US Catholic universities: how not to observe Lent

US Catholic universities: how not to observe Lent

Three Jesuit-run universities in the United States hosted events promoting sexual licence, cross-dressing and homosexual ideologies just as Lent began, with Georgetown University being accused of promoting promiscuity under the label of 'sexual liberation.'

Georgetown, one of America's most prestigious Catholic universities, hosted 'Sex Positive Week' from 23-28 February, 2009, an event sponsored by feminist and homosexual student clubs such as GU Pride, United Feminists and Georgetown Solidarity.

The Cardinal Newman Society, which has monitored the calibre of American Catholic colleges and universities for several years, reported that one session featured a speaker from an organisation that 'provides a forum' for activities such as fetishism, cross-dressing, and bondage.

A talk on Ash Wednesday, 'Torn about Porn?', advertised itself as including a discussion about 'arguably alternative forms of pornography that are not supposed to be exploitative.'

A Saturday talk from a pornographic film maker addressed 'Relationships Beyond Monogamy.'

GU Pride political chair Olivia Chitayat explained the purpose of the week saying to the Georgetown Voice: 'The focus of this week is to introduce the idea of Sex Positive, and that's really about acceptance of a wide range of desires and sexual expressions as a way of understanding one another.'

She added: 'People have sex, and if they don't, it still impacts them. This is encouraging a dialogue in a way that people don't feel ashamed about engaging in it or not engaging in it.'

David Gregory, Editor-in-Chief of the Catholic-focused student publication The Georgetown Academy, said he was 'absolutely furious' that the Student Activities Commission funded the event.

'I think about Gaston Hall and you have 'Wisdom' on one side of the ceiling and 'Virtue' on the other side,' he told The Georgetown Voice, referring to a campus building. 'And a discussion like the one that took place there on Monday does not promote a healthy view toward human relationships. I'm so upset [because] there was no-one to counter this anything-goes point of view.'

Georgetown University political science professor Patrick Deneen also commented on the event at writer Rod Dreher's BeliefNet blog, 'Crunchy Conservative.'

He said observers should not assume that Christian teaching about human sexuality is made known at Georgetown University.

'It is not,' Professor Deneen charged. 'The university feebly attempts to pretend to be concerned about matters of sexuality, but addresses them in terms of 'health.' Students who are required to take two courses in Theology are rarely, if ever, introduced to something like Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body. The only orthodoxy on campus is sexual liberation.'

Noting that the university had established a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered and Questioning 'Resource Center,' he said there is no comparable centre on campus dedicated to 'an expressly Catholic teaching on human sexuality.'

Moral climate

'So what is the message being sent to today's students? Sex, like everything else, is a matter of preference, choice, personal liberty and utilitarian pleasure. It is largely consequence-free recreation. We should recognise that the same moral climate that contributed to the devastation of the worldwide economy is the same moral climate that informs 'Sex Positive Week',' Professor Deneen argued.

Georgetown, he said, wants 'desperately to be accepted on the terms set by the broader culture. Rather than taking a part in attempting to shape, even change that culture, Georgetown is shaped in its image.'

Professor Deneen continued: 'Parents and university caretakers have been deeply complicit in what goes on in today's universities. They have largely reneged their responsibilities to set a proper tone as their young make the transition from childhood to adulthood, instead offering them a responsibility-free zone for four years at the same time when most cultures have elaborate rituals and practices to assist young people in that difficult and dangerous transition.'

At Loyola University of Chicago on 24 February, the university's Student Diversity and Cultural Affairs Office presented a film about a homosexual African-American who is transported in time to 'cavort' with the supposedly homosexual writer Langston Hughes, the Cardinal Newman Society reported.

The film is part of a semester- long 'Color of Queer Film Series' sponsored by the university. Another upcoming film in the series concerns a 12-year-old boy who falls in love with a male police officer.

At Seattle University, the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the student Trans and Allies Club are sponsoring 'Transgender Awareness Week' which includes a session on supposedly transgender Bible heroes and heroines. The week also includes 'Criss-Cross Day,' which encourages students to 'come dressed for the day in your best gender-bending outfit.'

'These obscene abuses of Catholic values come just as Christians begin a holy season of penance, fasting and almsgiving,' said Cardinal Newman Society President Patrick J. Reilly. 'Faithful Catholics have good reason to be outraged and heartbroken.'

'That Catholic universities would permit these events on their campuses at any time of the year is unthinkable, but to do so during the holy season of Lent is unconscionable,' he added. 'The saddest part of this story is that there is no indication that these universities are ashamed or embarrassed by what is taking place on their Catholic campuses. Parents and potential students might begin to wonder how these universities can in good conscience consider themselves Catholic when they allow such perverse distortions of Catholic values to take place.'

With acknowledgement to Catholic News Agency.

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