Catholic Values Columnist: Notre Dame University Hosts ‘Gay in Christ’ Conference


On Friday, Notre Dame University hosted a conference which was supposed to address “a pastoral strategy for parishes to be able to receive the gifts of self-identified gay Catholics,” while at the same time remaining faithful to Church teaching on sexuality.

Life Site News is doubtful that the ideas presented will be completely in line with Church teaching, however.

“According to Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, some of the speakers are too positive about homosexuality,” reports Life Site News. “Describing it as something greater than physical, same-sex attraction—and may cause harm by arguing for the inherent good of a ‘gay identity.’”

Ruse believes that both gay and straight people are children of God and should be treated as such.

“We are all children of God [and] we are not identified by our emotional and sexual desires,” Ruse told The Cardinal Newman Society in an interview. “Moreover, there is no such thing as ‘gay exceptionalism,’ that is, gifts that are unique to the person who is same-sex attracted.”

Ruse believes there is danger in misrepresenting Church teaching and thus confusing young people, inadvertently helping them make wrong decisions about the gay lifestyle.

Chris Damian, a Notre Dame graduate and one of the speakers at ‘Gay in Christ,’ recently gave a talk entitled, “Gay and Catholic.”

Discussing his talk in an interview with The Observer, Notre Dame’s student-run newspaper, he said, “I’m going to argue that the way in which the Catechism treats homosexuality is actually quite different from how it’s understood in the broader culture. The more I’ve thought about it, it seems to me that while the desire for sexual intimacy with a person of the same sex is a significant part of the gay experience, it is only one aspect of it.”

Ruse believes that this way of thinking is what leads people to have confused opinions of Church teaching. In an article in Crisis Magazine , he writes, “What they want more than anything is a development of doctrine. The Church teaches that homosexuality is ‘objectively disordered’ and that homosexual sex is an ‘act of grave depravity.’ The Church sees homosexuality as a psychological issue, the genesis of which ‘remains largely unexplained.’ There is clearly a long way to go from this to (the) Church seeing homosexuality as a gift, not just to the gay person, but to the Body of Christ.”

While some of Damian’s presentation at Notre Dame could seem doctrinally questionable, he did end his talk on a note of truth when addressing the abstinence that those in the Church must practice when facing same-sex attraction.

“The Church’s limitations are not meant to close us off, but rather, to open us up,” Damian said. “The Church places limitations so that we may be drawn deeper into reflection on where our intimacies and desires can lead us.”

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