LGBT Students at The Catholic University of America

Here’s my letter to John Garvey, President of The Catholic University of America, in support of CUAllies and their request for official recognition as a gay-straight student organization at CUA.

John Hugh Garvey, JD
The Catholic University of America
Washington, DC

April 17, 2012

Dear President Garvey,

Last evening, I had the privilege of gathering with a group of CUA students and their friends in front of Gibbons Hall. We remembered the teachings of the Second Vatican Council (Gaudium et Spes) that the griefs and anxieties of the people of every age are indeed the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. We recalled the teaching of the US Bishops (Always Our Children) that even those whom God created with a homosexual orientation are worthy of dignity, respect and the right to participate actively in their communities. We lit candles, walked to the Przbyla Center, and prayed.

As an alumnus of The Catholic University of America (National Catholic School of Social Service, MSW, 1998), I am writing to add my voice to the chorus of others expressing strong support for the request from CUAllies that this be an officially recognized student organization at CUA.

One of the most fundamental tenets of our Catholic faith is that each and every human person is created in the image and likeness of God. Every human person is to be treated with dignity, respect, charity, and love.  The Catholic understanding of the human person, informed by what we know from so many fields of inquiry, recognizes that one’s sexual orientation is essentially a given and relatively stable reality: it is not a choice or a “lifestyle” or a something that one can change.

You have the great privilege of leading a Catholic university, an institution which seeks not only to explore and impart the truths gleaned from so many fields of scientific and academic inquiry, but also the truths gleaned from the best of our Catholic Christian tradition. Truth, which cannot be incompatible with itself, challenges us to see the full human dignity even in God’s sons and daughters whom He created with a sexual orientation that differs from most of their brothers and sisters.  Some of these sons and daughters are members of the CUA community – they are faculty, staff and alumni. Most especially, however, they are students – students who deserve to learn and grow in an environment that not only tolerates their full humanity, but that also encourages them to grow in understanding themselves so that they are better able to understand others and the richly diverse world their education will help them to serve.

Please recognize CUAllies as an official student organization of The Catholic University of America.

Wishing you Easter joy,

Timothy MacGeorge, MDiv, MSW

Prayerful Vigil at Catholic University

It was great to gather earlier this evening with students from CUAllies, the gay/straight alliance at The Catholic University of America. CUAllies is not yet formally recognized by  CUA, as other student groups are. This gathering — not of protest but of prayer — bore witness on the grounds of this most Catholic of universities, praying that God’s LGBT children might enjoy at CUA the same rights and respect that as their straight brothers and sisters. Drawing upon our rich Catholic heritage, we heard passages from Vatican II’s Gaudium et Spes and the US Bishops’ Always Our Children. Prayers were offered on behalf of LGBT youth throughout the world — especially those who feel isolated and alone — that they might know there are people who love and care for and accept them just as God created them to be. 

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Kennedy Townsend and “Image and Likeness”

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend speaks at New Ways Ministry Symposium,. March 17, 2012

In her recent commentary in The Atlantic (The Case for Gay Acceptance in the Catholic Church), I’m flattered that Kathleen Kennedy Townsend would use the name of this blog in her closing summation about whey God’s LGBT children should — and in time, will — be unequivocably accepted in the Roman Catholic Church.

At this time, when the hierarchy does not want to recognize that we are all made in the image and likeness of God [emphasis added], and that the one of the two most critical commandments is to love one another, it is critical to assert that God loves the LGBT community equally. Sometimes the Church moves slowly, sometimes quickly. The point is to make sure the voices of dissent are not quiet and the Holy Spirit can be heard.

Ok, so perhaps she didn’t actually know she was referring to the title of this blog, but the Spririt works in mysterious ways, right? In any event, I had the privilege of hearing the former lieutenant governor of Maryland speak on the last day of the recent New Ways Ministry Symposium in Baltimore. She is an engaging speaker — as one would expect from a politician with the last name Kennedy — and had an instant rapport with the Catholic audience, perhaps many of Irish ancestry, on St. Patrick’s Day no less. When asked if she would lead the crowed in singing, “When Irish Eyes are Smiling,” she politely demurred — that is until a woman (a parish musician, no doubt) sat down at the piano and began to play that quintessential Irish tune. The entire gathering then erupted into song.

Kennedy Townsend’s presentation was markedly more conversational than the several plenary sessions earlier in the symposium. Author Richard Rodriguez, Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, and theologians Luke Timothy Johnson and Patti Jung all gave extremely substantive, thought-provoking presentations from their own areas of expertise. While much less academic, Kennedy Townsend’s presence and presentation was a reminder of the important role public Catholic public figures can and should play in at least raising the profile of the issues affecting gay Catholics. Such heightened profile provides greater success that our Church’s bishops — even if behind closed doors — will be willing to engage in dialogue with the Catholic LGBT community.

“He was an angel, a balm on our hearts”

Even as we struggle with how to respond to the abusive action of Fr. Marcel Guarnizo in denying the Eucharist to Barbara Johnson at her mother’s funeral, and even as we look forward to further action from the Archdiocese of Washington in response, let’s be thankful for priests like Fr. Peter Sweeney of Silver Spring, MD. According to the coverage in the National Catholic Reporter, Barbara Johnson described Fr. Sweeney this way:

“He was an angel, a balm on our hearts,” she said. “He was everything I knew the Catholic church to be.”


Cardinal George Crosses the Line

At first, one might think that Cardinal Francis George’s uncharitable comparison of the gay rights movement to the Ku Klux Klan was simply an unfortunate, off the cuff comment.  Watch the video of the interview with the local Fox station in which the comment was made, and you might have a different impression.  George is polished man when it comes to media interviews, and both his KKK reference and response to the pointed, followup question seem just a bit too prepped.

What should have been a story about how the LGBT community adjusted the schedule of its annual Pride Parade out of respect for the worshiping community at Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish has since become yet another example of how certain individuals in the Church’s hierarchy will go out of their way to speak ill of gays and lesbians. As Equally Blessed correctly states, the Cardinal’s comment is truly “unworthy of his office.” I would go even further. Such a statement is mean-spirited and damaging, not to mention simply untrue.

In these final days of the Advent Season, Catholics and all Christians look forward to celebrating the birth of Jesus and the presence of the Living God in all creation, especially in each and every person who reflects the image of the Divine.  His Eminence’s hurtful and hateful words tarnish him more than they do those of whom he spoke.