Notre Dame Press has just published a memoir by a homosexual Notre Dame alumnus who was one of the plaintiffs in the litigation that resulted in the Supreme Court’s declaring same-sex marriage a constitutional right. The publication and promotion by an arm of the University of this denunciation of the Church’s “discrimination” and its teaching is lamentable. More, the author’s recounting of his interchanges with Father Jenkins that disclose Father’s evident satisfaction with the Supreme Court decision is both distressing and instructive.
Here are the details:
“Catholic, Gay, and American” by Greg Bourke
We note at the outset an unusual, if not almost unique, feature of Mr. Bourke’s book, namely, his dedication “to God, who inspired it.”
He elaborated in an interview with Notre Dame Press:
I have to say the Holy Spirit was been the biggest influence on my writing. Whenever I would sit down to write I would first pray for the Holy Spirit to come and bring me the words that I needed to best deliver the message I felt called to convey. As a result, I never suffered from a writer’s block or a lack of something to write. It helped immensely to have that support.
Evidently Mr. Bourke, though a professed Catholic, was untroubled by the Holy Spirit’s having brought a contrary message to popes and bishops for two millennia. Did God change His mind and tell only Mr. Bourke?
But never mind. To the book:
In it, Mr. Bourke (ND ’82), recounts his experience as a Catholic homosexual activist during his long relationship with his “husband,” including in particular the same-sex marriage Supreme Court litigation.
As to the Church, Bourke and his “husband” found a pro-gay Catholic parish in Louisville with a pastor evidently untroubled and untrammeled by Church teaching, but the Archbishop was not so accommodating and vetoed Bourke as a Boy Scout leader.
The Archbishop was exercising what Bourke calls a “license to discriminate” accorded by the Boy Scouts of American to church-affiliated troops by permitting them to continue to exclude homosexuals from leadership roles after the BSA reversed the national ban in 2015.
Archbishop Kurtz acted, Bourke says, because of his same-sex marriage. The secular reason for the BSA’s manifestly ineffective ban became clear several years later when an avalanche of claims of sexual abuse of boys drove it into bankruptcy. (The Catholic Church’s analogous sexual abuse scourge, in which some 80% of the offenses were man-boy, underpins the Church’s ban on homosexuals becoming priests, a disqualification established by Saint Pope John Paul II and reaffirmed by Pope Francis.)
Bourke’s other specific complaint against the Church has to do with the archdiocese’s refusal to approve a burial marker in a Catholic cemetery that depicted interlocked wedding rings and an image of the Supreme Court. He calls this “shameful discrimination,” pointing to interlocking rings on headstones of sacramentally married couples and comparing a headstone image of a Kentucky wildcat mascot to that of the Supreme Court.
He follows with general broadsides against “Church-sponsored discrimination,” “discriminatory policies of the Church toward LGBTQ people,” the Church’s “crusade against LGBTQ people,” and Church teaching that “reeks of oppression and discrimination. ”
And he calls for a change in that teaching that would recognize that same-sex unions are “actually consistent with Church values and teaching.”
All this is unsurprising. What is surprising is that Notre Dame Press would publish this assault on the Church and its teaching.
And what is even more surprising is that Notre Dame Press would praise the book as a “compelling and deeply affecting narrative” by an “unapologetically Catholic” Bourke, whose “faith provides the framework for this inspiring story” of his “struggle to overcome antigay discrimination by both the BSA [Boy Scouts] and the Catholic Church.”
But what is truly eye-popping is the praise Father Jenkins accorded Bourke.
Father Jenkins’s first tribute came in his response to a letter from Bourke a month after his Supreme Court victory — a letter, Bourke relates, in which “I poured my heart out passionately requesting GALA [Gay & Lesbian Alumni Association of Notre Dame] recognition.”
Father Jenkins opened his response with:
It was very gratifying to hear of your current life, your spouse and children, and your wonderful family.
Then, after expressing appreciation for Bourke’s comments and assuring him he and his associates “will continue to work on these and other [LG BTQ] initiatives,” Jenkins declared, quite gratuitously,
We are proud to call you a graduate of Notre Dame.
A month after, recall, the Supreme Court decision.
