Georgetown’s recent push to promote greater acceptance of the LGBTQ community on campus have come under fire from some Catholic organizations that say the endeavors run contrary to Catholic teachings. But some Jesuits argue that Georgetown’s support of the LGBTQ community is not mutually exclusive with its Catholic identity.

Articles published on the Internet in the past two weeks by several Catholic news organizations – Catholic World News, Catholic.org and LifeSiteNews.com – have condemned the university’s recent support for boosting LGBTQ education and resources.

“The pro-homosexual nature of the [proposed LGBTQ resource] center is [a] rejection of what is considered a serious Catholic moral teaching,” wrote Hilary White of LifeSiteNews.

The article said that the decision was one of several in recent years by the university – including the Law Center’s decision earlier this semester to fund internships at organizations that promote abortion rights and the university’s naming of a chair last fall at the Law Center for Fr. Robert Drinan, S.J., who the article called a “notorious abortion crusader” because he supported abortion rights while a Massachusetts Congressman in the 1970s.

“The incident follows years of criticism from faithful Catholics that Georgetown has lost its Catholic nature,” the article said.

Patrick Reilly, the founder of the Catholic university watchdog group the Cardinal Newman Society, expressed many similar sentiments during a speech at Georgetown in 2006, saying that Georgetown has veered from its Catholic mission. He specifically cited the university’s support for GU Pride, as well as its 2005 decision to offer health care benefits to same-sex partners of university faculty, as opposed to the university’s Catholic identity.

The Catholic News Agency published an article on Oct. 31 entitled “Georgetown University bows to homosexual activists’ demands” calling the university’s support of the working groups “controversial.” Catholic.org republished this article under the headline “Georgetown University to Fund Homosexual Center?” the next day.

The attacks come after University President John J. DeGioia announced at a town hall meeting on Oct. 24 the creation of three working groups focusing on LGBTQ resources, education and reporting and a resource center for LGBTQ students.

Members of Georgetown’s Jesuit community serving on the working groups said there is no inherent contradiction between Georgetown’s Catholic and Jesuit identities and its commitment to furthering LGBTQ resources.

“The [future LGBTQ resource center] is about affirming the dignity of a group of people who feel marginalized just by being who they are and need to have some kind of support,” said Fr. Christopher Steck, S.J., an associate professor of theology and member of the reporting group.

“We are trying to find a way that all people on this campus will experience this university community as a place where they can be themselves and [are] welcomed in their identity,” he said. “Everyone should be able to experience [Georgetown] as a place where they can be who they are and not feel violated, abused or denigrated.”

Fr. Timothy Godfrey, S.J., executive director of campus ministry and member of the working group on education, said the university would not be deterred by outside criticism.

“If we are trying to be better at being Catholic and Jesuit, then we need not be afraid,” he said.

“I think the Catholic Church calls for us to recognize the unity of all people, so separating one group as different goes against our Catholic teaching. God is love, and I think we are called to love our neighbors as we love ourselves,” Godfrey said. “All of us, who make up the Georgetown community, have a place here.”

Fr. John Howard, S.J., minister of the Jesuit Community at the College of the Holy Cross said he applauds Georgetown for forming the working groups. “I think if Georgetown is trying to promote understanding, that’s what they must do if they are going to be a university,” he said. “At the very least, you want to develop a culture of respect which doesn’t mean you have to agree with people, but you do have to respect their point of view especially if it involves their personal life.”

Howard added that Holy Cross has also promoted an open discussion of LGBTQ issues. He said that other Jesuit universities, including Boston College, where he used to work, have lagged behind in this respect.

– HOYA Staff Writer Michele Hong contributed to this report.

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