The Gay and Lesbian Alumni Association of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s (GALA) has for some years sought, and has had some success in gaining, a foothold on the University of Notre Dame’s campus. It achieved one of its most important goals with the University’s recognition of a student LGBT club. Its target now is official approval as an alumni group.
While GALA’s goal of eliminating discrimination against LGBT students is praiseworthy, itscelebration of same-sex marriage, promotion of same-sex marriage on campus and sponsorship of training of students certainly is not. The Notre Dame Alumni Association (NDAA) should no more approve this organization than it would one with racial discrimination or abortion as a goal and an ambition to influence students and events on campus.
GALA was founded in 1994 and claims some 1,000 members. We begin our description of its hostility to Church doctrine with an instructive letter sent recently by prominent GALA member Gregory Bourke to NDAA board members urging approval of the GALA application.
Gregory Bourke of Louisville, Ky., was a party to the litigation resulting in the U.S. Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling. In his letter, he lists the positions he has held in his parish as evidence that “it is quite possible to be both openly gay, married, and still an active and fully functioning member of the Catholic Church.” If same-sex marriage is good enough, that is, for the Archbishop of Louisville, the Most Rev. Joseph Kurtz, the president of the USCCB, it ought to be good enough for Notre Dame.
But in fact it was not good enough for the archdiocese. In listing his service as Boy Scout leader, Mr. Bourke did not disclose that he was dismissed from that position in 2012 when he “came out” in his same-sex union. Then, when he reapplied for the position after the Supreme Court decision, he was denied. The archdiocesan spokesperson explained that parties to same-sex marriage could not “provide a credible witness” to Church teaching on sexuality and marriage.
In addition, Mr. Bourke’s and his “husband’s” design for a Catholic cemetery headstone was rejected because it depicted the Supreme Court with interlocking rings.
This is unsurprising. Archbishop Kurtz has called the Supreme Court same-sex decision a “tragic error.”
Mr. Bourke’s views and actions perfectly mirror those of the organization. The best evidence is perhaps GALA’s choice of persons to be honored at its annual banquet with the Thomas Dooley award, while GALA’s aim to influence campus life is illustrated by its promoting the training of Notre Dame students in campus LGBT activism. We begin with the former.
The Thomas Dooley Awards
- The first awardee was Virginia Apuzzo, a “former nun and lesbian political activist” who led the organization of the Women’s Caucus of the National Gay Task Force “in the home she shared with her lover Betty Powell.” She was “co-author of the first gay and lesbian civil rights platform” of the Democratic Party. The Task Force supports “change within religious communities” on LGBT issues such as marriage.
- The next awardee was Brian McNaught, a prominent LGBT same-sex marriage advocate who lived in a “sexually open” relationship with his homosexual partner before they became “officially married.”
- A few years later came Sister Jeannine Grammick. In 1999, after repeated warnings and investigations, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith declared that Sister Grammick’s erroneous pronouncements respecting homosexual sex had “caused confusion among the Catholic people and harmed the community of the Church.” She was, accordingly, “permanently prohibited from any pastoral work involving homosexual persons” and “ineligible for an undetermined period, for any office” in her order. Undeterred, she has campaigned for same-sex marriage, declaring it “has nothing to do with [Catholic] religion,” that bishops “act like little children” about it, and that she “imagines a future where priests are married to either men or women.”
- The next year the awardee was John J. McNeill, described by GALA as “a towering figure in the gay rights movement” who was expelled from the Society of Jesus after refusing to obey a Vatican order to cease writing in opposition to Church teaching on homosexual sex. When as a priest he “came out” publicly in 1976 he claimed to be celibate, but in fact he had been living with his gay partner for eleven years. They later “married” in Canada.
- In 2013, the award went to Bishop Gene Robinson, the Episcopal bishop who divorced his wife to marry his male companion (whom he subsequently divorced). Robinson has been a leading advocate of the compatibility of same-sex marriage with Christianity. The then Notre Dame student body president, who was present at the award dinner and who was a champion of the LGBT club and supporter of gay marriage, praised Bishop Robinson’s “version of Christianity.”
- GALA’s current chair, in his role as Senior Alumni representative of the ND Club of Boston, opened his August 19, 2015, bulletin to the Boston senior alumni with a photo of himself with his male spouse, his married lesbian daughter, and his grandchild and the text: “Hi Folks, The big day finally arrived! On Friday, August 14th, David and I became the proud grandparents of Lucy Caroline Byne. Lucy’s parents are my daughter, Kerri ND ’07 and her wife Rachel ND ’06.”
- Representing GALA at a panel discussion at Notre Dame, a prior chair of GALAopposed the Indiana ban on gay marriage.
Training Notre Dame Students
GALA sends Notre Dame students to the leadership program Camp Pride, “the premier national training ground for LGBT youth activism” on gay agenda issues, including “marriage equality.” The students are taught “successful campus organizing practices” to advance the LGBT program.
On-Campus Promotion of Same-Sex Marriage and Assault on the Church
As we reported in a prior bulletin, in 2013 GALA was permitted to present in the business school “a film on the life and homosexual love of the gay Episcopal bishop Eugene Robinson.” The presider: Bishop Robinson himself.
Proclaiming, “I have God’s voice,” the bishop declared, “The church, the synagogue, and the mosque have gotten this all wrong.” After listing the Catholic hierarchy among opponents, he continued, “It is not right what the churches have done to us.” “The church has been wrong before,” he insisted, “and it’s wrong again.” Those who believe in justice should “fight the religious sources.”
- The GALA Winter 2015 newsletter celebrated the Supreme Court same-sex marriage decision and criticized the Family Synod’s reaffirmation of the Church’s doctrine respecting the immorality of homosexual sex and its opposition to same-sex marriage.
- GALA supported the Gay Film Festival and now hosts student dances.
The NDAA declares that its purpose is to “support the University’s mission of faith, learning, and service,” and the University in its Mission Statement states that it is a “Catholic academic community” and that it “encourages a way of living consonant with a Christian community.” The Catholic Church teaches that the “way of living” GALA “encourages” is not “consonant with a Christian community.” Were the NDAA to confer official status on GALA, it would undermine both the University’s and its own declared missions and give scandal to students and the public alike.
A version of this article was originally published on the website of Sycamore Trust.
Timothy Dempsey is the executive director of Sycamore Trust, an organization that provides a source of information, a means of communication, and a collective voice to Notre Dame alumni and others in the Notre Dame family who are concerned about preserving the Catholic identity of the University.