Then, in a meeting with Bourke later that same year, Father Jenkins doubled down on his tribute to Bourke for his role in establishing same-sex marriage as a constitutional right.
Father Jenkins was again gracious about congratulating me on the historic decision that changed forever the way the country would define marriage.
Bourke continued by relating how Father Jenkins told him that recognition of GALA was under review and “proudly offered reports on various other areas where the university had made some progress.” One was the recognition of an LGBTQ student organization, and another was “same-sex partner health benefits at Notre Dame,”
much to the consternation of South Bend’s conservative bishop.
I had the feeling that we had just met with one true disciple and authentic presence of Jesus on this earth.
The Reliability and Significance of the Jenkins Passages
As a matter of form, we invited Father Jenkins to disavow what Bourke wrote and to comment on Notre Dame Press’s publication of his book, but we expected the silence that ensued.
It would be strange if Mr. Bourke had not checked this part of the manuscript with Father Jenkins, and even stranger if Notre Dame Press had not done so. Indeed, given Mr. Bourke’s harsh criticism of the Church and its teaching and the passages indicating Father Jenkins’s support of same-sex marriage, it would have been bold, to put it conservatively, of Notre Dame Press to publish without Father Jenkins’s go-ahead.
However that may be, the passages in the book disclosing Father Jenkins’s attitude toward same-sex marriage go a long way toward explaining jarring episodes such as Notre Dame’s recognition of Pride Month and other actions we have described in past bulletins that are in tension with the Church’s teaching on sex, gender, and marriage.
In particular, Father Jenkins’s assurance to Mr. Bourke that the “NDAA and the university” were considering GALA as a possible NDAA “affinity group” links Father Jenkins to that subsequent action, to which we now turn.
The Irish Rover on the New NDAA LGBTQ “Affinity Group”
In a recent bulletin, we described how the NDAA’s establishment of ARC, an LGBT “affinity group,” amounts to official recognition of the Gay and Lesbian Alumni Association under a more euphonious name. This change of labels is a transparent effort to cloak the University’s approval of a group with a long history of public hostility to the Church’s teaching on sex, gender, and marriage.
In the lead article of this fall’s first issue of the Irish Rover, staff writer Josh Gilchrist(’23) came to the same conclusion.
ARC, he reported, “will replace the unofficial Gay & Lesbian Alumni of Notre Dame & St. Mary’s (GALA).”
This development signals the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the university’s engagement with gay and lesbian groups, as it adopts and rebrands GALA, which publicly supports gay marriage. Since its inception in 1992, GALA has sought official recognition by the university, but, until this summer, its appeals have been rejected or have not received formal response. GALA’s most recent appeal for official recognition was rejected in 2016.
Noting that “[t]he majority of GALA’s officers and several trustees are persons in same-sex marriages, and the organization openly opposes Church teaching,” Gilchrist reported:
In past years, GALA has sent Notre Dame students to Camp Pride, a pro-gay marriage program, hosted the late openly gay Episcopal bishop Gene Robinson for a talk on the compatibility of Christian faith and homosexual sex, and celebrated the 2015 Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, among other activities which run counter to the Church’s teaching on marriage.
As to reaction by alumni, Mr. Gilchrist wrote, “The decision has already created rifts in at least some quarters of the alumni community.” He cited this comment by an alumnus on Sycamore Trusts website:
The Notre Dame Club of OKC [Oklahoma City] has essentially disbanded as a result of the announced organization of ‘ARC’…. The result of [the club’s] stated support for ARC was the resignation of three Board members and the eventual resignation of the Club President.
Mr. Gilchrist closed with an assurance that he had asked the director of UNDAA and the president of GALA, who is the designated president of ARC, to comment, but that neither had responded.
While Notre Dame still has formidable Catholic resources in its faculty and student body, the pro-LGBT forces on campus hostile to Church teaching seem rapidly to have gained strength and boldness, much of it under cover of the Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity banner. While Notre Dame Press’s publication and praise of Mr. Bourke’s book is a scandal, the book itself contributes to an understanding of this burgeoning threat to Notre Dame’s Catholic identity by disclosing Father Jenkins’s benign view of same-sex marriage.
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