Providence College Chaplains: Catholic Marital Teachings Are Not Bigotry

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In light of the distress and confusion experienced by many of our students, we the Chaplains would like to offer a pastoral response to the student body regarding the recent controversy on campus. First and foremost, we affirm our love and support for every student on this campus, and we are praying for each of you amidst the current tensions. As Fr. Shanley stated in his communication this morning, in times like these we must all strive to imitate the love of Jesus Christ with imaginative sympathy for all in our community. In order to help us move forward in charity, we wish to provide additional context, clarify misunderstanding, and offer our pastoral support.

From our meetings with students, it has become apparent to us that most in our community are unaware that this RA bulletin board was posted during the entire month of February:

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With its depiction of a lesbian married couple and the “love is love” slogan, the board appears to promote same-sex marriage. While people of good will oppose same-sex marriage for various reasons, the writing that borders the image appears to speak only in the voice of those who oppose same-sex marriage on the illegitimate basis of homophobia. This could be construed as implying that all opposition to same-sex marriage is homophobic. Some have felt marginalized by this board.

Most of you are aware that at the beginning of March, the following RA bulletin board was posted:

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This bulletin board affirms, in accord with Catholic teaching, that marriage is intended by God to be between one man and one woman. Some have felt marginalized by this board. Unlike the first bulletin board, this board was torn down multiple times. The RA who posted this board has been vilified in various public forums, threatened, and harassed.

Due to the continuing complexity of this controversy, we cannot hope to address all the issues involved, but there is one serious misunderstanding which we do wish to address. The February bulletin board seems to imply that those who oppose same-sex marriage do so for homophobic and prejudicial reasons, while the violent reaction to the March bulletin board also seems to express the misunderstanding that the Catholic teaching regarding marriage is homophobic. As Chaplains we are concerned to correct this misunderstanding.

The Catholic Church’s teaching that marriage is intended by God to be between one man and one woman is based upon the procreative dynamism of sexual complementarity and is a truth that many Catholics and members of other faith traditions joyfully uphold. Moreover, the Church rejects homophobia because it is contrary to the dignity of the human person, teaching rather that those with homosexual inclinations “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2358). The Church simultaneously rejects homophobia and affirms that sexual complementarity is essential to marriage. Nevertheless, many do not fully understand this teaching. Understanding the Church’s teaching is essential for moving forward in charity, and so we invite everyone to study this teaching. This short documentary is an excellent place to start!

After listening to many students concerning this issue, we wanted to provide additional context, clarify misunderstanding, and offer our pastoral care. As Chaplains, we are very sensitive to the fact that many students are still hurt, angry, and confused. Please do reach out to us if there is any way we can accompany you during this difficult time. We are here to offer our love and support as we all go forward living truth in charity.

Yours in Christ,
Fr. Peter Martyr Yungwirth, O.P., Chaplain
Fr. Michael Weibley, O.P., Assistant Chaplain
Fr. Dominic Verner, O.P., Assistant Chaplain
Fr. Bonaventure Chapman, O.P., Assistant Chaplain