courageous and enlightened stand.
John Rockne Guinn '57
Grosse Pointe, Michigan
Congratulations on a timely coverage of the tough problem of homosexuality. The article by Tom Nelson struck home with me, except my first reaction to one of my son being gay was concern for him, then my concern.
(Francis E.) Gene Moore '45
Thank you so much for printing the article, "God Gave Me a Gay Son." Homosexuality is not chosen, but a God given blessing. Through my own son I have met the most loving, beautiful people from the gay community. We all should practice loving our neighbor and treating others the way we would wnat to be treated. Why is Jesus Christ's words never used to show the way gays are treated is bad? Jesus didn't say unless your neighbor is gay or anything else. It wasn't that long ago when another minority group was being maligned with Bible quotes!
So the _ND Magazine_ editors consider these volatile issues! I do not think so—along with 90 percent of the population. Who considers Catholic teaching volatile?
Kathryn L. Smith
Farmington Hills, Michigan
Excellent coverage of an issue that has long been ignored on campus. The longer I am away from "the shadow of the Dome," the more I wish for continued diversity, tolerance and acceptance at my alma mater. It seems as though progress, albeit slow, is being made. However, I wish for an acceleration in the recognition of a university-approved student organization to serve the needs of gay, lesbian and bisexual students. ND cannot continue to "not recognize" a portion of its student body and ignore its needs. Christ's teachings of tolerance, love for others, and not judging others certainly apply here and should provide strong guidance to Our Lady's University in formulating its approach. I have two friends from ND who have come out of the closet since graduation—I only wish they had had the resources available to assist them when they were challenged by the homophobic and conformist dorm culture.
Todd Vician '92
It was a great pleasure to read Tom Nelson's article on his gay son Mark in your recent issue. His story is a moving one which has similarities to the experiences of so many other parents of gay children: the surety of "having all the right answers" as well as the pain of discovering the need for a whole new journey to find answers to the questions which arise when your child says, "Mom, you know I'm gay, don't you?" Then I had to do what Tom Nelson did and re-educate myself in the light of this new knowledge in my life.
It is NOT easy, and it is SO rewarding. I, too, can say, "Thank God for my gay son!"
The church needs to become more accepting in many areas. We must "open" ourselves to "true love" and acceptance. We must STOP this schizophrenic existence that the Church portrays. Yes, there ARE gay priests and yes there have been pedophile priests but 98 percent of the pedophiles are heterosexual. A person should not have to "ignore" God calling one to the priesthood or religious life because they are gay. They DO have the responsibility to fully acknowledge and live their vows though. This goes for all religious who take vows. This speaks of a persons "character."Any person who chooses to represent our Church, should be bound by the ethics that have existed since the Church's inception (even-though there have been many rough and tumultuous times in the past).
Priests should also be allowed to choose between the celibate life or the life of a married priest. Until Gregory the XIII "requested" then "required" that the clergy be celibate, the Chruch has maintained that this is in representation of Christ. That is an outright lie. The Church quit allowing priests to marry, due to the fact that the Church could "seize" the young man's land-holdings and thusly acquire more and more land. In the feudal times, land was wealth, much like it is today.
This was NOT an "act" to represent Jesus' life, but an outright "covering-up" of the church's greed and desire for TOTAL power!
Celibacy should be a choice and an active choice, but one should NOT have to sacrifice love for another person because they want and desire to serve God and the Church. When we study at the university level, we just don't study ONE book and say that's the LAW, yet we tend to do this with the Bible. Many have NO working knowledge of the "truth" about the Bible, nor is the Crurch willing to share their knowledge with the "lay-people" in dealing with this book. Yes, some of it IS the voice of God and some of it is rubbish. I feel that the statements about homosexuality fall into the rubbish category. Why would Christ teach love, TOTAL Love and then turn around and condemn a group of people. Something is NOT right in that thinking. Personally, I do NOT believe that he ever taught that homosexuality is or was wrong. How can love be wrong??? WE NEED MORE OF IT not less. Remember the two most important precepts that Jesus taught. They are both based on love of God and love of man.
I simply want to thank you for the package of articles on homosexuality. These writers have conveyed very important thoughts and feelings about their lives and the lives of so many others. I am a friend of a student who had already told me how she proudly wore the orange T-shirt described in one of the articles. I was so proud of her at the time for being part of a community that affirms rather than condemns children of God who reveal another aspect of his loving presence in our world.
I am greatly disturbed by Mr. Temple's statement in his editor's note that: "Homosexuality is . . . a fascinatingly rich subject that gets into human nature, love and sexual attraction; brings together science, psychology, sociology and religion; that involves family, morality and cultural mores; that raises questions of Catholic doctrine and the individual's conscience."
The essays that follow make it clear that the homosexuality that Mr. Temple is discussing here is not merely the homosexual orientation, but, in fact, active (or, as he puts it, 'open') homosexuality. To describe a lifestyle involving the commission of capital sins as 'fascinatingly rich' is indeed perverse. I am deeply ashamed of the University's cooperation with Mr. Temple's editorial decisions.
Christopher O. Blum '66 Ph.D.
Front Royal, Virginia
Thank you for your wonderful articles on gay issues in the Summer 2004 issue. I am very proud of what you have done and the courage you have displayed in so doing. The articles were as touching and emotional as they were important and profound. Don't let anyone tell you differently!!! Keep up the good work.
Tom Fox '96
The U.S. Census 2000 reported that 1.51 percent of Americans are gay, lesbian or bisexual. But even taking the inflated estimates reported in your magazine that 5 to 10 percent of the U.S. population is gay, why would you devote an entire issue, or 25 percent of your annual editorial output, to that central theme? It is this kind of in-your-face overemphasis that distorts gay-ness in America and alienates heterosexuals like me. Balance, please.
As a member of the class of 1994 who happens to be gay, I'm so proud that you've taken the bold step to discuss the issues concerning Gay & Lesbian members of the Notre Dame family. Being a student at Notre Dame always has many challenges, and Gay students are also forced to struggle with self-acceptance. After college, I realized I was gay and looked for a church that would accept me. I found self-acceptance by joining a very welcoming Episcopal Church in Beverly Hills, CA. I wanted to let readers of ND magazine know that God's grace is available in many different places. I have been blessed by my Notre Dame education, but I've also been blessed by being a Gay Christian. I challenge the conservative readiers of ND magazine to get to know Gay & Lesbian members of the Christian faith. I think they will learn a great deal about God's creation, and that we are all God's children. Thanks again for your objective reporting on a somewhat taboo subject at Notre Dame.
Peace to you & your staff always,
Troy Mendez '94
Los Angeles, California
I appreciated the extensive coverage of the gay and lesbian community of Notre Dame in your latest issue; I was a member and former chair of GLND/SMC in the 1980—what a difference time (and demonstrations of the '90s) has made in the coverage of gay and lesbian issues at Notre Dame. We still have a long way to go, but the light glows a bit in a very dark world.
Betty J. Bruther '96 Ph.D.
Notre Dame Magazine will now explore the new age religion of existentialism and pragmatism as the replacement religion for Catholicism. Legitimization of sodomy was announced as a new editorial policy by the editorial board in its' latest edition. Now Notre Dame magazine can team up with Soros and tell the big lie. Homosexuality, abortion,eugenics etc. are not excersize of free will , they are sins.
Cancel my subscription. Temple you are pathetic.
Robert T. Fanning, Jr.'73
I want to express my appreciation for devoting so much space in the summer issue of Notre Dame Magazine to gay and lesbian issues. I found the section very moving. So often, when the Church makes its pronouncements on homosexuality, it seems like it has not taken time to listen to the stories of its lesbian and gay members. Thank you for taking the time.
John Colligan '77 '78
Congratulations for an excellent issue dealing with "the love that dare not speak its name"—a timely and balanced approach on a subject that demands prayerful attention.
Richard Stevens '54
Nice articles on homosexuality. A series on other disorders would be welcome. The normal adjustments people have made in spite of their diabetes, epilepsy, cancer, panic disorder, schizophrenia, etc would be as nice as hearing about fairly normalized homosexuals. Of course the first step for treatment of anything is the acknowledging that one has a disorder in the first place. To proclaim that any disorder is normal is the clearest sign of the pathology of the disorder. Treatment works. Denial does not. Denial is especially offensive when we are asked to affirm what our minds, hearts, traditions and nature tell us is abnormal and in need of help. Homosexuality will never be understood until all the medications his or her mother took (including and especially including "the pill") during the pregnancy are known.
Samuel A. Nigro, M.D., '58
Human happiness, always in short supply on earth, is more important than obedience to ancient doctrine. Fortunately, the flock is leading the pastors.
Dick Reynolds, Ph.D. 1969
I was totally shocked and disgusted with your magazine this month! I sent my child to a Catholic/religious school for a reason. The comments that being a homosexual is a normal condition. That it must be right because God created them and God doesn't make mistakes. Those comments must then be applied to other individuals with deviant behavior ,also. Did God mean for someone to turn into a serial killer? Did he mean for the Mormons to have more than one wife? Did he mean to have pedophiles? Was it an accident that he destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah? After all ,he created those individuals, also.
