Banned on Georgetown’s Red Square

Catholic Universities once worked hard to respect, obey and promote Church teaching. Students attending Catholic institutions of higher learning received unblemished spiritual and intellectual formation. Unfortunately those days seem over, at least at Jesuit-run Georgetown University.

On November 20, members of The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family Property (TFP) visited Georgetown. The issue of the day was a TFP flyer titled Are We Still One Nation Under God? expressing concern over the Supreme Court’s Lawrence vs. Texas decision granting legal protection to sodomy. The doctrinal paper reiterates Church teaching on homosexuality, quoting from St. Peter, St. Paul, St. Peter Damian, the Catechism of St. Pius X, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church promulgated by Pope John Paul II.

Its content echoes the most recent teachings found in a 2003 document released by the Vatican called “Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons.” The message could not be more Catholic and in line with the most current teachings of the Church.

The same document was published as a full-page ad in The Washington Times on July 14.

Two representatives of TFP Student Action went to the “designated free speech zone” of campus, ironically named Red Square. As they peacefully and legally gave out flyers, Interim Vice President of Student Affairs, Todd Olson, instructed its Department of Public Safety to remove them immediately from campus. Security guards then escorted TFP members off campus and bluntly informed them not to return.

“If you return, you will be arrested,” the guards said.

Yes, arrested. For what? For upholding the latest Church teaching on homosexuality at the oldest Catholic University in America. TFP volunteers pointed out that Georgetown officials were noticeably hostile to them, unlike officials at secular universities where they had recently campaigned on the same issue without incident.

E-mail to All Students

Apparently, Todd Olson was not content with just banning TFP volunteers on campus. Five days later, he sent a campus-wide email broadcast from the Office of Student Affairs to over 12,000 students saying that TFP representatives distributed:

…offensive and hateful material that attacked gays and lesbians. This material was deeply offensive to the individuals affected and to the ideals we hold as a university community…

I would like to take this opportunity to emphasize that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender members of our community enjoy the right to study, work, and live in a campus environment of respect and protection. We take very seriously our commitment to LGBT members of our community. Intolerance and invective have no place at Georgetown. As a Catholic, Jesuit university, we live our commitment to respect, inclusion and care for the whole person.

Emotional Violence?

An editorial in The Georgetown Voice reported the university reserves the right to censure free speech that is “grossly obscene or grossly offensive.” Mr. Olson cited this clause to justify censoring the TFP’s action. The editorial writer supported Mr. Olson’s action because the TFP’s presence on campus supposedly caused a very undefined “emotional violence” to members of the community and threatened their “emotional well-being.”

Yet, the TFP Student Action is anything but violent. Even when provoked, its members seek to be always polite, never discourteous, as Mr. Olson insinuates. Even The Hoya, a Georgetown University newspaper, recognized this. Mentioning the TFP flyer handed out on campus, the paper referred to it as “a calmly reasoned argument against homosexual marriage, relying on religious and legal claims. It did not attack gays and lesbians, as Olson’s e-mail charges.”

Not everything is banned at Georgetown. Georgetown welcomed pornography publisher Larry Flynt1 as a speaker and hosted Eve Ensler’s lewd “V Monologues.”2 Georgetown does not ban GU Pride and Safe Zone, two campus pro-homosexual groups that openly dissent with Catholic teaching. “It would be difficult to deny that Paul [St. Paul the Apostle] was your basic homophobe,” Safe Zone’s website says.

However, Georgetown administrators ruled against placing crucifixes in classrooms at the Inter-Cultural Center, as too offensive to non-Catholic students.

Earlier this year, Francis Cardinal Arinze, head of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, delivered a commencement speech in which he mentioned how the family is “mocked by homosexuality.” And pro-homosexual students and faculty unleashed their ire against the Cardinal. The remark sparked a huge controversy culminating in a letter protesting the speech signed by nearly 70 faculty members.

Georgetown seems to make unrestrained effort to promote “emotional well-being” in some groups and yet disregard the “emotional well-being” of Catholics who struggle to remain faithful to traditional Church doctrine. Such a policy is indeed grossly offensive: offensive to GU students, offensive to St. Ignatius, and offensive to God and His Holy Church.

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