Letters to the editor

Religious leaders respond to controversy at the Newman Center

I am writing in response to the article, “Students mobilize to remove priest,” (April 4, p.1).

As an alumnus of GW and the Newman Center, I am close with the Catholic community on campus, including Father Greg Shaffer. My time as a member of the GW Catholics led me to enter seminary, thanks in no small part to Father Greg.

He’s too humble to write in his own defense. He is a kind man who gives his life to his students and is able to sympathize with their weaknesses and difficulties. He certainly wouldn’t say that one of his students had any less value as a person than anyone else.

There are two ways in which people object to homosexuality: homophobia and reasonable discourse. Only the latter form applies to Father Greg’s counseling. The claims of homophobia are not only false, but insulting and offensive to any honest thinker.

You don’t have to agree with the claims of Father Greg’s reasonable discourse – which is faithful to the teaching of the church he represents – to see that they are rooted in respect for the person and his or her well-being. Reasoned criticism can only stem from legitimate concern for the person, which is far from the hateful rhetoric of the homophobic.

My concern is that reasonable discourse is too often lumped in with the homophobia that has been all too prevalent in our society. Once reasonable discourse is lost in the noise, it is considered to be just as hateful as any claim against people with same-sex attraction.

I pray that the victims of homophobia may experience healing. And be encouraged: There are many, including Father Greg, who would engage in reasonable discussion free of hatred and fear.

Andrew Buonopane is an alumnus and a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Washington.

I’m writing in response to the article, “Students mobilize to remove priest,” (April 4, p.1).

As a Catholic priest and a former campus minister at Old Dominion University, I am shocked and saddened at the coordinated effort of a small but vocal group of students who feel that they single-handedly can dictate Catholic doctrine and faith. Newman Center Father Greg Shaffer would be violating his priestly responsibility and promises by not teaching an authentic faith and diminishing the teachings of sacred scripture. I hope Shaffer’s freedom and the freedom of those students who support him will be respected. Diversity and tolerance goes both ways.

Father Cole Kracke is the parochial vicar at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Hastings, Minn.

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