Further responding to Misericordia University’s hosting of a homosexual activist, Bishop of Scranton Joseph F. Martino has written a reflection on the nature of teaching diversity and tolerance as it relates to the Catholic faith and authentic Catholic identity.
In February, the university’s Diversity Institute had hosted homosexual rights activist and same-sex “marriage” advocate Keith Boykin, having invited him to speak at the institute’s annual dinner and as part of Black History Month.
Bishop Martino had voiced his “absolute disapproval” for the invitation, later asking that the school consider closing the Diversity Institute and provide information about its efforts to teach Catholic morality regarding sexuality and homosexuality.
In a Tuesday statement, Bishop Martino wrote that the advancement of “tolerance, understanding and harmony between people of different races and cultures” are “worthy goals” which Misericordia University has a responsibility to advance “as a Catholic institution.”
“However, precisely because it is a Catholic institution, it also has a responsibility to transmit Catholic teaching to its students in ways that are not ambiguous or confusing,” he wrote.
The bishop repeated his statement that viewpoints “in direct opposition to Catholic teaching” should not be presented under “the guise of ‘diversity’.”
“Doing so within a formal structure sanctioned by the institution gives the impression that these viewpoints are acceptable, or that all morality is relative,” he emphasized.
“As Catholics, we must distinguish between authentic tolerance and an ‘anything goes’ mindset,” he continued, saying that an invitation to deniers of the Holocaust, defenders of slavery, and exploiters of women would not be justified.
Though these views are “diverse,” that does not qualify them to be given a platform or to be allowed to speak without any Catholic rebuttal, he noted.
Bishop Martino said that Catholics believe there is an “objective, moral Truth given to us by Jesus Christ.”
Faith and actions not rooted in this Truth risk contributing to the “dictatorship of relativism,” the bishop wrote, quoting Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s homily given just prior to his election as Pope Benedict XVI:
“To have a clear faith, according to the creed of the Church, is often labeled as fundamentalism. While relativism, that is, allowing oneself to be carried about with every wind of ‘doctrine,’ seems to be the attitude that is fashionable. A dictatorship of relativism is being constituted that recognizes nothing as absolute and which only leaves the ‘I’ and its whims as the ultimate measure.”
Bishop Martino added that it is his right and duty as a bishop to ensure that “authentic Catholic teaching” is provided in all Catholic institutions in the diocese and to confirm that viewpoints opposed to Catholic teaching are not being presented as “acceptable alternatives.”
He insisted that he had disapproved of Boykin’s appearance at the university not because of his sexual orientation but because he is a proponent of a morality that is “disturbingly opposed to Catholic teaching.”
The bishop described as “regrettable” Misericordia University’s response to his request to produce evidence of its commitment to Catholic morality. He said its brief statement did not convey such evidence.
Referencing Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Constitution on Catholic Universities, Bishop Martino listed the “four essential characteristics” of a Catholic institution of higher learning.
These characteristics are a Christian inspiration of both individuals and the university community as such; a continuing reflection upon and contribution to the “growing treasury of human knowledge” in light of the Catholic faith; fidelity to the Christian message as received through the Church; and an “institutional commitment” to the “service of the people of God and of the human family in their pilgrimage.”
Bishop Martino closed by recommitting himself to his duty as bishop to “promulgate the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church to all the faithful.”