.- A new report by the Cardinal Newman Society says a conference series hosted by two Jesuit universities appears to question and even undermine Church teaching on sexuality and marriage.
Many of the conference talks are âclearly shownâ as a âvehicle for dissent,â society president Patrick Reilly told CNA on Dec. 6.
Reilly helped produce a report critiquing the fall 2011 âMore Than a Monologueâ conference series on âSexual Diversity and the Catholic Church.â
The series was the result of cooperative efforts by Fordham and Fairfield Universitiesâboth Jesuit Catholic collegesâas well as non-denominational schools Yale Divinity School and Union Theological Seminary.
Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York and Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Connecticut had expressed concern about the conferences when they were announced, and the presidents of Fairfield and Fordham Universities promised that they would not be used as âa vehicle for dissent.â
Members of the Cardinal Newman Society, however, say that the universities violated this promise.
After reviewing public online videos of the Fordham and Fairfield conferences, the society issued its report on Dec. 6 outlining instances where the conferences demonstrated a âgeneral theme of disdainâ for Church teaching and hierarchy.
The report observed that the event hosted by Fordham in September featured speakers advocating acceptance of gay âmarriageâ and sex changes, while disparaging priests who refuse to attend same-sex ceremonies.
Criticism of Church hierarchy was present throughout much of the event, with speakers citing âmedieval closed-mindednessâ and a âcontrolling patriarchy,â the report said.
The analysis also claimed that New York City priest Fr. John Duffell suggested that a gay man should lie about his past homosexual actions in order to enter the priesthood.
The Cardinal Newman Society said that the October event held at Fairfield University posed similar problems.
One speaker referenced the âprivileged ruling classâ in the Church and argued that if âthe bishops wonât send us priests, we should ordain our own.â
Other participants criticized Church teaching that homosexual inclinations are âdisorderedâ and said that the Church does not respect lesbian nuns who wish to become priests.
The report also expressed concern over conference organizer Paul Lakelandâs defense of a fake âCatholiQ Massââthe Q standing for âqueerââthat was celebrated during the Union Theological Seminary conference.
Both Jesuit universities, however, dismissed the report.
âThe Cardinal Newman Society misses the pastoral dimension of what was a thoughtful, reflective, respectful and civil event,â said Bob Howe, director of communications for Fordham University.
âFrom the Universityâs perspective, the participants declined to promote the changing of church teachings, either by guile or misrepresentation,â Howe told CNA Dec. 6.
He added that the conference sessions were introduced âwith extended and authoritatively stated church teachings.â
Society president Pat Reilly countered that the video record of the event âspeaks for itself.â He cited instances of the speakersâ dissent from Church doctrine and insisted that the âexamples are neither pastoral nor respectful of Church teaching.â
Martha Milcarek, assistant vice president for brand management and public relations at Fairfield University, maintained that âthe position of the Church was fully and fairly presentedâ at the conference.
She told CNA that participants were presented with âall of the relevant documents of the Magisterium relating to this issue.â
Milcarek acknowledged that the conference participants were not all in agreement with Church teaching, but said âthe discussion of disagreement is part of what Catholic universities exist for.â
Reilly disagreed in his comments to CNA, saying that the âpurpose of a Catholic university is to teach and explore the truth, which is rooted in faith.â
âSimply pointing to Church teaching and then presenting speakers to undermine that teaching is not a discussion,â he said, but âa heterodox monologue.â