Dear Villanova University:
I’ve always believed that we should “[s]peak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Proverbs 31:8
However, I am concerned that you are getting away from your Catholic roots, based on some recent current events.
For example, the university has consistently allowed those who advocate for the death penalty, foreign wars, for giving less aid to the needy (we call them Republicans where I’m from) to speak on campus — even though these views fly in the face of Catholic Social Teaching (what I minored in at Villanova). Shockingly, Villanova has even allowed people to speak on campus who are against providing universal healthcare and opposed to providing people with a living wage. In fact, Villanova even sponsors organizations that openly supports all of these very anti-Catholic beliefs, and even allows them to use campus money!
Now, I’ve always assumed that Villanova only allowed such hypocrites to remain on campus in the interest of freedom of speech. Sure, the Church teaches that Catholics should strive to help the poor, promote accessible healthcare, and to oppose the death penalty. And just because some misguided souls choose to defy these very clear Church teachings on important social justice issues, as an academic institution, we have to be tolerant of their misguided beliefs. As much as we know their views are wrong and downright mean spirited, it’s important to allow them to hold these views and discuss them openly. Even though Jesus would probably find them appalling. I mean, the Bible was pretty clear that: “He who despises his neighbor is guilty of sin; but happy is he who has mercy on the poor!” (Proverbs 14:21)
That’s why I was a bit surprised that an openly gay artist, Tim Miller, was banned from performing on campus without a good explanation. Sure, homosexuality isn’t exactly endorsed (sometimes) by the Catholic Church, but the University has allowed organizations like the College Republicans to remain on campus despite ideals that are contrary to Catholic social justice.
I think it’s worth noting that the Bible spends a great deal more time discussing tolerance, charity, and love of your fellow man than it does condemning homosexuals. And plus, we all know that Leviticus said a lot of silly shit, most of which is now disregarded. So you’ll have to pardon my candor, but the whole anti-gay thing is kind of perplexing to me because I’ve always thought that “God does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.’ But I suppose the opinion of honorable men may differ.
In any case, this leaves me a few questions: why is it okay only for some organizations to have beliefs that the Church doesn’t agree with to remain on campus, while banning gay people like Mr. Miller? If you’re going to forbid gays from teaching classes at the University because their sexuality doesn’t jive with Catholic Social Teaching, shouldn’t you also ban anyone who supports the death penalty, opposes universal healthcare, or eats shellfish? I know that would also ban, well, about half the students and a good deal of the clergy. But it’s all good because God loves us and is forgiving.
But more importantly, wouldn’t you agree that who a person chooses to have sex with isn’t nearly as important as striving a world that is just for everyone…? And wasn’t it God himself who said: “Because of the oppression of the weak and the groaning of the needy, I will now arise, says the Lord, I will protect them from those who malign them.” Psalm 12:5
Given that’s the case, why does the University sponsor organizations openly opposed to social justice while banning artists who are openly gay? Why is who a person chooses to sleep with more offensive than those who are opposed to Catholic social teachings focused on helping the needy?
And really, shouldn’t we stand up for the weak, like our openly gay brothers and sisters? And all of our gay brothers and sisters forced to remain in the closet for fear of repercussion? Does it really matter who they choose to sleep with?
Lord knows the University is tolerating some downright anti-Catholic stuff. The important stuff.
So if we’re going to break the rules, let’s at least break the stupid ones.
I’d appreciate a response.
-Jordan Rushie, Liberal Arts, Class of 2005
[Update] Father Peter has responded to all the negative criticism. (For the record, I like Father Peter a lot. He’s a good dude. That said…)
I read Father Peter’s response as: “Dude, we don’t care that you’re gay, it’s just that you’re acting like a fag.”
Don’t be gay, Sparky. Don’t be gay!
[Second Update] Bryn Mawr college did the right thing and decided to host Tim Miller. I guess Bryn Mawr’s administration feels that their students are mature enough to handle adult content…