Catholic institutions are at a weird crossroads
Georgetown University recently approved the creation of a new “gender and sexuality” living community. It is an odd thing: a Catholic university should, as a matter of course, already be a “gender and sexuality” living community, one that’s in line with the clear and unambiguous centuries-old Catholic teachings on sexual morality and ontology. But the politics of the modern university demand ever-more ruthless fragmentation and specialization of sexual identities, and Catholic schools are no exception. And so the Church’s preeminent university in the United States has green-lit a dorm where students are taught to, in the words of one activist, “love how you do.”
Catholic universities are at a weird and uncomfortable crossroads. The prevailing cultural ethos throughout the United States today is a sexual and bodily ethic that would give Caligula pause; “love how you do” is hardly the half of it. Amidst this escalating debauchery, the numerous Catholic institutions throughout the country might stand as a beacon of sanity, morality and sexual restraint. But that is of course risky: there are few things that irk the ire of LGBTQ activists more than Catholic morality, and the full brunt of this activism is not a pleasant thing to deal with. So you can understand the impulse to give way just a bit—to make some concessions that at the time seem reasonable and comparatively restrained.
Just the same: Georgetown made the wrong call here. It is more or less certain that, whatever will be taught in this “living community,” it will be antithetical to certain core Catholic values. The Church’s universities should be aware that bending on these issues is not a practical long-term solution, much less a dogmatically consistent one: activists will surely be demanding more concessions next semester, and it is a mystery why the Church would give in on any of them in the first place. Does anyone at Georgetown—priest, president, chancellor, janitor—honestly believe that an LGBTQ-centric dorm environment, one that is “geared towards queer and trans issues,” will do anything to advance Catholic values in this regard? Or is subversion the entirely more likely option?
One does not begrudge the Church for trying to navigate the difficult waters of modern culture in an effort to draw more people toward it. Yet in this case, the mistake is self-evident. Georgetown shouldn’t compromise its values as a sop to radical sexual activists. No Catholic university should.
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