Holier-than-thou debates bore
Cut it out.
I am sick and tired of hearing people try to out-Catholic each other.
On the one side of the gay issue, you hear that God would not abide by the discrimination against homosexuals. On the other, the claim rises that the Catholic Church does not accept homosexual activity as normal and, in fact, believes it to be disordered.
This issue always seems to be at the heart of any "I'm-more-Catholic-than-you" debate. Many other issues come and go on these very pages that, in some way or another, are discussed by the Vatican or in the Bible.
But here is the cold, hard fact. Much as any other religion, there is diversity in Catholicism — diversity of thought and diversity of purpose.
Just because someone doesn't think that a rape victim should lose her life attempting to birth that criminal's baby doesn't make him less Catholic. Just because someone wants to ensure that the baby's life is spared — regardless of the circumstances of conception — doesn't make him more Catholic. Catholicism is not a nature of degrees. Catholicism is like Islam, Judaism and Buddhism. It is a group of human beings gathered together in the firm belief that God (Allah, Yahweh, Buddha) has a plan for their existence and that they are to follow that plan. But in every major religion, there is difference of opinion as to how that plan relates to the modern world.
I could be wrong about this, but the way that I remember being taught, you can quote Pope John Paul II all you want, but unless he has invoked the doctrine of infallibility for the particular statement, he is speaking only as a Catholic leader and not directly from divine inspiration.
Thus people are able to take the pope's guidance and the sometimes-changing teachings of the Church and reflect them in their lives. God never changes his mind on what is allowable and what is not. That the Church can change the format of the Mass and the way that prayers are said only means leaders of the Church think the new way is closer to divine will. In the same way, when the Church decides that homosexuals are not inherently sinful but that the homosexual act is, it does not change God's view on what is sinful. It is only that Church leaders have reached what they believe to be a clarification.
Quoting the Bible at each other, digging up passages that support this view or the other is a good way to connect with people who all have the common experience of Christianity. But it is pointless and stupid if neither listens to the other's point and simply tries to prove how much of the Bible and the Papal documents he has read. Then, to top it off, each spends time thumbing his nose and using multi-syllabic and complex verbiage in order to extrapolate upon his thesis. Thus, each side will only stand forward and say, "I am smarter than you and I am more Catholic than you, so I am right."
Stop it. What this debate boils down to is the University. Father Malloy is hiding behind our school's Catholic character and hoping those people who think they are more Catholic than the rest will run to its defense.
The policy that limits ads for unrecognized homosexual groups was always present. It was simply never in writing. Now that it is in writing, I worry for the same reasons I worried three years ago when Father Malloy introduced the Spirit of Inclusion statement. I worried the statement was a way for the University to get good press and get out of the newspapers without giving homosexual students any real status or mention. It is a completely non-binding statement that simply indicates that no discrimination will be tolerated in a loving "Catholic" institution.
However at the same time, it allows the University to take a group of alumni and EXCLUDE them from simply saying congratulations to graduates in an ad. This group is a support group for gay and lesbian alumni. It is not a group that has tried to advertise changing the Catholic point of view on homosexual acts. It is merely a group that is trying to INCLUDE recently graduated students in the Notre Dame family and give them support because of who they are, not in spite of it.
So everybody just stop skirting the issue and throwing Catholicism into the argument. Let us all go with the basic understanding that homosexuals are not in-and-of themselves against Catholic principles. From there, on equal footing, we can discuss why such a group would not be allowed to print an advertisement about where they meet and who they are.
Matthew Loughran is a 1998 graduate and former news editor of The Observer.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.
All Viewpoint Stories for Wednesday, September 15, 1999