You are just trying to be a friend to the world by publishing this rubbish. If you do read the Bible, you know that God says you cannot obey his word and be a friend of the world at the same time. Hollywood and the media are full of homosexuals and therefore are telling the world that this is normal and that we should accept this deviant behavior. If they were full of pedophiles that is what we would also be seeing on TV. If you speak up as a Christian, there is no tolerance for our beliefs, which have lasted over centuries. Look at the abuse the thousands of kids have been put through in the Catholic Church alone. They are admitting that the problem was caused by allowing homosexuals in the priesthood. And here you are glorifying it as just another lifestyle. That is just another slap in the face for the victims. Look at the Gay Pride Parades . . . how can you say it is a normal lifestyle to see all of the vulgar behavior?
You need to question your reason for putting this in the magazine in the first place. You are not following Catholic doctrine. You are not following the Bible teachings. So what was your reason for putting it in a magazine that has a religious foundation? I hear the comments, oh we don't want to judge anyone that it is up to God to do that. Would you allow a teacher with deviant behavior to teach your children? A pedophile . . . a teacher who is a stripper at night . . . a prostitute . . . a bigamist . . . someone who is married to their dog?? Don't you see that this is where it is going. How can you say one deviant lifestyle is okay but not all the others? The media has been saying that being homosexual is the okay one. So now the followers have heard it enough that they repeat it.
God is not going to put up with this much longer. You need to turn off the TV and sit down and spend more time reading the Bible. God will judge us for whether we keep his word. I stand with him and not the world. You can't have it both ways and in today's sinful world it is now the Christians need to stand against evil. I am not some crazy zealot. I am an elementary school teacher, and I am nice to everyone. I would not be mean to someone because of their problems. But I see everyone just falling away from taking a stand because of the media. I see what they are doing and I will not back down. Homosexuality is a sin and will always be a sin.S o what else will be in your next issue? "God Gave Me A Stripper Daughter"; "How I Became a Prostitute at ND"; My Dog, My Husband . . . an Alternative Lifestyle"? Why can't you see that this is no different than what you just published? The only difference is that the media has desensitized you to the issue. I hope you have been given a lot of grief for this issue.
Shame on Notre Dame for allowing this to be published under their name.
In July, I brought my new boyfriend, Peter, home to meet my family. My Dad (class of 1949) died in 1989. My family now consists of my mom and two aunts. My boyfriend is from Jamaica, and I had no idea how my mom and aunts would react to my dating someone of a different race. I was so happy and pleased that Peter was welcomed to the family with open arms. I picked up my mail at my mom''s house and read the articles on homosexuality in Notre Dame Magazine on the drive back to Manhattan. I thought the articles were great. Having your family being happy for you and accepting of your partner is very important. I am so happy for the people in the articles that they have acceptance and love from their families. I was especially touched by the article "God Gave Me a Gay Son." The personal growth Thomas A. Nelson experienced from all his children was wonderful. Thank you for a great issue!
Kathleen Cavanaugh '84
I think wasting good space in a normally good magazine on a subject held in contempt by the church was not a good idea. You are a school known for sports, excellent academics,and many honorable graduates—you could have expanded on Alan Page—you gave Father Joyce only two pages for all of his work thru the years—but you chose to go the People magazine route and drag the dirty laundry onto the campus in full view of Our Lady standing high on the Golden Dome. Shame on you and your short sighted editors for lowering yourself to publish 22 pages of what we can all read about in other rags—we do not want it in our homes in the form of the Notre Dame Magazine.
Your next copy will be perused for content before I pass the garbage can on my way in from the mailbox!
I couldn't help but empathize with Christopher Temple Davis '83 as I read his article "All the Way Home" in the summer 2004 Notre Dame Magazine. It seems like ancient history since I came out of the closet in 1979, four years after graduating from Notre Dame. It was a tumultuous period in my life when nearly all of my relationships survived intact except many of those with my Notre Dame family. The "wound is reopened" every time Notre Dame Magazine arrives in the mail. I also have two sons but would not, however, support their decision to go to an institution like Notre Dame, which because of its affiliation with the Catholic Church, continues to not take the "correct" stand on this prejudicial issue.
David B. Erba '75
I find it hard to criticize Notre Dame Magazine after years of proudly reading and sharing its content with my seven children and 10 grandchildren. Now I have a Volume 33 (summer 2004) that I cannot even leave out in view at my home!
Catholic teaching has always been centered on "free will". The very concept of justice is based on it. Now you come up with the "sexual orientation" wording (the devil made me do it). With such a concept, there is no personal responsibility for avoiding sin. Our Lady must be saddened to see this published in the name of Her University.
My University—Your University—must encourage Catholic principals. To fail to do your part saddens me. I'll hide this summer issue in the trash, hoping nobody picks it up at the landfill.
Harlan P. O'Connor '49
The article "What the Church Has to Say" by John Monczunski is absolutely fantastic. It hits the nail right on the head.
1.0 Homosexual "orientation" is not a sin.
2.0 Homosexual "activity" is a sin.
3.0 Homosexual Marriages or Civil Unions are immoral and a detriment to society.
4.0 Adopting children into those marriages or unions is gravely immoral and puts those children at risk.
Why is there so much argument and discussion on this subject? The Church has spoken quite clearly.
Edward D. DeBoer '53
Signal Mountain, Tennessee
Imagine a world where sexual orientation would be as insignificant as eye color. Imagine a world where all loving relationships would be valued and affirmed. Imagine how ridiculous all this Catholic angst would appear in such a world.
Robert F. Dailey '74
At last, I can reclaim my ND alumnaeship! I was ashamed of my alma mater because of its homophobic stance. Now there seems hope! Congratulations to all those who are taking the ball and running with it.
S. Dorothy Eggering, SSND, '68
I am deeply saddened by the fact that Notre Dame Magazine, which you lead, has chosen to betray 2,000 years of Catholic teaching by endorsing homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle.
In order for a person or institution to authentically be called "Catholic," he, she or it must obey the decrees of the Pope. We have no individual discretion in interpreting the Bible, and we can not create our own morality. In no uncertain terms, the Church has never wavered from its stance that homosexuality is a "gravely disordered condition," as is the desire to commit rape or bestiality.
Homosexuals must be shown compassion and love, but only in an effort to help them overcome their temptation to sin. It is my view that your recent summer edition actually encourages homosexuals to act on their temptations by presenting homosexuality as just another lifestyle choice that must be welcomed at Notre Dame.
As a Catholic who wishes to see my University remain Catholic, I must discontinue my subscription to your magazine. Failure to do so would signal implicit support for the magazine's heretical agenda. Additionally, I will be sending out mass emails to encourage other loyal Catholic alums to do the same, in addition to withholding financial assistance from the University. Until this magazine and this University returns to true Catholicism, we will remain firm in our outspoken opposition.
I am severely disappointed by your lack of leadership on this issue. And I hope you will consider what I have said and make serious changes to Notre Dame Magazine.
Brendan C. Dwyer, '04
As the mother of a gay son, I want to thank you for addressing "The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name." I most especially appreciated Thomas Nelson's personal account as a parent who learned invaluable truths as well as questions about life and God from his gay son.
No doubt you will be vilified for featuring this aspect of human life—there is much latent fear with ancient primitive origins (as expressed in scripture) around this form and/or physical expression of sexuality, and the fear boils over into hate and violence. The violence can be verbal, psychological, political, physical—all of which exact a terrible human cost.
I suppose that, since Notre Dame is a Catholic University, "the Church's" so-called moral stance must be featured in your magazine. But frankly, the Church, i.e., the institutional Church, has blood on its hands for its promulgation of homophobic attitudes and policies. It has forgotten that each human being is created in the image of God. Who are we humans to dictate what that Divine image is? The language that issues from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith regarding the homosexual population is horrific and is responsible for terrible harms wreaked on this population and all of us who love them.
As to the University's refusal to officially recognize a gay-lesbian organization, I find it ironic that at the same time, the University not only recognizes but sanctions on its campus an organization specializing in legalized killing, namely ROTC.
Ah, do the University's policies emanate from the Beatitudes anymore? Or only when it's convenient and/or politic?
Congratulations—no, never mind, scratch that. Thank you. Well, that's not quite right either. Finally. That may be the best term I can use.
My mom told me that I'd be interested in the summer issue (I am one of the unfortunate folks whose copy was lost in the mail). She didn't even tell me the central theme, just that it was something along the lines of "a love that dare not speak its name." I knew right away that there would be at least one article addressing the topic of gay, lesbian and bisexual life at Notre Dame.
I write "finally" for many reasons. First, as a student at Notre Dame in the early '90s, I always wondered why so few of my classmates and friends were openly homosexual. After only a few short months of my freshman year, I quickly realized that our campus was not just quiet about gay & lesbian students, it was downright hostile. From the administration to dorm life, the time wasn't right to be "out" for many students. In fact, I met a student during my sophomore year who made the decision to leave Notre Dame for another Catholic university because he knew that he would be more welcome.
