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IFI blasts Notre Dame for recognizing LGBT student group
by Chuck Colbert

This article shared 3815 times since Sun Jan 19, 2014
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A statewide anti-gay organization is on yet another tear in the culture war, this time striking out in South Bend, Ind.

Writing on behalf of the Illinois Family Institute ( IFI ), Laura Higgins, the organization's cultural analyst, penned an open letter dated Jan. 13 to University of Notre Dame President The Rev. John I. Jenkins, CSC, chastising the university for official recognition of an LGBT student organization.

Expressing "disappointment," Higgins criticized the student group, which she says is for "those who affirm homosexual acts and acts related to gender confusion as normative and morally defensible."

She continues "Would Notre Dame recognize other 'student organizations' initiated by those who affirm other sin predispositions," such as "polyamory, consensual adult incest, or the 'sexual orientation,' recently designated 'minor-attracted persons?'"

In Higgins view, what's at stake is the "temporal and eternal harm—intellectual, emotional, physical, and/or spiritual harm—to 'LGBT'-identifying students and the larger Notre Dame community."

A university spokesperson, assistant vice president Dennis Brown, declined to comment, saying, "As a general rule, we don't comment on the opinions of people or organizations that disagree or agree with university decisions."

But a former leader of the university's gay alumni group, Gay and Lesbian Alumni of Notre Dame/St. Mary's College ( GALA—ND/SMC ), quipped in a Facebook posting, "I don't actually recall us putting 'affirming sin predisposition' on the GALA agenda, wrote Notre Dame alumnus ( 1986 ) Thomas O'Brien of Pasadena, California. "At least it wasn't in the minutes," he added.

Jack Bergen, of Walpole, Mass., another alumnus ( 1977 ) and current GALA-ND/SMC vice chair of programs, had this to say: "Father Jenkins and the university's administration came to the decision in support of its LGBT students after much study and thought."

"Careful consideration," Bergen continued, resulted in recognition as a measure of "support and compassion" and in order to achieve "the goal of inclusion and respect for all."

"How dare a so-called family values organization criticize Notre Dame for caring enough about these students to offer the same support that all other students receive," he explained.

Bergen recently celebrated his same-sex marriage, which the Notre Dame Magazine, in an apparent reversal of policy ( ) acknowledged in the publication's Class Notes section ( Winter 2013-2014 ).

It was an all-in-the-family, modern-family wedding as the magazine noted:

"Jack Bergen announced his marriage to David Fontaine, his partner of 19 years; his daughter, Kerri Bergen Byrne '07, walked him down the aisle, and Kerri's wife, Rachel Byrne '06, '08, officiated at the ceremony."

Sister Jeannine Gramick of Mount Rainier, Md., a co-founder of New Ways Ministry, offered a pastoral perspective.

"Laurie Higgins' letter expressed the kind of thinking I encountered among Catholics in the 1970's," said Gramick in email correspondence. "It is unfortunate that such antediluvian notions about homosexuality still exist. For example, she speaks of 'the very foundations of the created order.' I believe that most Catholics, including Church leaders, would say that virtues like love, respect, compassion, and care are foundational to the created order, not 'sexuality and gender,' as she alleges.

"Higgins insists on a 'Catholic doctrine' that is a rigid, biologically-based approach to homosexuality. This is an example of what Pope Francis meant when he said, 'The Church's pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines.' The Church's pastoral outreach to LGBT students on a college campus needs to be based on the students' reality.

"As a Notre Dame graduate ( 1969 ), I can attest that the life of the university community is enhanced when there are student organizations that meet student needs and provide a place where students can feel accepted and valued. In this age when most Catholic college and universities provide support for their LGBT students, it's about time that Notre Dame does the same."

And yet, one IFI board member stands by Higgins. Over the telephone, Notre Dame alumnus James Finnegan ( 1956 ) of Barrington, Ill., said of her, "She is saying what she believes," adding, "I don't find anything wrong with what she said."

During the state's same-sex marriage battle, Finnegan termed marriage equality "blasphemy."

"Notre Dame should not endorse the [gay] lifestyle," he said.

Copyright. Chuck Colbert. All rights reserved.

This article shared 3815 times since Sun Jan 19, 2014
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