Rev. Brian Shanley: Statement on Providence College Controversy

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Dear Members of the Providence College Community:

In the light of the latest controversy to roil our campus, I would like to share some thoughts about how to move forward.

It belongs to the nature of a Catholic institution of higher education to explore the beauty and intelligibility of what the Church teaches. That includes the Church’s view of human sexuality and marriage. The Church’s teaching ought to be explored intellectually, especially in the classroom, and proclaimed from the pulpit. Additionally, it belongs to a Catholic college to consider the views of those who disagree with the Church’s teaching in the spirit of the disputed question.

Precisely because the nature of human sexuality and marriage is a disputed question, the dialogue that we have on our campus needs to be respectful of different points of view. For those who cannot agree with the Church’s teaching or who find it even offensive, it would be uncharitable to describe it as homophobic because the Church teaches that homophobia is a sin. In a similar way, those of us who profess what the Church teaches need to do so in a charitable way that recognizes the human dignity of every person as created in the image and likeness of God and in a way that does not foster the exclusion or marginalization of members of our community, like LGBTQ people or divorced and remarried Catholics, who find the Church’s teaching difficult to accept.

We will never eliminate the tension between what the Church teaches and what modern secular culture professes about human sexuality and marriage. Our challenge is to create a campus climate that will enable us to explore our differences dialogically with mutual respect and charity. In the opening prayer at Mass today we asked to “walk eagerly in that same charity with which, out of love for the world, your Son handed himself over to death.” Let us walk and talk eagerly in that charity as we go forward.

Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P.

President