In the spring of 1995, a large contingent of undergrad and graduate students protested and rallied for the GLBT community at Notre Dame (thank you, Sister Mary Louise, for acknowledging the many years of struggle in your interview). In the 1995 graduation weekend issue of the _Observer_, there was a full-page ad supporting GLBT students and challenging the administration. Of the hundreds of people who signed the ad, my mom found my name. I think she was never prouder of me. At the time, I thought it was pointless, since all of us would soon graduate and move across the nation and world, unable to push the issue further. Finally, it looks as if the foundation laid by generations of students, faculty & friends has finally paid off.
Finally, I can speak openly with my co-workers about where I went to college. I work at an AIDS service organization in Chicago, where GLBT life is the norm, not the exception. Finally, I can speak with pride of ND with my relatives, whose members include many homosexual men and women. Finally, I can tell put a copy of _Notre Dame Magazine_ on my coffee table without my spouse challenging me. Finally, I may make my first financial contribution to my alma mater, after nearly 10 years of using this issue as my excuse.
Matt Towey '95
Just when I thought ND Magazine had lost its edge, finally it confronts a real issue.
Notre Dame graduates need to spend more time dealing with complicated social issues in our world and less time worrying about the state of our football team.
Paul Czarnecki '89
Ron Belgau is to be commended for his courage in writing such a deeply honest testimonial, both revealing his personal struggle and search for the truth. He is correct in identifying that a crisis of obedience underlies the problem of sexual sin, whether it be heterosexual or homosexual. Out of all of the writers in your feature articles, he is the only one who seemed genuinely concerned with doing God's will.
The world has much to say about sexuality, but much of it is opposed to the Catholic understanding of the human person. Our Holy Father has written so eloquently and copiously on this subject, yet our American Church has failed to engage in a serious dialogue with him. As Christians, we have completely abandoned the sense of sin and acknowledgement of our fallen nature. It seems to be common sense that just because we have certain feelings does not mean that we act upon every one. For instance, a thief could not defend himself by saying he robbed a bank because he had a desire for money upon which he had to act. Then, why do we treat sexual desires so differently?
Many of us have a knee jerk reaction to the the Church's teachings on same-sex attraction, finding them to be oppressive and unrealistic. This is true if you look at it from the world's perspective, but not from God's. We are richly blessed in the Catholic Church; Christ has given us so many desperately needed gifts. He had made us for Himself and wants nothing less than to share His divine life. Through the gifts of prayer, the sacraments and His Word, Christ has given the grace necessary to sustain us in following Him, even in a world that increasingly rejects Him and his teachings. Our acts of obedience will always require some sacrifice of our personal desires. When we contemplate Christ's ultimate act of obedience, dying on the cross for our sins, our small sacrifices appear to be mere trifles.
Belgau's insight speaks to all of us, regardless of what our sinful inclinations may be. This is not about rigidity or rules, but acts of love. Christ told us that we cannot love both God and mammon. Each of us has to identify what mammon seeks to supplant, our love of God. We cannot outdo Christ in love. For every sacrifice made in His name, He repays it tenfold. I pray that those who struggle with same sex attraction may find the peace and joy that the world cannot give.
Amy Dickas '90
God expects us to love all and we try. God expects us to hold sacred the gift of creating life and we do not even try. The balance of the articles were long on love and short on the sanctity of life.
As Catholics we can not pick and choose among commandments and traditions. We have signed up for the whole package. To suggest that all we need is love and support ignores the other part of the equation where the sexual act remains completely open to the gift of life which is the ultimate expression of love.
This makes me believe that this was not a debate but a position paper on why it is ok to be a non-chaste homosexual or even a non-chaste heterosexual outside of marriage.
We know that outside of the Catholic Church that this is a norm in our society. The Catholic Church remains one of the few holdouts.
Is there a reason for this? Let's hope so.
Brian Enright' 84
I feel deep sympathy for those who suffer from a homosexual orientation. I cannot subscribe, however, to a magazine that purports to be Catholic while suggesting that it is proper to engage in homosexual acts. I support the Church's teaching on homosexuality. Please cancel my subscription to your magazine.
Meg Diamond Enright '84
Thank you for the latest ND Magazine issue. I have been thinking about reacting online for a while, and I finally got the courage to do so today. I want to thank you for devoting an entire issue to something that affects me daily. I am a gay ND alum, and I was very pleased to see that you finally included stories from gay people who wrote about their own experiences, not to mention the story of the father with the gay son. I am often discouraged when the topic of homosexuality is debated by non-gay people. I often wonder how people would react if issues involving race were only discussed and decided by members of one race.
I would like to tell the straight people who may be reading this that there are many gay people in our country who do not necessarily embrace all aspects of the so-called gay lifestyle, and that many of us are invisible to your eyes. You pass us everyday in the grocery store and the malls. We just want what most straight people want.
I would also like to comment upon some people's obsession with keeping all gay people celibate. I would understand this better if I saw the same consistent urgency and emphasis on celibacy placed upon adult, unmarried, straight people as well. I'd just like to see some consistency.
Lastly, I want to emphasize that I was born gay, and God created me this way. I used to blame all of my problems on my sexuality for years. Little by little I am learning that we all have problems, and my sexuality may make my life more troublesome at times, but it is not the root cause for all of my problems. My hope is that the young will come to realize this as well. I want to say thank you, too, to all my ND friends who I have come out to and who have given me so much support over the years. Sometimes it is overwhelming how wonderful ND friends can be.
Jeremy Mayernik '92
Finally, some diversity in an otherwise secular, mundane and pandering magazine. This is the first issue I actually read cover to cover. Some of the other online comments prove that the hate, prejudice and disdain that gay people face every day is real. I find it unfortunate that these comments come from supposedly well-educated Christian alum. Gay students have always been and always will be a part of the ND community. Not acknowledging them will not make them go away. This issue should have been published 20 years ago.
Mark Bomber '86
I am neither homophobe, Republican nor conservative (thereby disqualifying myself from your definition of unworthy) but must object to the Summer 2004 issue of _Notre Dame Magazine_. It was, in my view, an exercise in overkill in presenting a highly sympathetic view of homosexuality.
In the opening op-ed you admit to overstepping the previously agreed to bounds by a previous administration for publication by soliciting gay and lesbian alumni to write articles about their homosexual experiences. I presume that means that either 1) the current administration has changed those boundaries, or 2) you have decided to arbitrarily ignore those boundaries in putting together this issue.
I find either disturbing because, for good or bad, this publication represents to many alumni and other interested publics the culture and values of the University of Notre Dame.
The impression that these articles gave was that Notre Dame not only tolerates homosexuality (over which it has little choice) but welcomes, even facilitates such behavior (over which it does have a choice), despite its direct conflict with Catholic doctrine. We may exchange ideas, thoughts, beliefs and personal experiences until Hell freezes over, but what is morally right or morally wrong is not just a matter of individual conscience.
I used to pass on my copy of _Notre Dame Magazine_ to young men and women who were incoming freshmen, so they could learn more of the tradition, culture and values of the place that would shape them in the years ahead. No longer, as I believe your publication increasingly represents a narrowly secular, socialistic and, now, agnostic point of view.
If that indeed reflects the current administration's point of view, it will have failed to live up to the ideals of a great Catholic (note the large C) university and will have betrayed its trust to both students and alumni.
Michael N. Cantwell '58
Thank you and the authors for the articles, so well written. After a slow read, I sat alone a long time and gratefully recalled the Church's teaching on conscience from Vatican II:
"Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment. . . . For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God. . . . His conscience is man's most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths." (As quoted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1776.)
It should be required that all priests and bishops, archbishops, cardinals and popes, who exercise the prophetic office, also regularly hear confessions, and equally exercise the pastoral office. The confessional stretches the confessor between the tensions of the teaching office and the healing office, between law and life, between despair and hope. It is the absolute best place for clerics to be confounded by the soul-depth good will of men and women branded sinners because they acknowledge that they cannot live humanly without human touch. It is the place where penitents have patiently taught me to listen and have relentlessly led me to my own humanity.
How blessed we are to be Catholic!
Michael A. Jamail '71
First let me say how thrilled I was to see that Notre Dame Magazine, which has never shied away from controversial topics, finally devoted an issue to "The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name" of homosexuality. I admire and applaud your courage in addressing this very timely and divisive issue.
In particular, I enjoyed reading the article by Christopher Temple Davis about his evolution as a gay person, committed partner and gay parent. Like Christopher, I am also a graduate of Notre Dame, same-sex partnered for over 22 years now, and the proud father of two adopted children in Isaiah (age 6) and Isabella (age 5). My partner Michael and I have belonged to the same parish in Louisville, Kentucky since 1987, and our children now attend Catholic school there.
It is high time gay Catholics (and all gay Christians) started standing up and reclaiming our religion. Most gay people in this country were raised by loving parents who instilled in their children certain religious beliefs. For generations gay Christians have been told not so subtly that if you "choose to live the gay lifestyle" you can't be a member of our club, and God will punish you severely in the end. The ironic thing is tha I had no choice in being gay (God made me that way) but I do have to make a conscious effort to "choose" to continue to be Catholic every day in the face of Church-sponsored hatred and discrimination.
