College KofC Grand Knight Ousted Over Sexuality

Andrew Keyes, a graduating senior at Saint Anselm’s College,New Hampshire, has been forced to resign from his role of Grand Knight at the school’s chapter of Knights of Columbus (KofC) over controversy surrounding his sexuality.

After Keyes brought his boyfriend to a formal party sponsored by the KofC chapter, fellow Knight Andrew Cilento reported the incident to Father Benedict Guevin, OSB, chaplain of the Saint Anselm’s chapter.  Guevin asked Keyes to resign, fearing an emerging scandal. According to Guevin, Keyes’ continued leadership would prove a hypocritical frame: disobeying Church teaching while leading an organization which promotes it. To not resign, Guevin said, would be “an action that can lead to confusion and doubt regarding the church’s teaching.”

St. Anselm’s College is a generally LGBT-friendly campus, including having recently sponsored a Visibility Day.  Because of this supportive atmosphere, Keyes reported to America magazine that he thinks another entity was involved in his ouster:

“. . .Mr. Keyes believes his case went beyond his otherwise supportive campus and that Father Guevin was pressured by the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council to ask for the resignation.

“But the Supreme Council disputes this, saying in a statement to America, ‘It is not our practice to make a determination on someone’s Catholicity’ and ‘the Supreme Council did not direct the local chapter to take action on this issue.’ For his part, Father Guevin acknowledged in an email that he reached out to the Supreme Council and was given the choice to do nothing or to ask for Mr. Keyes’s resignation.”

Surprisingly, Fr. Guevin acknowledged that if Keyes had been secretive about his sexuality and relationship, there would not have been a controversy.  America reported:

‘Father Guevin echoes the Knights’ statement, saying Mr. Keyes’s sexuality—he identifies as bisexual—is not the problem. He maintained that the issue was not the role of L.G.B.T. persons in the church but student leaders scandalizing others by publicly opposing Catholic teaching.

“ ‘If Mr. Keyes were gay and private about it and kept his private life private, there would be no issue,’ Father Guevin told the Hilltopper, a campus newspaper.”

New Ways Ministry’s Executive Director, Francis DeBernardo, told America that the incident “goes against the trend of Catholic higher education,” as he observed that St. Anselm’s and many other Catholic colleges would not have made an incident out of Keyes’ decision.

The Manchester Union-Leader reported that St. Anselm’s College said they had no role in the decision:

“St. Anselm College spokesman Michelle Adams O’Regan said the Knights of Columbus Council is not a student-funded or college-funded organization.

” ‘It operates under the authority of the Knights of Columbus headquarters in New Haven, Conn. Saint Anselm College has no authority over action taken by its membership, the chapter chaplain or the organization’s national office,’ O’Regan said.

An article in The Hilltopper, a campus newspaper, said that some student Knights have resigned over the treatment of Keyes.

In addition to his resignation, Keyes was “stripped of his responsibilities” as an altar server and master of ceremonies at the college’s campus church, and “has not been scheduled to serve at Masses” since, according to America. He “finds it a little painful to attend Mass with his peers and has not felt motivated to go since the incident.”

“It’ll take a little while to get back to the faith and the church,” Keyes said in an interview with America, “but I’m still holding on.”

Many other Catholics facing similar situations of discrimination have been holding on, too. Yet, they shouldn’t have to go through this tension. At the heart of Catholic teaching lies an inherent dignity and worth of every person, worthy of respect.

This teaching was not extended to Andrew Keyes. While the Knights of Columbus do good in our churches and our society, they must do better with treatment of LGBT persons in our communities.   Keyes’ leadership proves that one can identify as LGBT and still maintain a strong sense of faith and integrate into Church communities.  His example shows that there is no contradiction in being LGBT and Catholic.

–Lindsay Hueston, New Ways Ministry, May 21, 2018


14 replies
  1. John Hilgeman
    John Hilgeman says:

    “Surprisingly, Fr. Guevin acknowledged that if Keyes had been secretive about his sexuality and relationship, there would not have been a controversy.” In other words, if only he had lied, there would have been no problem.

    The Knights of Columbus may do good work, but they have spent an extraordinary amount of money in recent years in fighting equality for LGBT people. They were one of the big funders for campaigns against marriage equality.

