The Personalist Project

Accessed on September 21, 2023 - 4:29:44

How should a Catholic university treat gay alumni?

Katie van Schaijik, Sep 11, 2012

A friend alerted me to this NPR story about our alma mater, Franciscan University.  A facebook group of gay alumni complained to the university about the official description for a sociology course on deviant behavior.

Here's the description:

The behaviors that are primarily examined are murder, rape, robbery, prostitution, homosexuality, mental illness and drug use.

According to fellow alum, Greg Gronbacher, he and another alum contacted the school and asked them to change the description.

The university's attorney responded instead with an email warning them not to use the university's name or logo in their activities.

A few thoughts.

I think NPR and Greg are being needlessly inflamatory when they claim that the description lumps homosexuality with rape and murder.  I mean, for goodness' sake.  Calling all those things deviant doesn't suggest that they're all equally evil.

I also think it's terrible and alarming the that the University's accreditation is now at risk simply because it adheres to Christian moral principles.

But, that said, I also want to say that, if press accounts are true (LifeSiteNews is also covering the story), I think the University badly mishandled the matter.

According to its Catholic identity and mission, Franciscan University teaches that homosexual acts are objectively disordered, while those those burdened with same-sex-attraction are to be treated with "respect, compassion and sensitivity."  

But, is responding to a reasonable complaint by having a lawyer send a warning about use of their name and logo a good way to show compassion, respect and sensitivity?

Wouldn't the University have done so much better if it had rather responded more personalistically—by agreeing that the course description was too abrasive and promising to change it?  Couldn't they have reached out to the dissaffected alumni?  Or at least expressed some regret about the dissaffection?

The extent to which PR concerns and lawyers tend to dominate even Catholic institutions is extremely depressing.