The Notre Dame community needs to be made aware that there are kinds of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Catholics. Turn off the TV and get those old stereotypes out of your head, they don't apply any more now than they did 10 or 20 years ago.
Greg Bourke '82
First of all, I want to commend Notre Dame Magazine for its vision and integrity in taking on this subject. I was especially moved by "God Gave Me a Gay Son" and "All the Way Home". I can't imagine anyone from any viewpoint reading these, and not admiring their authors' honesty and forthrightness. And yet, when reading through the pieces, I was already imagining that certain alumni would likely lament that their alma mater would give space to voices that ignore or belittle church teaching, etc.
As a recent Notre Dame alum (MFA), and now Visiting Faculty Fellow, I couldn't help but feel the exact opposite: that the spiritual honesty and compassion and integrity that shines through most of these pieces embodies the spirit of Notre Dame at its best. It is the Notre Dame I have encountered among my students, and colleagues, and certain Holy Cross priests: a Notre Dame where compassion and acceptance reigns, where the most important words in scripture are: "Love one another as I have loved you." I am convinced that those who are open to the spirit and allow themselves to embark on journeys like Thomas A. Nelson's have done so by God's grace. And those who refuse to consider that possibility and echo sentiments like those of our local archbishop have yet to experience that grace.
Francisco Aragon '03MFA
Thank you for the summer 2004 issue. I hope it is the beginning of a new discussion of the role of homosexuals in the life of the university and the Church. For those concerned about the appropriateness of the topic for the pages of this magazine, I would argue that it is in fact the obligation of the nation's most prominent Catholic university to take up a subject that the U.S. bishops and numerous academics have seen fit to address. The truth is that many Americans and many Catholics understand homosexuality to be something different than the laundry list of sins and behaviors on which it is often (and I would claim erroneously) placed. Many of us have seen our family relationships and our spiritual lives improved by an honest awareness of our sexuality.
It is not a question of Notre Dame becoming more secular but of making sure that the debate includes those of us who love the university, struggle with our Catholicism, and happen to be gay.
Tom O'Brien '86
Overall you published a good series of essays. I particularly admire Tom Nelson for his relentless honesty and self examination.
It was painful to read of the ND administrations attempts to maintain an enlightened and compassionate stance on "gay" issues without violating RC orthodoxy. When I was an undergraduate "in loco parentis" and parietal hours were the big issues. Ah, such quaint and innocent times.
I fear that the RC Church hierarchy, at least during its current reactionary/conservative retrenchment is in danger of becoming intellectually and morally bankrupt.
I pray that Notre Dame will not follow.
Richard Kevin '68
Raleigh, North Carolina
I am thankful that Notre Dame Magazine has finally addressed the issue of homosexuality at Notre Dame and done so with compassion and depth.
From my own experience, I can say that Notre Dame can be very lonely place when you are different, especially when you are gay. At the same time, I have always loved Notre Dame, especially because it always pushed me to seek God; to seek truth. In the face of so many voices, including, at times, my own, that would have me judge myself and others, being gay has allowed me to find the truth of God's unconditional love and acceptance for all creation. I hope that this discussion will spark genuine contemplation and reflection. Once again, thank you for finally bringing this out of the closet.
Marc Echeveste '95
Finally. I would thank you, but your recent issue addressing (or should I say acknowledging the existence of) homosexuality is too long overdue.
The summer 2004 issue stated on the inside front cover: "Often these [referring to homosexual issues, among others] . . . come in shades of gray, defying black and white answers. Sometimes it's okay to explore the questions without arriving at absolute certainty." With a prologue like that, I wonder just who was the intended audience for the repulsive drivel that followed.
The line in the story about the representative of the office of student affairs on pg. 44 that
there is a real difference between homosexuality and performing homosexual acts will go down in history with "I didn't inhale." "Thoughts, words, and deeds" can be sinful. This issue compromised Notre Dame by persons who oppose the Church's absolutely certain teachings and gave them a platform from which to do it. What is it that the persons involved in this publication don't understand about the story of Sodom and Gomorrah? Certainly, its message was absolute. That reading from the July 25 liturgy tells us that Lot could not find a single person in Sodom to save it from God's wrath. There is no gray area on this teaching.
Would this magazine allow someone to urge its readers to suspend payment of its subscription price? If this magazine won't allow that, how is that it can allow Notre Dame to be used by these modern day sodomites?
Michael T. Schaefer, '67
Treatment had good range of experiences and views. Missing was testimony from a gay priest about the lavender subculture among priests, monks, nuns that has existed for centuries. Until this is brought into sunlight—hypocrisy and coverup will continue.
Chuck Conway '56
Palm Springs, California
Thank you for the package of articles on homosexuality in the summer issue. A group of us at the University of Memphis are starting a Safe Zone Ally Training Program and are tremendously encouraged by your sharing of stories and information. It is so exciting to see a prestigious school like Notre Dame lead the way in discussion and activism. Keep up the good work and believe in your efforts . . . as a Catholic in a secular, state-funded school environment, it's heartening to me to be able find similarities in our struggles to foster social justice and compassion for an invisible population, too long ignored. Thank you again for your courage. As the song goes, "we're in this world together."
Thanks! It makes me proud that the Notre Dame Magazine took the lead and presented the human side of the gay/lesbian situation. Hopefully it will lead to a wider understanding and appreciation among the older (and maybe some not so old) alumni. I suspect that it is a non-situation among the younger alumni or at least I hope so. Being somewhat old-fashioned with basic conservative principles that form and guide my, what the popular media would say, are "wildly radical liberal ideas," I find that the orange T-shirts say it all. Who am I to differ with "GAY? Fine by me." if God, in his wisdom, created humans that span the spectrum of sexual feelings.
K. Edward Alexander '56
Newton Centre, Massachusetts
The parallels between Tom and Mark Nelson's experience and my own are at first eerily familiar, but in reality, it is probably typical for many gay individuals and their parents.
First, it seems ironic that my father (who I'm outing as a parent of a gay son by writing this response) and Tom graduated in the same year at Notre Dame and neither could have ever imagined the remotest possibility of raising a gay son. Like Mark, I felt certain it would be best if friends and family didn't know. It would simply be easier for them, although tortuous for us.
Second, when confronted with the "are you gay?" question, Mark's response of "I don't want to talk about it" was verbatim identical to mine. The sad part was that I desperately wanted to talk about it. The burden of the secret is truly enormous.
The feeling of being "in this alone" or the only one going through a coming out process is very alienating and often times both parents and their sons and daughters don't know where to locate others who are going through the same thing. Luckily, there are organizations in virtually all communities that can be helpful such as PFLAG, which Mr. Nelson mentions.
I am happy for Mark that Tom has embraced him fully and that Tom has grown by having a gay son. I assume Mark has grown as well by having his father accept him fully. As more and more people come to know their gay sons, daughters, cousins, co-workers, neighbors etc, stereotypes will continue to break down and homosexuality as an issue will become less polarizing. After all, acceptance for who God made us is ultimately what we seek.
Paul Costigan '91
St. Louis, Missouri
I always wanted to attend Notre Dame, the pre-eminent Catholic University in America. But I was concerned to read some of the articles in the on-line _Notre Dame Magazine_ that seemed to countenance the position that homosexual acts were somehow moral in the context of a loving relationship. I did see an article that promulgated the Catholic church's teaching on the subject, but the inclusion of some of the other articles gave a certain ambiguity to your treatment of the subject. It does not seem appropriate to publish articles that imply that homosexual acts may be a good thing. There are plenty of outlets that teach error on the subject already. It should be noted that they are mortal sins that kill the supernatural life of the soul. Let us not confuse anyone on the subject. Immortal souls are at stake. Or does Notre Dame no longer believe in eternal salvation? True love for the sinner (and not the sin) requires that we always teach the truth on this subject.
This subject is not as complex as some, including the Prince of Darkness, would have us believe. And by the way, I attended another Catholic college that wasn't as ambiguous in its presentation of Truth.
I want to congratulate you on an excellent set of articles on homosexuality. I thought the article on "What the Church Has to Say" was rather weak. Once you hold that it is not wrong to be a homosexual , it does not make much sense to say that all sexual acts of a homosexual nature are wrong. It would seem more reasonable to ask when are sexual acts, whether heterosexual or homosexual, wrong. There does seem to be a circularity in the reasoning. All homosexual acts are wrong because all sexual acts outside of marriage are wrong. But to know that all acts outside of marriage are wrong, not a position clearly taught in the BIble, one would have to show that pre-marital and extramarital sexual acts, masturbation and homosexual acts are always wrong. No case seems to be presented to establish the immorality of all such acts. Further it is claimed without sufficient empirical data that homsexual unions, whether labeled 'marriages" or not, would cause moral harm to society and to the institution of marriage. Perhaps, but it is not obviously the case. If one is genetically determined to be homosexual, how can the inclination be "objectively disordered" since this is the way the person was created by God?
I am not homosexual and have no personal ax to grind. I celebrate my 43rd wedding anniversary in August.
Edward King '65 Ph.D.