    • Bishop Carlos Florido, osf
      Bishop Carlos Florido, osf says:

      Thank you, you are absolutely right. Although not gay, I completely support those part of the LGBT community.

    • Rick Garcia
      Rick Garcia says:

      Perfectly stated. KofC has spent obscene amounts of money opposing the basic civil rights of LGBT people.

  2. Richard Boyle, OSM
    Richard Boyle, OSM says:

    Mr. Keyes was removed from the service of acolyte at the college chapel??? And what of gay priests???

  3. Thomas Ellison
    Thomas Ellison says:

    The key word here is scandal. Who is scandalized ? The Knights ? The Church? No, this action scandalizes the person whom they have targeted. By now, most of us shrug off the suggestion of scandal as being “their problem, not mine”. That is the healthy response.
    The Knights of Columbus have contributed funds for anti LGBT lobbying to enact legislation. Their suggestion that “if he had kept quiet” about his life is absurd. The Knights scandalize themselves in this most un Christian display.

  4. James Sheya
    James Sheya says:

    This action taken on the part of the KofC is not surprising considering the fact that they contributed tens of thousands of dollars to defeat the gay marriage proposition!

  5. Ned Flaherty
    Ned Flaherty says:

    A “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy has been announced by Father Benedict Guevin, OSB, chaplain of the Saint Anselm’s College Knights of Columbus chapter.

    Guevin apparently missed the long-running public debate and private torment caused by the U.S. military’s enforcement of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which ruined private lives and military careers for 18 years (1992-2010).

    Guevin claims that gay, lesbian, and bisexual students may assume that they are safe, but only so long as they thoroughly conceal their existences, deny their realities, and no one ever finds out the truth.

    In 25 modern democratic nations, history proved that policies such as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” are flawed, harmful, unfair, and impossible to enforce. Guevin may be a passable theology instructor, but he is not a medical professional, a scientist, a personnel specialist, nor a legal scholar, so he lacks the training and expertise to craft a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. He also lacks the concurrence of modern democratic societies to endorse or enforce it.

    Guevin admits that merely being gay is no problem, and he accepts all students who are secretly gay, yet he rejects all students who are honestly gay. It may seem to him that his rule conveniently avoids the issue. Ultimately, however, it does not. All his rule does is expose the irreconcilable hypocrisy underlying the very theology in which he is an instructor.

    Pope Francis tells gay students that “God made you like this; God loves you like this” (Rome, 21 May 2018).

    Perhaps Fr. Guevin will recognize that his theological superior is leading by example, and repeal his “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” rule at St. Anselm’s College.

  6. Friends
    Friends says:

    I’m gratified to see all of the above responses concerning the political attitude and behavior of the K of C — since our responders made my own anticipated comments redundant. Ideologically, the K of C represents the most extreme social, political and theological hard-right-wing of the Catholic Church. But I would be amazed if any Catholic under the age of 30 takes the Knights’ reactionary political ranting seriously. To younger Catholics, the K of C is totally irrelevant. But this doesn’t mean that the “Knights” cannot have a very poisonous influence on the public image and presentation of contemporary Catholicism.

    • Ned Flaherty
      Ned Flaherty says:

      Many of the under-30 demographic do view the KoC as relevant and do take the KoC seriously. You can find them at the 125 active KoC chapters on college campuses nationwide. Be aware that the KoC’s poisonous influence on public image, which you rightfully decry, is worsened by these very KoC college chapters which do, unfortunately, exist.

      See also: the Tradition, Family, Property groups which started in Brazil in 1960, and in the U.S. in 1973: TFP Student Action, which is part of American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property, which is part of Foundation for a Christian Civilization / America Needs Fatima.

      With 75 member-employees, 7 regional offices, and 120,000 members nationwide, TFP runs lunatic fringe campaigns to: deny the science of evolution, deny the science of climate change, ban marriage equality, ban LGBT personnel from military service, ban LGBT students from college campuses, end sex education, restore “chivalry,” and much more.

  7. Fred Sarno
    Fred Sarno says:

    Andrew Keyes should not have been stripped of his ministerial roles at Mass. In a way it’s better he not lead the Knights who have spent so much money on anti gay legislation.


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