In today's Star-Ledger there is a report of a Seton Hall university Associate Dean who was demoted for writing a letter to the editor criticizing the church's teaching about homosexuality. W. King Mott, an openly gay tenured professor, wrote the letter, signing it as an Associate Dean of the University's College of Arts and Sciences.
I used to work at Seton Hall 5 years ago, when Dr. Mott was the Director of the Freshman Studies Program. My colleagues in Admissions and I had the pleasure of meeting with him a few times in that context and he is really a very nice man. He left the University for about a year while I was there and he returned after I left. I had no idea that he was gay. I recall him being married (I could be wrong).
"Shouldn't a university be a place where this sort of conversation (about homosexuality) can happen in a good way? In a rational and coherent way?" Mott said yesterday. "That's what's important here ... A university ought to be a sanctuary for the expression of ideas, diverse ideas, contrary ideas."
University spokesman Tom White said if Mott wanted to publicly disagree with church policy, he should have done so without affiliating himself with Seton Hall's administration. "Clearly, it is inappropriate to speak against the Catholic Church or its policies as if representing Seton Hall University," White said. "If a university employee does this as Joe Q. Public, it's a different matter altogether."
Another issue which the PR people for the university seems to be avoiding, or at least not really bringing up because it's not really true at SHU, is that in a Catholic University, professors ought not discuss or espouse ideas in the classroom, or in print media, regardless of whether or not you identify yourself as a University Employee, which are contrary to Church teaching. (Anyone from Seton Hall who read Dr. Mott's letter to the editor would have known who he is.)
Catholic Colleges have a right and a grave responsibility to be CATHOLIC. Parents send their children to, and pay good money for, Catholic universities for a Catholic Education. And knowing that, there are many secular colleges and universities which would gladly hire well-qualified professors, like Dr. Mott, without caring about what they think about Church teaching.
I love Seton Hall. I think it is a fine school and I was happy while working there (I left after my first son was born to stay at home with him). I think it can improve on its Catholicity. For example, while I was there, and I do not know if this has changed (please, Lord, I hope it has) the nursing program has the students observe in abortion procedures during their student nursing. The faculty said that a student could conscientiously object without penalty and be assigned a different rotation, but what I would like to know is, why a nursing student at a Catholic university would even be offered a choice to be there during these procedures? There is no shortage of Catholic hospitals in this area, which I would hope did not offer this "service," why can't the students do their training exclusively at those hospitals?
A Catholic University ought to be an oasis for Catholic thought and ideas. Parents should not have to be worried about whether or not a particular Catholic university is really Catholic. Parents should expect that their children will still be practicing Catholics when they are graduated. People who are not Catholic should be attracted to a true Catholic University that would exude love and freedom.
What's interesting about Dr. Mott is that his entire professional academic career has been at Catholic Univeristies. I wonder why that is, especially since he thinks the Church is homophobic:
"The bottom line is, you're talking about a homophobic institution," he said last night. "The Roman Catholic Church is prima facie homophobic. The Roman Catholic Church considers me to be inherently disordered. I don't know how much more homophobic one can be."
Homophobic, eh? Well, let's see. If we go back to Genesis, we see that God created them male and female and "a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body" (Genesis 2:24). As Catholics, we believe that the way God started things out matters, and that God doesn't make mistakes. Since God ordained from the beginning of time that a man is meant for a woman and a woman is meant for a man, a person wanting to "cling to" someone of the same gender is disordered (contrary to God's created order). And acting on that desire is called sin. A sin is "humanity's rejection of God and and opposition to Him" (Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 386).
Homophobia is fear of or hatred for homosexuality. There is no fear or hatred here. Let's read what the Church actually teaches about homosexuality from the Cathechism of the Catholic Church in paragraphs 2357-2359. Bold type is my emphasis: "...basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity (cf. Gen 19:1-29, Rom 1:24-27, 1 Cor 6:10, 1 Tim 1:10), tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are intrinscically disordered....
"The number of man and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. They do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite the sacrifice of the cross to the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
"Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection."
We are created in a certain way. We are called to live as God created us to, not how our sinful world would like us to be. We are called to rise above the world, not to be OF the world. Feel attracted to someone of the same gender? There are people who want to help. There is a ministry called Courage and there are therapists who will help you to overcome this attraction. You know that is not how God made you. Don't feel like you should get married? Don't think you could ever be attracted to someone of the opposite gender? Live a chaste life. And the CCC distinguishes clearly between people and acts. Love the sinner, but not the sin, remember?
I'm sorry that Dr. Mott inends to leave the University. I am more sorry that Dr. Mott has chosen to live an objectively sinful lifestyle. I am most sorry that the students at Seton Hall study at a Catholic Unversity which is not unabashedly Catholic.