University of Windsor
In memory of my husband, Jack Wiggins,'43, I commend you on your courageous (unfortunate that such journalism needs courage to be written) edition on homosexuality. Jack was alarmed at the extreme conservative bent of some of the thinking of fellow ND graduates. His view, and mine, is that we are all one in our humanity and that division creates roadblocks in our mutual effort to live our common lives as generously and lovingly as we imperfect creatures can. Keep on promoting the true spirit of Notre Dame.
With regard to the summer issue of the Notre Dane Magazine — My heart goes out to the father with a homosexual son,of course you should not abandon your son. I have a lot of sympathy for homosexuals and lesbians who are trying to lead a chaste life as I do for alcoholics and drug addicts who want or are trying to quit. Jesus said little about sex, except "Neither will I condemn you, go and sin no more", "He that divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery" and "He that lusts for a woman has committed adultery in his own heart" . Instead, He concentrated on love, compassion, forgiveness ,kindness and helping the poor and afflicted. He said nothing about homosexuality except reference to Sodom and Gomorrha, possibly because His audience did not question the sinfulness of homosexual acts. I was also impressed with the innate goodness of the authors. I do not think that homosexuals should be persecuted or abused.
Having said all of this: Have we lost our collective minds!! The homosexual life style should not be encouraged, which is the net effect of this issue!! Homosexual activity has been the primary cause in spreading AIDS in this country, resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths. Homosexual priests have done immeasurable damage to the church and have undoubtly caused the loss of innumerable souls. Anal sex and sodomy have no redeeming social values!! The church's position is correct."Love the sinner, hate the sin". Being an homosexual is not a sin but homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and are sins. I don't know where Mr. Monczunski dug up the Vatican document that said "—circumstances may exist—that would—remove the culpability of the individual—." If this were the case, pedophiles would not be culpable. I doubt that it is church doctrine.
On reading the stories by homosexual and lesbian authors, it does not seem that they had an irresistible drive to have sex with the same sex. They liked and were attracted to people of the same sex. Well okay, but they don't have to have sex with them. Hetrosexual people have temptations too, but they are expected to resist them and avoid occassions of sin. People do give into temptations, but at least don't try to argue that it is not a sin and is okay. The T-shirts worn by 2000 at Notre Dame saying "Gay?, Fine by me"is essentially saying "Homosexual acts are fine with me" else there would be no point to them. Suppose one wore a T-shirt saying " Practicing drug addict? Fine with me"? A homosexual living chastely with a partner is not reasonable. It is like an alcoholic running a bar. Also not marrying and living a celibate life should not be assumed to be impossible as most priests' lives prove to the contrary.
When I went to Notre Dame (1946, 1948 to 1951) I loved the place. It was not perfect, but I considered it to be the closest thing to Camelot that I will ever see.I am disappointed with the present Notre Dame, it appears to me that Notre Dame has not been in the forefront of defending the Faith on the major articles of faith on abortion, divorce, contraception and homosexuality that are being attacked today. If people lived in accord with these doctrines, our country would not have most of the problems it has today. It seems to me that Notre Dame may be selling its soul for political correctness and membership in the "elite" school club. This is the reason that schools such as the Ave Maria University are being founded. I know that there are many good people at Notre Dame. May Our Lady with the help of Father Jenkins reclaim her school.
Arnold Anderjaska '51
I'm a senior at Scripps Women's College in Los Angeles, California. I'm working in Connecticut and staying with a graduate of Notre Dame (his two sons, I believe, attended Notre Dame as well). Your summer 2004 edition recently arrived and has been sitting on the kitchen table for a several days. When I sat down to read a bit over lunch, I was thrilled to see that you had chosen to highlight the queer community in such a special way. I, myself, am not queer. However, many of my classmates and friend are. I know how much it means to them that Scripps supports them and takes steps to educate the Claremont Colleges community.
I can only imagine what the most recent edition of your magazine means to the queer community of Notre Dame. Not only are the stories interesting, but they cover a variety of perspectives and experiences, which is not only good for the queer community, but will help to encourage the straight community to become more accepting and tolerant through the insight you've provided in your magazine. This is most admirable, especially in a Catholic institution. Kudos to you and keep up the good work!
Times are changing and I think it's great that Notre Dame Magazine has illustrated this. To read about other members of the Notre Dame family who have shared similar fears and joys related to being gay further makes me wonder why I did not come out to more friends while an undergrad at ND. I think the articles in this recent issue enlighten the reader with sincere and heartfelt emotions from their authors from different viewpoints. There is now sensitivity training in the dorms related to homosexuality and more students engaged in the student support group. Then, to read about the continued recognition and support by the student body for the gays and lesbians on campus makes me glad that pathways are being opened to current and future GLBT students to feel accepted on campus. Seeing the support from straight allies wearing the "Gay? Fine by me" T-shirts instills in me pride for my alma mater that so many straight allies abound on campus. I think understanding of the GLBT community can only get better when open discussion is held.
These articles about the father of a son who is gay, two men sharing with their loved ones their commitment to one another, and the student who is bisexual portray that the lives of the GLBT community contain issues that can and are found in all walks of life. I am proud that _Notre Dame Magazine_ has chosen to bring the lives of these individuals to life. One reason: mature opinions are hard to form when based solely on rumors, stereotypes, or, nowadays, characters on television. I''ve found that those people with whom I have shared my sexual orientation are appreciative that I cared and trusted them enough to share this part of my life with them.
A wise priest on campus once said told me when I finally admitted to myself that I was gay that God made me. God is perfect. He doesn't make mistakes. Therefore, if God made me then I am not a mistake. I stand by those words to this day. And when I am attending Mass on Sunday morning, I find myself thanking God for making me who I am. And who I am is all God wants me to be.
I hope Notre Dame Magazine has more editions that address controversial issues so that, like the issue on homosexuality, voices that would normally be suppressed are heard. Yes, the opinions on issues such as homosexuality may diverge from Catholic teaching but are, nonetheless, issues of the modern world that need to be approached.
Jeffrey Fersch '98
Thanks for including in the package a rundown of church teaching on homosexuality and the perspective of Courage members striving to live the chastity to which we are all called, gay or straight.
I was particularly interested in the piece by Thomas A. Nelson. I too have dealt with a loved one's struggles with same sex attraction. What I found when doing psychological and sociological research, however, was quite different. Please consider:
- Dr. Robert Spitzer, the Columbia University psychologist who in October, 2003, published a pivotal study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior demonstrating that therapy can cure homosexuality, especially among highly motivated patients. Dr. Spitzer's work is especially significant since he played a key role in the highly politicized decision in 1973 to remove homosexuality from the psychiatric manual of mental disorders.
- Stanley Kurtz, the Hoover Institution sociologist who has documented the connection between "gay marriage" and the decline of the family in Scandinavia and Holland. Kurtz demonstrates that when a culture redefines marriage to include gay unions, the unity of marriage and child-raising dissolves. Children increasingly are raised by couples who never marry and therefore separate more frequently, with predictable damage done to the children.
- Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, founder of the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (www.narth.org. In the recent book A Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality, Dr. Nicolosi and his wife, Linda Aimes Nicolosi, explain the connection between "gender identification disorder" in pre-pubescent children and later homosexuality. They inform parents what they can do if, for instance, a son exhibits "sissy boy" tendencies that could predict future same-sex attraction.
- Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons of the Catholic Medical Association. This renowned psychiatrist has been the main voice promoting "Homosexuality and Hope," a brief but thorough analysis of the causes of same-sex attraction and what can be done to treat it. You can find it online at cathmed.org.
If any place in our society is going to hold a fair and honest debate about homosexuality, it must be a Catholic institution like Notre Dame, where faith and reason come together in the unity of truth. For people like my loved ones (and Mr. Nelson's son), we can do no less.
James R. Dunlap, Jr. '84
In the summer 2004 edition you published a collection of essays on the subject of homosexuality. In your introduction you said "we believe it is the kind of treatment readers would expect from a faith-filled and intellectually vigorous Catholic university."
I have my doubts about this. Your essay on the Church's teaching is very clear . But then you permit several people to make their plea for acceptance of their active [sinful] homosexuality. The teaching of the Church seems to be just another opinion that is "vigorous intellectual activity."
St. Paul was one of the most vigorous intellectuals in the history of the Church.I cannot imagine St. Paul ever publishing a collection such as you have. When he heard of sinful immorality he was quick to identify and condemn it."It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and of a kind that is not found even among the pagans. for a man is living with his father's wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you." I Cor.5:1-2.
You quote the late Archbishop Sheen in the article on the Church's reaching to show that you do not have to hate the sinner to hate his sin, which is carrying him to eternal perdition.
I live in Japan where in 1973 the Blessed Mother appeared to a Japanese nun to give her messages meant for the whole world, similar to the messages she gave at Fatima. In one she said that if the Father sends a terrible punishment on mankind because opf its deep sinfulness the good will have to suffer with the bad. Didn't Abraham gain a promise from God that He would spare even Gomorrah if he found just 10 innocent persons there? She gives the reason. It is because the good have not done the penance they are asked to do in order to obtain the conversion and salvation of the sinners. They have not prayed, fasted, or given alms as asked. But also have failed in the charity of correcting the sinner. This is a prime spiritual work of mercy. Not to do so is ,in effect, to leave the sinner in his sin and to "hate" him.
