Matt C. Abbott
Catholic academe could learn from BYU; Westboro Baptist Church controversy; Archbishop OKs cross-dressing?
By Matt C. Abbott
March 4, 2011

Brigham Young University, affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, has suspended its star basketball player, Brandon Davies, for engaging in fornication (click here for the story). According to

    'BYU's honor code forbids students from having premarital sex and instructs them to 'live a chaste and virtuous life'..... BYU's honor code also requires students to be honest; abstain from alcoholic beverages, tobacco, tea, coffee and substance abuse; and attend church regularly.'

Can you imagine if such a scenario were to occur (ahem) at the majority of Catholic colleges and universities — do you think they would do what BYU has done? I doubt it. Seriously. Now, I do realize that there is nothing immoral about drinking tea, coffee or alcohol in moderation. And yet, BYU's rule that its students abstain from alcoholic beverages doesn't bother me considering a number of college students drink alcohol only to get drunk and stupid.

Obviously I'm not a proponent of Mormonism, but how unfortunate that BYU makes the majority of (not all, of course) Catholic colleges and universities, not to mention most secular institutions of higher learning (cough-Northwestern University-cough), look like cesspools.

The recent SCOTUS ruling involving Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church is a controversial one, no doubt (click here for the story). First, let me say that I'm disgusted by the actions of Phelps and his followers. What they do is morally reprehensible and isn't even remotely Christian.

That said, from a legal and secular perspective, it seems that if I condemn the court's ruling, the door is open for the pro-aborts to say, in effect, "Well, Matt, we think that anti-choice activists who show graphic abortion photos and who harass women going into abortion clinics should be shut down as well."

And they would have a point. It does come down to freedom of speech. I detest Phelps' immoral "speech," but, from a legal and secular perspective, I really can't condemn the court's decision to allow it. The argument has been made that Phelps is engaging in targeted harassment. True, but the pro-aborts say the same thing about sidewalk counselors. And pro-life activists' freedom of speech is being eroded by the pro-abortion powers that be. It's troubling.

Morally speaking, of course, there's no comparison between what Phelps and his followers do and what peaceful pro-life activists do. (Incidentally, author Thomas Fleming, president of The Rockford Institute, has an interesting take on the ruling. Click here to read it.)

On a somewhat related subject, how does the libertarian argument, made by some Catholics, that the government shouldn't outlaw adult pornography square with the Catechism of the Catholic Church's teaching that "[c]ivil authorities should prevent the production and distribution of pornographic materials" (no. 2354)? The Catechism doesn't specify child pornography, so I assume it's referring to the outlawing of all forms of pornography.

If one (not me, by the way) is going to argue that adult pornography is essentially protected by freedom of speech and thus shouldn't be outlawed by civil authorities — even though it's morally reprehensible — doesn't such a position go against what the Church teaches? Thus, in regard to fighting the porn industry, I don't see any other option than to involve the government. Granted, the chance of our morally and financially bankrupt government outlawing adult pornography is slim to none, but still...

According to CBCP News (excerpted; click here for the full story):

    'Roman Catholic Church officials [in the Philippines] called on homosexual individuals to 'come out in the open' saying it would take a load off their minds. At least two Catholic bishops expressed their desire on Tuesday for homosexuals to go public over their sexuality because there is nothing to be ashamed of.

    'Archbishops Paciano Aniceto and Oscar Cruz told church reporters that the church didn't care about a person's sexuality, only on same sex unions and sexual acts. 'Honesty is very important,' said Aniceto, executive secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines.

    'Aniceto said there are many reasons people are afraid to come out as lesbian, gay or bisexual and it depends on the culture they were brought up in, and the point of view of their family and friends. 'That's why it is also very important to have counseling centers and formation groups that will face this issue,' Aniceto said.

    'The prelate made the statement Tuesday during the launching of the book Homosexuality and the Catholic Church written by the late American missionary Fr. John Harvey in Manila. Cruz said the book is a must-read for everyone struggling with same sex attraction (SSA) whether a Catholic or not....

    'According to [Cruz], he also has no problem with men dressed as women. 'It's okay. We don't know their motive but they dress as a boy or as a girl and that is all that he does, I don't see problem with that,' Cruz said. But while the church is not condemning homosexuality, the head of the CBCP's dispensation desk said it will not tolerate homosexual acts.

    'It would be wrong only if you act on it. The same thing with heterosexual if we act on it contrary to morals then it is wrong... so same with homosexuals,' Cruz said. 'If a homosexual goes into partnership with another homosexual it is wrong. If it's only attraction, (there's nothing wrong). It is just a feeling,' he said....'

So let me get this straight (pun intended): Cross-dressing is morally acceptable, according to Archbishop Cruz?!


The Courage Apostolate, which I support, declined comment on the above story.

Links of interest:

"My Take: The Bible really does condemn [homosexual practice]"

"The Truth About the Homosexual Rights Movement"

© Matt C. Abbott


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He also has an Associate in Applied Science degree in business management from Triton College. Abbott has been interviewed on HLN, MSNBC, Bill Martinez Live, WOSU Radio in Ohio, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's 2019 ‘Unsolved’ podcast about the unsolved murder of Father Alfred Kunz, Alex Shuman's 'Smoke Screen: Fake Priest' podcast, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) and WISC-TV (CBS) in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s been quoted in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and other media outlets. He’s mentioned in the 2020 Report on the Holy See's Institutional Knowledge and Decision-Making Related to Former Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick (1930 to 2017), which can be found on the Vatican's website. He can be reached at

(Note: I welcome and appreciate thoughtful feedback. Insults will be ignored. Only in very select cases will I honor a request to have a telephone conversation about a topic in my column. Email is much preferred. God bless you and please keep me in your prayers!)


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