.- Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades is optimistic about the newly-established GLBTQ student organization at the University of Notre Dame, but he is also underscoring the importance of it being faithful to Catholic teaching on sexuality.
“It is vitally important that the Foundations of the Pastoral Plan, which express Notre Dame’s fidelity to Catholic teaching, inform and guide the implementation of the Plan, including the vision, programs and activities of the new student organization that is being formed,” the bishop wrote in a statement Dec. 7.
“I also hope that the Pastoral Plan will be of support to all students at Notre Dame in living a chaste and holy life according to the teachings of Jesus and His Church,” Bishop Rhoades said.
Notre Dame president Father John Jenkins on Dec. 5 accepted the Office of Student Affairs’ recommendation to “expand and enhance the support and services for students who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered and questioning (GLBTQ).”
The recommendation includes the creation of a university-recognized student organization, which will be guided by a pastoral plan aimed at offering “support and holistic development of GLBTQ and heterosexual students” at the university.
Bishop Rhoades wrote that with the plan, Notre Dame “clearly affirms its fidelity to Catholic Church teaching on human sexuality” and affirms “the teachings of the Church on the commandment and vocation of love, the virtue of chastity and its expression in friendship, the importance of self-mastery, and the call to holiness.”
The foundations section of the plan cites the need to pursue “human solidarity and the common good” and says that “all must learn to govern their passions in disciplined ways on the road to lasting freedom.”
The documents also says that in all programs and initiatives associated with the pastoral plan, “due consideration is to be exercised so as to avoid any political or social activities that might compromise Notre Dame’s Roman Catholic allegiance and commitments.”
Bishop Rhoades reflected that the plan “affirms Catholic teaching that men and women who have homosexual tendencies 'must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.'”
“It is my hope and prayer,” he wrote, “that the rich Catholic teaching on sexuality, teaching that serves the true good and happiness of the human person, will be embraced by the students and all involved in the implementation of the Pastoral Plan.”
“I hope that the organization will be helpful in providing support for the students, thus preventing the experience of isolation and alienation which are 'risk factors for an unhealthy life, including unchaste behaviors.'”