Here is where I think you fail. I think it is the Pauline Vigor that you should find in a "faith filled vigorous Catholic university."
Paul says further in II Cor 13:2:"I warned those who sinned before and all the others, and I warn them now while absent, as I did when present on my second visit, that if I come again I will not spare them".Paul is the "faith filled intellectual".Your type of collection could be found in the publications of several secular universities who make the perennial claim that they are seeking the truth. And in the meantime the Ancient Serpent laughs.
Fr. Bede Fitzpatrick OFM, '43
Lets worry about the children, for they have much to worry about. First they must worry about getting killed before they are even born. Next they must worry about their mother being married to their father and then they must worry about their mother staying married to their father. Finally they must worry about who will take care of them when their mother goes off to work. Now all the homosexuals that I know are doing a very good job of taking care of themselves and don't need ND Magazine worrying about them. If you are running out of things to worry about, just let me know because I am sure I can keep you busy.
Tom Wich '63
I am grateful for the several fine articles addressing the challenges and experiences of gay and lesbian people who have been and are part of the Notre Dame University community. In working as Resource Director for the National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministries (www.nacdlgm.org) I often hear from gay and lesbian people, their parents and family seeking supportive communities of understanding and welcome. We are most faithful to the gospel when we see "others" beyond labels and judgments as God's beloved.
Father Jim Schexnayder
Walnut Creek, California
We are very pleased and grateful to see Notre Dame Magazine dedicate its Summer 2004 issue to a sensitive and courageous discussion of homosexuality from various perspectives. There are many misperceptions about the gay community today, often because people do not know much about it. You have done a great service to many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) members of the Notre Dame and Saint Mary's community.
We are the officers of the Gay and Lesbian Alumni/ae of the University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary's College (GALA), and organization that has been serving GLBT alumni/ae since its formation in 1993. GALA strives to promote solidarity and friendship among GLBT graduates, students and friends of the University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary's College; provide support to OUTReach ND, the GLBT student group on campus; sponsor charitable, educational, social and spiritual activities which further the interests of the GLBT members of the ND/SMC community; improve communication with University and College officials; and increase the visibility GLBT alumni/ae at Notre Dame, Saint Mary's and nationwide. We currently have a membership of nearly 1,000 ND/SMC alumni/ae and anticipate that there are several thousand additional GLBT graduates who are not yet in contact with us or do not yet know that we exist.
It is our great hope that gay or questioning alumni/ae may see this letter and know that there us a resource for them to contact within the greater Notre Dame community. GALA has regional leaders throughout the country who would be delighted to speak confidentially with them. Locally, GALA sponsors various social, charitable and educational events, including our own version of "Universal Notre Dame Night" every spring. On campus, we host an annual tailgater in tandem with OUTReach ND and sponsor the annual Notre Dame Queer Film Festival.
Coming to terms with being gay is often a very difficult process, both for students and for alumni/ae. Nearly one-third of suicide attempts in young adults today are due to sexual orientation issues and the needless fear and shame often associated with them. Without support and affirmation among peers, as adults these issues can turn into equally life-threatening conditions such as depression, nervous disorders and substance abuse. We are proud to offer a source of support for these individuals, coordinating closely with OUTReach ND. We encourage gay or questioning alumni/ae to visit our website (www.galandsmc.org) or contact GALA directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. On our website you will find contact information for the regional leaders throughout the United States and internationally, as well as information on how to join GALA.
Once again, please accept our thanks and gratitude for the magazine's insightful and helpful issue.
Gus Hinojosa '82, chair
David Pais '72, vice chair
Kevin Heffernan '93, secretary
Gay and Lesbian Alumni/ae of the University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary's College
When can we expect to hear from pederasts, practitioners of incest, pornographers and serial murderers? After all, they can't help their orientation, and we must be understanding, even compassionate, must we not?
Pardon me, while I vomit.
Spouse of 1957 ND graduate
Special thanks for your series of stories in the summer ND Magazine. It came on a very poignant day for me. One year ago on an equally beautiful Saturday my youngest son sat on my porch to tell me that he "liked boys."
These articles helped me reflect on this last year. A year of great growth for all of us while remaining the same.
That afternoon last year my heart went out to him. He had spent a long process of trying to understand himself. My first thought was how others would now judge him. And I have seen that reflected in some of the comments in this section. Some people are able to live in an absolute world.
My son's statement that day was that he is still the same person. Twenty-five years of knowing him, and I was surprised. This is not the struggle I want for him. However, to live a false life would be worse.
My son's good fortune is being from a supportive family. Many of us have gay and lesbian friends. But this was not easy for each of us. There was much reflection during the following months. We never considered ourselves having any bias. But it was still different.
I was able to talk to a gay couple who are close friends. They simply said that "it is what it is." These very spiritual and religious friends made me not worry about what I had done "wrong."
As so many others have said, I am grateful that ND has finally brought up this "hot topic." It has always been present and not addressed. As your opening statement reflected, there are many questions and attitudes that spring forward.
As a mother, I just want the same thing for each of my four children. I know that they are each made in God's image. That really hasn't changed in the last year.
Margaret Roberts Richards ('69 SMC)
My natural inclination is to have sex with every woman that I encounter. And because I was born a heterosexual, it can't be wrong. So being true to my God-created natural inclination, I will have sex with as many women as I want. And don't you dare judge me!
You wouldn't buy this line of reasoning from a heterosexual, would you? So why would anybody buy it from a homosexual person? Any way you slice it, wrong is wrong. Note to fellow alumni: The Catholic church does not require you to pretend that wrong is right to make someone feel good about himself. Resist those who want you to abandon what you know to be true. Yes, I believe that homosexuality is an intrinsic moral disorder. Having said that, I think that we're all morally disordered. Jesus commands us to "go and sin no more"—a standard applied equally to gay and straight alike. I feel great compassion for the struggle of homosexual persons, but I won't abide their sins, nor will I ask that they abide mine. We've only got one shot to get this right.
Bob Kruse ' 78
Congratulations to Notre Dame Magazine for its thoughtful, provocative and overdue coverage about homosexuality. My non-alumni parents and siblings have long admired the magazine, but this issue was by far the most passed around and discussed. As a Notre Dame alumnus who happens to be gay, I read it with about the same interest as they did—which anecdotally tells me you were right to dedicate much of the last issue to this sometimes vexing topic. Don't let a few reactionaries (no matter how influential or well-heeled) stop you from exploring the issues that challenge my alma mater, the Church and society.
Michael J. Brogioli '86
In late 1975, at all of 16, I submitted my application to ND. I was accepted and entered as a freshman in 1976. Neither as an applicant nor as a 17-year-old freshman did I really know what it meant to be a gay. I came to that realization only after joining the ND family. Like me, most other gay students at ND/SMC become Domers well before realizing that we are also gay. Which is why the struggle to make the ND experience less painful for these members of our family is so important (and justified).
In the late '70s we had the Gay Students of Notre Dame (GSND), a support group that met at the Bulla Shed Campus Ministry building and operated a hotline out of LaFortune. Though not heavily involved in campus advocacy, our presence became a threat to the administration, which swiftly disbanded GSND.
This lack of support made my coming out process a very painful one. I sought "counseling" at the infirmary in an attempt to "cure myself." I prayed and lit candles at the Grotto with deepest faith. Following the advice of campus "professionals" and well-intended classmates, I attempted to "find the right girl."
My "Journey of Pain" through five years at ND/architecture was not marked by hate or rejection from fellow students or faculty. It was the institutional attitudes I encountered and the directions they attempted to push me in, that ensured that pain become the only outcome of my good-faith efforts. I had to fight (at such a ripe age!) the messages that I had a "terrible mental defect" and that I was "alienated from my God." A very "right girl" ended up caught in this web of pain.
I will never recover the time wasted in my sincere efforts to heed Church and University teachings and counsel. Unbiased therapy helped me overcome the feeling of inadequacy ND instilled in me. My transition to Episcopalian helped me see that my God had never forsaken me. As an adult, I developed the strength and maturity to face my challenges. However, as a teenager leaving home for the first time to go to ND, I deserved something better from my ND family.
Efforts to make ND more supportive and understanding of ALL in its family fulfill ND's Christian mandate, especially towards ALL the teenagers placed in its temporary care. ND may not be able to take away the pain of coming out, but surely there is no need for ND to add to it. For the love of Christ!
Carlos A. Carrero '81
Having read the articles in the recent edition of Notre Dame Magazine, I found them well written and insightful. It is definitely a reality in today's society, and something that should be addressed.
One of the basic tenants of our faith is that we all sin, and we all fall short of the grace of God, and we all need to seek forgiveness. No man and no woman is perfect. We all have our shortcomings that we deal with on a daily basis. We all have our cross to bear. I have known several homosexuals in my short life, and even have some in my close group of friends. They are smart, caring, compassionate individuals who are all God's creations, and they are all blessings in our lives.
I often find myself wondering about what God and our Church teach, and how to reconcile it with my life. I believe there is one message from sacred scripture that should be considered. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.
