Cardinal Donald Wuerl celebrates Mass during a pro-life youth rally at the Verizon Center in Washington Jan. 25. (CNS photo/Rebecca E. Drobis)
Last Sunday Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C.
concelebrated Mass with the embattled chaplain of the George Washington
University Newman Center, Father Greg Shaffer. During his homily at the 7:30
student Mass at St. Stephen Martyr Parish, Cardinal Wuerl voiced his support of
Father Shaffer, who
has come under fire recently for counseling gay students to remain celibate
and for calling homosexuality immoral.
From the cardinal’s homily:
The Church’s long history recounts many
examples of efforts to silence her teaching.
Pope Francis is the 266th Pope.
Nearly all the first 60 Popes were put to death for the faith by those
in political power who disagreed with Jesus, his Gospel, and therefore his
We have seen this over and over again, in
various forms of narrow-minded discrimination and blind bigotry. …
The idea that the pastor of a parish today
or the chaplain of a religious community and campus ministry today should
simply be silenced because he faithfully announces the Gospel of Jesus Christ
that he should not be allowed to engage in dialogue with our culture, even in a
place that is dedicated to the free and diverse expression of ideas may seem
somewhat radical today, but you have to remember there have always been those
who try to force their totalitarian views on all of us. …
I want to make something very, very
clear. Our response must be the response
of Jesus Christ, the response of his Church, a response rooted in love. When we
are attacked, there will always be the temptation to respond in kind. But we
must respond out of who we are. We are followers of Jesus Christ.
But we also need to remember that we all
know people homosexual and heterosexual alike who may disagree with
particular teachings of the Church, but do not express that disagreement by
demanding that the Church and her ministers be silenced. …
We must be inclusive, we must recognize
the bonds of mutual charity and we must continue to reach out to all of those
brothers and sisters who come to Mass to be with us. We must be allowed to do so freely.
The Catholic Church welcomes everyone and
tries to walk with them on life’s journey while at the same time upholding a
moral law by which we are all obliged to live.
We have so much more to offer and so does
America. There should be tolerance and
respect among all people. There has to
be room enough in America in a society as large, as free and pluralistic as
ours to make space for all of us.
Dear brothers and sisters, never be
ashamed of Christ, his Gospel, his Truth or your identity as Jesus’
disciples. Always be proud of who you
Thank you for standing up for the freedom
to speak our faith and thank you for standing up for your chaplain.
God bless him and all of you.
In addition to Cardinal Wuerl’s public support of Father
Shaffer, an editorial backing the chaplain was published in the Archdiocese of
Washington’s newspaper, the Catholic
Standard. From that editorial:
The radical intolerance of this effort to dictate what a
particular religious group may and may not teach - and how students of a
particular denomination may practice their faith - should concern all of us.
Any university worth the name should not engage in this style of thought
control. Today, we face an increasingly aggressive movement in our culture
which seeks to marginalize people of faith and diminish the role of religion in
society. This has become increasingly true for the Catholic Church, in
particular, including individual Catholics who strive to live and express their
faith in the public square.
It should never be acceptable - and certainly not
at a university - to silence opposing views. The spurious claim that people who
voice the Church's teachings on moral truth and the nature of the human person
engage in hate speech should never be used as justification for attempts to
silence and exclude from public life religious institutions and people of
faith. Sadly, the GW case is only the latest example of this phenomenon. This
type of censorship of religious ministers and their beliefs and teachings is
contrary to the principles of fundamental liberty that our nation has
historically valued and for which George Washington himself fought.
Read the whole editorial here