Catholic students at George Washington University in
Washington, DC are rallying behind Father Greg Shaffer, who runs the school’s
Newman Center and who has come under fire for his statements about Church
teaching, particularly those concerning homosexuality.
From the GWU student paper, the Hatchet:
Two gay seniors who said they felt alienated by the Newman
Center's controversial priest will launch a campaign this week to force him off
At least a
dozen students, including seniors Damian Legacy and Blake Bergen, say they have
left the Newman Center in the last several years because Father Greg Shaffer’s
strong anti-gay and anti-abortion views are too polarizing. Shaffer, a Roman
Catholic priest, has spent five years preaching to GW students. …
students lambasted Shaffer’s counseling sessions, in which he said he advises
students who are attracted to members of the same sex to remain celibate for
the rest of their lives. They also criticized the priest for a fiery blog post
he wrote last May, calling gay relationships "unnatural and immoral"
after President Barack Obama came out in support of same-sex marriage.
According to the report,
Legacy and Blake sent a letter to the GWU administration, including the president,
demanding Shaffer’s removal from the Newman Center. The school’s Office for
Diversity and Inclusion is reportedly reviewing the case as well.
In response to the campaign
against Father Shaffer, a group of Catholic GWU students has launched a blog
dedicated to compiling positive stories and testimonies about Father Shaffer.
From “The Chaplain We Know”:
time as students, we have all turned to him during difficult times and he has
always welcomed us with open arms. No matter what sins we bring to his feet, he
has been there to help with a Christ-like compassion and love. Even when we
feel as though the rest of the world has walked out, Fr. Greg is there to
comfort us and to help us to overcome our challenges.
has helped The Newman Center to become our home away from home. He has led our
community to be one big family united in our faith in God and our desire to
live out the joy of The Gospel.
Catholic author and blogger Dawn Eden has also written about Father Shaffer, who
serves at her parish, St. Stephen Martyr:
With the help of the FOCUS missionaries whom he helped bring to
the university, Father Greg has fostered an exponential increase in Catholic
students’ participation at the Newman Center. The centerpiece of his program is making
the sacraments of the Eucharist and reconciliation accessible. Under
his administration, the Newman Center has expanded its sacramental life to
encompass twelve and a half hours of Eucharistic adoration a week, liturgies
that include daily Mass (sometimes twice) and four Sunday Masses, and daily
hours for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. On Easter Vigil, he received two new Catholics into the Church and
confirmed nine more. All this in addition to a men’s discernment
group and the usual Newman Center array of socials, speakers, etc.
Need I add
that the GW Newman Center is producing more vocations to the priesthood and the
religious life than most churches in the Archdiocese of Washington?
On the subject of priestly vocations, the GWU Hatchet published a profile of the two seniors leading the campaign
against Father Shaffer, one of whom was ordained last October by the North
American Old Catholic Church, which is not part of the Roman Catholic Church:
Now on the precipice of graduation, the openly gay student is an
ordained priest within the North American Old Catholic Church, which encourages
LGBT members to join its clergy. Legacy was ordained in October, and since
then, has held personal morning masses and structured prayer sessions six times
a day. He also hosts masses for other students in his City Hall room.
co-founder of Dignity GW, a campus group for LGBT Catholics that he started in
2011, Legacy rallied for same-sex marriage outside the Supreme Court last week
in his clerical collar. He said when he came out at the age of 15, his
religious mentors embraced him before his parents did.
Father Shaffer published a
post on his blog in which he stated that “marriage
is between a man and a woman. Period.”
This is not just
divine law, it is natural law (the law imprinted on each of our hearts about
good and evil). Every single rational person knows that sexual relationships
between persons of the same sex are unnatural and immoral. They know it in
their hearts. And, yet, they go against what their hearts tell them when they
try to argue for same-sex relationships and “gay marriage”.
Blake Bergen, one of the students currently leading the charge to have
Father Shaffer removed from GWU, told
: “Mr. Shaffer’s blog post
has direct psychological implications on students here at GW. To be told that
something they know to be perfectly acceptable is ‘unnatural and immoral,’
takes a toll.” At the time Father
Shaffer said, “I don’t apologize for the Church’s teachings, but if my
presentation of the teachings caused anyone to be personally hurt, I am truly