I'm a sinful human, as God created me, and I am not fit to judge. I''m not fit to judge my friends, both straight and gay, my family or total strangers.
I find it heartbreaking that so many people completely disregard what the Church teaches when it comes to morality and faith. Sex outside of marriage, as God defined it, is wrong and is a sin. God created each of us and he loves us all the same, homosexual or heterosexual. We are all called by Him to refrain from sex outside of marriage, whether it is homosexual or heterosexual. To some, this seems to be too much, but to those, I point to the litany of priests and nuns who serve our Lord and live a celibate lifestyle. Is celibacy impossible? No. Is it difficult and challenging? Of course. Being Catholic and following God wasn't meant to be easy, the early martyrs taught us that. We all have our crosses to bear. The best I can offer is my thoughts, prayers and support as we all seek to live as God called us. We must all work together to do God's will. But to attack the Church and its teachings is not the approach to take. Homosexuality is a sin, it's one of many that we all deal with on a daily basis. We live in a world where we are bombarded by sin, where temptations are around every corner. The solution is not to attack the Church, it''s teachings and it''s priests. We should work together to live as God called us, recognizing that we all sin and fall short of God''s grace.
Kevin McCarthy '99
I appreciate the discussion you evoke with this issue. It is through an open discussion of all the facet's of these issues that some, not all, will begin to understand that America is truly a melting pot: and not all the ingredients blend easily together! Nor are we required to like each other. However, we do have a common agreement, called the Constitution, which allows everyone to pursue happiness: and to be able to do so without fear of violence or bigotry.
The church has never been perfect; nor has it's adherents always understood each other.
But perhaps the grace of God can help us all to embrace our differences rather than use them as a rallying cry to kill each other?
What say you America?
John 'JJ' Ryan '90
Los Angeles, California
I had to chuckle at the indignation expressed by some students who believe it is just "alumni" and their quaint attitudes who are holding back the endorsement of an organization of gays and lesbians at ND.
When I was a student we likewise groused over: the banning of kegs in the dorms, parietals, single-sex dorms, and so on ad infinitum. After 20 years in the ranks of the Neanderthal alumni I thank God that the adults are still running the asylum. Get over yourselves, students. You are just passing through . . .
Elizabeth Spinelli Balmert '82
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 percent 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 pummelled by a good portion of the body of ND Alumni. A hint about that came from the revealing story a couple 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 of 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
Thank you, thank you, thank you for your courageous, insightful and beautifully written series of articles on homosexuality. My husband and I love ND with all our hearts and cherished our time there. But as a new mother day-dreaming about my child attending ND someday, I was saddened to realize that I hoped my daughter could find a university with more diversity, with greater acceptance for gay students, and with a more progressive attitude about contraception. I was heartbroken to realize that I thought my child would be better off attending a different school. This issue of your magazine—and Mr. Nelson's eloquent, moving article about his gay son, in particular—has allowed me to start day-dreaming happily about my child studying on South Quad, wearing "The Shirt" to her first football game, making the best friends of her life among her fellow Domers, and being challenged and inspired by ND's wonderful faculty. I am so proud, today, to be a Notre Dame graduate. Congratulations for opening the discussion and promoting acceptance.
Megan M. (Massucci) Griesbach '98
San Francisco, California
Bravo to the NDM for this thoughtful series of articles. Thomas Nelson's is simply amazing, while all of them are worth reading and re-reading. What strikes me though is that this discussion is happening in 2004. For me it took place in 1966-1970 when I was an ND student and later when I was a spokesperson for a gay student group in Virginia. These issues were long ago resolved for me and just about everyone I know. Being gay in the NY/CT area in 2004 is simpy NOT an issue. It's sad to me that it is still an issue at my beloved Notre Dame. (Note: to be exact, I am not an alum, but would have finished in 1970; my leaving had nothing to do with my being gay, though ND was hardly a welcoming place that's for sure.)
Thank you for your group of articles entitled, "The Love That Dare Note Speak Its Name." As usual Notre Dame Magazine has come through with some serious, reflective journalism to challenge its readers. I'm glad you're still in the education business.
I found the article "God Gave Me A Gay Son", particularly poignant and thought provoking and plan to assign it (with your permission) to my university class on "Theology and Sexuality." For over ten years I have been exploring the issue of homosexuality with college students, looking at both the teaching of theologians, psychologists and sociologists. The good news is that each year students are more accepting and more understanding of what it means to be gay. I suspect some of the reactors to these articles never read more than a few lines, for, if they had, I believe, they would never have been so hard-hearted.
Antonia S. Malone
Middletown, New Jersey
Though my grandfather was a Notre Dame law school graduate class of 1911, and the Rev. Peter Cooney, who served the school for many years and died there in 1905 was an ancestor, I've never been as interested in your publication until the edition on "The Love that Dare Not Speak Its Name."
When I left the faith after junior year in high school, and paid the price when my grandfather refused to fund a public school education—I came to understand what moral rigidity means and does—though not as a homosexual.
Given the findings of genetics, specifically the x and y chromosome—the stance of the church and Notre Dame are no different to me than what Galileo encountered after discovering the earth isn't flat.
The character of those who stand up for their truth in the matter is supposedly the purpose of such an education, and I take my hat off to them.
Daniel R. Foley III
New York, New York
Thank you for your coverage of the lives of gay domers. We are breathing, alive, and diverse people—not some fringe issue to be glossed over. Too many gays are giving up on their faith and self-destructing. The Church has the responsibility to minister to the needs of all people. Other Churches are starting to minister to our needs, perhaps one day the Catholic Church will follow the lead of the faithful salt of the earth.
L Matthew Blancett '02
Thank you for your sensitive and compassionate treatment of homosexuality in the summer issue. I regret to note, however, that almost 10 years after the question of amending the statement of non-discrimination was raised the administration has not changed its stance. Today, as it was then, the apparent reason is fear of legal consequences . This decision may be prudent, it is obviously cautious, but it is certainly neither courageous nor pastoral. The success of the "Gay? Fine By Me" T-shirts seems to confirm what a student activist on campus told me several years ago. There is a distinction, he argued, between "Notre Dame" and the "Notre Dame Administration." The former includes students, faculty and alumni who in substantial numbers have been supportive of their gay and lesbian compatriots.
Ted Weber, Jr '49
El Cerrito, California
Thomas Nelson (God gave me a gay son) makes several assumptions that are not based in fact and need to be challenged.
He claims homosexuality is "genetic in origin." There may be some genetic propensity that environmental experiences can help express, but science tells us there is no such thing as a "gay gene" as exists in popular perception.
The general professional consensus is "that it cannot be changed and that attempts to do so can be distinctly harmful." There are times when such a consensus is wrong(like the the best way to treat pedophiles). Not only have I personally seen people who have been successfully treated, there is a professional organization that can attest to this politically incorrect truth(check out www.narth.org).
Mr. Nelson claims the "best minds" agree that homosexuality is normal. Just as the "best" football team can be beaten on any given day, I submit that those minds are dead wrong on this issue. The normal reaction to anal sex is revulsion. This is the normal, healthy response. Perhaps people are confusing the concept of "normal" with "common."
Homosexuality has been, and likely will continue to be, a part of the human condition. But the same is true of alcoholism, kleptomania, and assorted other sexual perversions. Their very existence does not make them "normal."
Mr. Nelson blames his "solid" Roman Catholicism and "rigid moral convictions" for his son's suicide attempt.
Again, there is no scientific basis for this. Homosexuals are much more prone to depression than non-homosexuals, regardless of their religious background.
Homosexuals raised in non-religious homes have also suffered mental illness and committed suicide. This correlation with mental illness confirms the impression that homosexuality is "objectively disordered."
"Much of our Christian rhetoric is anything but Christian" complains Nelson.
Jesus instructed us to love one another, but He also told us to hate the sin while loving the sinner. It appears that Mr. Nelson, and many other modern day Christians, are embracing the sin and enabling the sinner.
Brian W Donnelly, M. D., '81
I just found out that the 2005 Princeton Review of the country's best colleges & universities ranks Notre Dame as the most anti-gay university in the country. Let's hope this terrific issue of the magazine helps to change this awful national recognition. Being #1 isn't always the best!!
Peter Nardi '69
The Notre Dame Magazine made a bold and crucially important statement in its summer 2004 edition. The articles on homosexuality helped advance a meaningful discussion at Notre Dame. The conversation about homosexuality must continue.
Publishing candid articles written by gay students and their families is a new frontier for the University of Notre Dame "family." The lack of dialogue about homosexuality has led to misinformation and left many harmful prejudices unchallenged.
During my four years at Notre Dame, I came to learn that discussing issues of diversity is precisely what a well-rounded education means. I served for years as a diversity educator, utilizing the power of LTR retreats, the MLK committee, and the _Observer_ Viewpoints. I witness firsthand the potential of diversity dialogue. This served as a personal stepping stone to my own coming out.
It was during my first year of graduate school when I finally found the environment and gained the self-awareness to fully embrace who I am. Like many gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered individuals, my road to self-discovery was long and painful. The irony of fighting so hard to bring dialogue to the Notre Dame campus was that I found little support for my own struggles with my sexuality.
