This is the world we live in: Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx has cancelled, perhaps temporarily, a presentation by a priest from the Catholic ministry Courage, which encourages gay Catholics to live chaste lives, in accordance with Catholic teaching — this, after protests from students, faculty, and some alumni, including a drag queen. The New York Daily News story, to which I’ve linked, repeats a damaging calumny against Courage: that the ministry believes homosexual Catholics should try to “pray away the gay.” That is not true, and has never been true about Courage. It’s about offering support for gay Catholics who want to live by Church teaching. I know this because I’ve had a couple of friends who were involved with it, including David Morrison, who wrote a book about his experiences.
It is beyond bizarre that a Catholic priest coming to a Catholic high school to explain and defend the Catholic Church’s teaching on same-sex attraction — and to offer a way Catholic young people struggling with their faith and their sexual desires can live in fidelity and joy — has been barred from speaking. This writer is onto something:
A pure heart leads to generosity, peace and fulfillment. We are all called to chastity — to keep God’s gift of sexual love within marriage — and for married couples to live in faithful fidelity to one another, all in keeping with God’s plan. Yes, sex is a beautiful gift from God, but we see the effects of the misuse of this gift all around us, don’t we?
The epidemic of pornography, adultery, sky-high divorce rates, human trafficking, treating others as objects and not as people made in the image and likeness of God, all can be traced back to the lack of virtue and purity in our lives.
Which is part of what makes the intolerance of those who seek to drown out the church’s beautiful teaching so alarming. For individuals and groups to bully, to threaten, to protest, when a priest seeks to explain this timeless and timely message to parents who invited him to do so, is a scary precedent. We have gone from the days when the plea from some activists was “all we want is to live our lives in peace” to “you shall not have the right to present your teaching.”
Who is being intolerant here? I am reminded of the recent shameful episode when Police Commissioner Ray Kelly was unable to give a talk after being shouted down by students at a renowned “liberal and tolerant” Ivy League school. Have we really reached the point where only one point of view can be expressed?
But here’s what’s so crazy about that column: its author is Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York. Maybe I don’t understand something, but doesn’t he have the authority to get that school sorted? He’s not a powerless bystander, is he? What am I missing?
UPDATE: According to two New York Catholics in the comments section, Cardinal Spellman High School is no longer under archdiocesan administration, which obviously reduces Cardinal Dolan’s influence in this matter. Still, he is the cardinal archbishop of New York! It is strange to me that he’s not more forward in pressuring the school to, yes, let a Catholic priest explain Catholic teaching at a Catholic school, and present a way for Catholic people to live in accordance with that teaching.