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April 29, 2005

Hijacking Catholic Teaching

Christian Sohn

      GLBT issues at Boston College have reached a new level. With the passing of an amendment by the UGBC Senate (20-1) to create the GLBT Leadership Council as a self-governing branch of the UGBC and the amazingly successful strike last Friday, it is completely clear that an overwhelming majority of the BC student body, staff, and faculty support the GLBT community at BC. Then why is it that the sexual orientation still fails to be put into the nondiscrimination policy in the same context as sex, gender, age, etc.?

      At the 2005 ODSD Student Leadership Ceremony, held on Wednesday, April 13th, Father Leahy gave a speech about the importance of student leaders. He used the analogy of a Boston College building missing one of its bricks. He asked the ceremony attendees to imagine one of the beautiful gothic-style buildings with just one piece gone. Father Leahy said that missing a student leader in the BC community is like missing a brick in one of the buildings. Does he not realize that the current nondiscrimination policy makes it possible for any gay, lesbian, or bisexual student leader to be denied admission? Interestingly, one of the student organizations that received a certificate of merit was none other than the GLBT Leadership Council.

      I find it personally insulting that Father Leahy and Jack Dunn claim that Boston College students are unable to understand the complexity of the issue. Marketing strategies for Boston College include waving around the number "37", with claims that Boston College students are some of the most intelligent in the nation. So why would we be unable to understand the issue? Why is Father Leahy not tackling the issue head on? And why is it that his letter addressed to the students in the Heights was full of rhetoric and didn't actually say much about the issue at hand?

      Those opposed to the inclusion of sexual orientation in the nondiscrimination policy claim that doing so would go against Boston College's Catholic Jesuit identity. Those people are completely wrong. During the National Conference of Catholic Bishops of 1976, it was explicitly stated that "Homosexuals, like everyone else, should not suffer from prejudice against their basic human rights." In 1983, during the Washington State Catholic Conference, it was said that, "the prejudice against homosexuals is a greater infringement of the norm of Christian morality than is homosexual orientation or activity." Similar statements can be found in a letter written by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith to the Bishops of the Catholic Church in 1986. More statements were made in the United States Catholic Conference in 1987 and again in 1990, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, notes by Cardinal Basil Hume of London in 1995, and in 1998 by the NCCB Bishop's Committee on Marriage and Family.

      So maybe the entire issue is not as complicated as some make it out to be. Maybe it's as simple as the woman I saw during the rally who drove by in a Lexus SUV and gave us the thumbs down, showing that her first reaction to the words "Equality Now" was a disapproval of social justice.

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