I listened during my four years at Notre Dame to the stories of other students, whose painful experiences held vastly important life lessons. These lessons planted seeds of hope and often gave voice to the voiceless.
Gay students have something to say and must have a voice. Without a meaningful forum for gay students to create their own organization, an important Notre Dame minority group is not receiving the support that it needs. Allowing gay students to establish support networks is not inconsistent with Catholic doctrine but follows closely the fundamental principles of human rights.
Gay students must have their own forum to freely and independently discuss issues of discrimination, injustice, hopes, fears, and common bonds. Other minority groups receive this opportunity, and gay students deserve no less.
Dialogue about homosexuality must continue, and gay students at Notre Dame must not be left without a voice. I encourage the _ND Magazine_ and community to advance this important diversity dialogue and ensure that "well roundedness" stays a part of the Notre Dame education.
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in the moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at the times of challenge and controversy"—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
"We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon"—Franklin D. Roosevelt
"Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illumines it."—Dr. MLK, Jr.
Ken Seifert '99
Applause for recognizing homosexuality at Notre Dame. Boos for treating the subject according to Vatican norms. The accounts by the lesbian who tells about her feelings for women, the gay man who advocates chastity, and the gay couple who adopt children share a common feature: no sex. If that's what their lives are like, then how are they different from the heterosexuals who supposedly follow Vatican norms?
A couple years ago I saw this T-shirt on Castro Street in San Francisco: the front said: "No sex please . . . " and the back said: "I went to Notre Dame."
That's about the size of it.
John Zaugg '61
Palm Springs, California
I cannot help but note the delicious irony of this last issue. One one page we read of the Vatican's assertion that gay and lesbian parents are doing violence to their children. Yet on another page we read of the love of gay parents—Notre Dame alumni no less—for their children. Is there any more compelling refutation of this so-called Church teaching?
With this issue out, perhaps now the university's very own hierarchy can begin to address the ways in which the school's policies still harm students, faculty, staff and alumni who happen to be gay—sapping our full participation and inclusion within the Notre Dame family in ways that are meaningful to us.
Here are few suggestions:
•• Adopt a university-wide non-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation. No university the calibre of Notre Dame should ever want to discriminate on such a basis.
•• Officially allow a self-governing gay student group to exist and flourish. No university the caliber of Notre Dame has such a restriction, not even Georgetown University. Such a ban tells gay students that they are not worthy of trust. It does not allow them to develop their full leadership potential.
•• Include out gay and lesbians in the diversity mix. In other words, seek out gay alumni to serve on all the boards and advisory groups in the same way that Notre Dame's other minority groups are embraced by school officials. We see all the other kinds of diversity, blacks, Hispanics and Asians—but none of ND's very well first minority.
•• After these few suggestions have been incorporated into the lifeblood of the university, there will be no need for the so-called "Spirit of Inclusion," which I find to more like a spirit of delusion.
Altogether, the magazine articles and these gay voices that are allowed to speak for ourselves are only the beginning. In fact, to my knowledge, this is the first time ever (in 2004 at last) that out gay people have been accorded such an opportunity in this magazine.
Sure enough, the series is as interesting as some of the responses. Clearly, the university has much work to do for those of us who are gay, as well as for those of us are too comfortable with what the church says and rather uncomfortable with gay and lesbian Domers.
Make no mistake about this issue: it is a major step forward for the university into the 21st century. For that we can thank the persistence of gay Domers and the editorial courage of Kerry Temple. After all, there is no place like home for validation and acceptance. Telling these the truths of these personal essays goes a long way to reconciling Notre Dame's gay sons and daughters with our alma mater.
Sometimes you can go home again. Surely even those who find gay and lesbian alumni so challenging, if not problematic, to the university' Catholic character, would want the place safe enough and welcoming enough for us to come back. At least I would hope so.
We are just as much Domers as anyone else. As such we are entitled to the same privileges and benefits and responsibilities that go along with being alumni. In a way it's just like full civil marriage rights for gays. Nothing more, nothing less—full and equal, just like straights take for granted all the time.
Chuck Colbert '78
I write to commend you for publishing the articles on homosexuality in the last issue of _Notre Dame Magazine_. Gays and lesbians have long been a part of the alumni/ae community, and we have been sharing our voices over the last several years through a separate alumni/ae newsletter. Having our voices represented in Notre Dame Magazine goes a long way toward affirming our inclusion in the Notre Dame family. Thank you!
James Cavendish '97 Ph.D.
The article in your magazine by Thomas A. Nelson '53 is an outstanding contribution to the field of moral theology even though the author did not delve into the morality of homosexuality.
Christianity over the last 2000 years has had a moral theology based on Sacred Scripture and Tradition primarily, and secondarily in gray areas on the magisterium of pope and bishops and on theologians for a most common opinion, more common opinion, and lastly common opinion. The track record of the use of these fonts of knowledge have produced a decent moral theology but has shown some weaknesses in the search for truth e.g. slavery was all right for centuries, usury held sway for a good long time with an imprimatur and it was deemed moral to imprison Galileo because his science stated that the earth rotated around the sun not vice-versa.
In the area of sexuality, since the 1100's, the moral theologians, who have waxed eloquent from their monasteries, have had as their primary source Saint Augustine (4th and 5th century) and their own experience living a celibate lifestyle, in which they did not interact with women or tried to look through women as if they were not there.
Tom Nelson has brought forth through his piece, the other font of truth that the Holy Spirit utilizes but the church leadership avoids—"Sensus fideluem" or the sense of the faithful.
We should pay more attention to the Holy Spirit working in married and single equally educated people, than on celibate theologians on the issues of sexuality and sensitivity. The former are living in the circumstances of the real world.
I am impressed, moved and enlightened by this package of pieces, and must commend the editors for the courage and grace with which this magazine was made. It cuts through the shrill arguing, brittle paranoia, fear, illusion, lies and politics to matters of the heart and soul. That is what a great magazine is after; that is what my alma mater, at its best, is after. Very well done. Question: how many universities and their magazines would have the courage to address such a heated issue of such immense import to so many of its students and alumni?
Brian Doyle '78
I would like to thank you and your staff for the recent issue devoted to stories of the GLBT community at Notre Dame. As an alumnus, and a gay man, the visibility you have created with this issue represents one of the first meaningful gestures of recognizing members of the Notre community who also happen to be gay. It is such a shame that the administration just "doesn't get it" when it comes to supporting a group of students and alumni that unfortunately are considered less than full members of the ND family.
I was truly disheartened to read of the young lady who felt she was not a "complete" member of her peer group because she could not be open and honest with them. Because this environment is allowed to exist at ND, the entire community is missing out on the contributions these students can make.In business, we recognize the important of diversity in the workplace. Diversity serves to strengthen the overall work environment, and promote individual differences as valuable to the organization and important in delivering quality customer service. I often quote a saying, "Diversity is not an obligation, it is an opportunity". From what I can see, ND is missing out on the "opportunity" these students can provide.
After a long absence, I returned to ND several years ago with my daughter who was considering applying for admissions. As we walked around campus, the magic of ND came back to life for me. It was like I had never left. I felt the warmth and joy of being in a setting where I was amongst friends. After having visited several other schools in the preceding weeks, at that moment I remembered why I loved ND, and why I wanted my daughter to go there. I am happy to say she is now entering her junior year at ND, and will be in Rome this fall with her fellow archie classmates. She already misses waking up to the band marching by Cavanaugh playing the fight song, and to the smell of bratwurst cooking on an open grill Saturday mornings in the fall.
I want to thank you again for your courage and strength in creating an opportunity where a meaningful dialogue can occur to change the environment that currently exists. Young minds and spirits (even the ones that happened to be gay) are too valuable a resource to waste. Lets do everything we can to encourage and support these individuals we are proud to call "fellow domers."
John (Jack) Bergen ND '77
I am so happy to finally see some acknowledgement of the gifts that our gay/lesbian/bisexual brothers and sisters have to offer our world and our Notre Dame community. It has long been a contradiction for a community that professes to care for each of its family members to simultaneously shun many of them for being exactly as God has made them. Every person has the ability to bring life into this world, and the biological definition need not be the only factor to determine how life-giving each person can be.
Let us be better to one another, and not just seek to be more "tolerant" but to truly look into the hearts of every person and see God in each person, and let our man-made policies reflect that openness and love.
Thank you for having the courage to publish this edition; I hope that the administration has that self-same courage to recognize campus groups such as OutreachND and United in Diversity, and to amend its legal statement of non-discrimination.
Christopher Alvarado '94
I applaud your decision to run the articles about homosexuality in your summer issue. Growing up I knew I was gay, but did everything I could to hide it, because of my fear of rejection from family and friends. It is important for institutions of higher education to share real life stories to help educate the public. Sometimes people are afraid of what they don't know.
Congratulations for having the courage to publish these articles. As a gay man, it gives me hope that the future will be brighter for our younger generation and for our society. Maybe someday, "and justice for all" will really have a stronger meaning.
How can you publish articles supporting a lifestyle prohibited by the Catholic church and still represent a Catholic University? Either you're with the church or you're not. Your choice, but you need to decide.
Bill Reilly '60
Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey
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