Two Gay Students Allowed to Attend Catholic High School Dance as a Couple
Two gay young men at an all-boys Catholic high school in Rochester, New York, will be allowed to attend a formal school dance together as a couple this spring.
RochesterHomePage. net reports that Father Edward Salmon, SJ, the president of McQuaid Jesuit High School, sent a letter to the student body’s parents informing them of his decision to allow the couple to attend the annual Junior Ball:
“I have made the decision that, if our two brothers who have asked to attend the Junior Ball together wish to do so, they will be welcomed.”
Fr. Salmon framed his decision in the context of statements from Pope Francis:
“Our new Holy Father, Pope Francis, in the homily for his Inaugural Mass, had encouraging and inviting words: ‘Today amid so much darkness we need to see the light of hope and to be men and women who bring hope to others. To protect creation and to protect every man and every woman, to look upon them with tenderness and love, is to open up a horizon of hope, it is to let a ray of light break through heavy clouds.’ Darkness and heavy clouds have gathered here at McQuaid recently because of misinformation, fear, misunderstanding, and even anger. That misinformation, fear,misunderstanding, and even anger came about after two of our brothers asked whether they could attend the Junior Ball together. Into the darkness of misinformation, fear,misunderstanding and anger, together with Pope Francis, I invite and encourage each and every one of us in the McQuaid family to be men and women who bring hope to one another. I invite and encourage each and every one of us in the McQuaid family to be men and women who look upon one another with tenderness and love. I invite and encourage each and every one of us in the McQuaid family to open up a horizon of hope,to let a ray of light break through heavy clouds.’ “
The president cited the U.S. bishops’ letter Always Our Children and Vatican documents for support for his decision:
“I, together with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, who in their Pastoral Message, Always Our Children, ‘. . . call on all Christians and citizens of good will to confront their own fears about homosexuality and to curb the humor and discrimination that offend homosexual persons. We understand that having a homosexual orientation brings with it enough anxiety, pain and issues related to self-acceptance without society bringing additional prejudicial treatment.’
“I would like to let a ray of light enter into possible misunderstanding of the Church’s teaching. In that same message, Always Our Children, the Bishops are clear –‘Nothing in the Bible or in Catholic teaching can be used to justify prejudicial or discriminatory attitudes and behaviors.’ The Bishops continue: ‘It is also important to recognize that neither a homosexual orientation, nor a heterosexual one, leads inevitably to sexual activity. One’s total personhood is not reducible to sexual orientation or behavior.’ In that same message, the Bishops refer to a 1986 Letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which emphasizes that ‘Respect for the God-given dignity of all persons means the recognition of human rights and responsibilities. The teachings of the Church make it clear that the fundamental human rights of homosexual persons must be defended and that all of us must strive to eliminate any forms of injustice, oppression, or violence against them.’
“The Bishops continue, ‘It is not sufficient only to avoid unjust discrimination. Homosexual persons ‘must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity’ (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2358). They, as is true of every human being, need to be nourished at many different levels simultaneously. This includes friendship, [brotherhood] which is a way of loving and is essential to healthy human development. It is one of the richest possible human experiences. Friendship can and does thrive outside of sexual involvement.’ “
Concluding the letter, Father Salmon cites Pope Francis again:
“With this decision I am not contradicting the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church with regard to human sexuality; I am not encouraging nor am I condoning homosexual activity just as I do not encourage or condone heterosexual activity at a dance. I am not contradicting the Church’s opposition to the redefinition of marriage. With this decision I invite and encourage us all, as Pope Francis does, to exercise care, protection, goodness which calls for a certain tenderness ‘which is not a virtue of the weak but rather a sign of strength of spirit and a capacity for concern, for compassion, for genuine openness to others, for love. We must not be afraid of goodness, of tenderness.’ “
(You can read the entire text of Fr. Salmon’s letter at the end of the RochesterHomePage.net report or by clicking here.
WHEC.com, the NBC affiliate in Rochester reports that the school’s parents appear to be supportive of Fr. Salmon’s decision:
“. . . News10NBC managed to speak to several parents over the phone who belong to the McQuaid Parents’ Association. One parent said they are thrilled officials made the decision to write this letter. Another said they hope that issues involving homosexuality like this won’t be news one day.”
Father Salmon’s sensible and compassionate approach are a model for other Catholic school principals to use when making such decisions. What is good about his decision is not only his sense of hospitality and inclusion, but that he de-sexualizes school dances, which is the reality for the overwhelming majority of attendees. In doing so, he puts gay and lesbian relationships, as well as heterosexual ones, back in the category of human affection, where they properly belong.
If you support the president’s decision, it would be appropriate to send him a supportive letter or email. His contact information:
Father Edward Salmon, SJ, President, McQuaid Jesuit High School, 1800 South Clinton Avenue, Rochester, New York, 14618
Email: [email protected]
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry
Fr. Ed Salmon is right on target and I hope his clearly grounded action and the way he handled the situation becomes a replicable example to other Catholic leaders and servants.
This makes me hopeful that Pope Francis may indeed lead a change in church behavior.
You may have spoken to parents on the association however that consist of about 4-5 parents. I am a parent of a Mcquaid student and believe me there many that are shocked and appalled at FR.salmons decision.
wow!!!! whats a ray of hope indeed amidst so much chaos and confusion, God bless him!