Matt C. Abbott
Priests comment on 'openly gay' student, same-sex 'marriage' controversies
By Matt C. Abbott
May 11, 2012

From a May 8 Catholic News Service story:
    Keaton Fuller, a senior at Prince of Peace, is one of eight recipients of a Matthew Shepard Scholarship from the Eychaner Foundation based in Des Moines. The scholarship honors the memory of Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old tortured and murdered in Wyoming in 1998 because he was gay. Scholarship recipients and their schools agreed in the application process to permit an Eychaner representative to present the award during graduation awards ceremonies....

    'Being the lone openly gay student in a small, Catholic school has not always been easy. Upon first realizing I was gay, I suffered a lot of anxiety over wondering how everybody in this school would treat me if I were to tell people the truth about my sexual orientation,' [Fuller] said. 'When I did begin to tell people, I was pleasantly surprised and touched to find that nearly everybody treated me with the same acceptance and respect as they always had. I have always been very grateful to you for this.'
Click here to read the CNS story in its entirety.

I asked Father Anthony Brankin, a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago, and Father John Trigilio, author and president of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, for their comments on the story.

Father Brankin's response (slightly edited):
    Where was the Archdiocese of Davenport when Prince of Peace School seems to have been promoting as a positive the homosexuality of its lone [openly] 'gay' student. Of course the young man should be upset: No one seems to have ever told him there might be a problem with homosexuality. He went for four years thinking it was fine to be 'gay' and that it's not a severe disorder that needs to be addressed clinically. So 'great' that he could even be awarded a scholarship for it!

    Then, surprise, surprise, the archdiocese pulls the carpet out from under him and says the outfit that gives the scholarship cannot be present because they promote teachings about homosexuality that are at variance with the Church's teachings. Where were they when Prince of Peace was saying to the kid, 'No problem'?

    The archdiocese needs to get its house in order. They cannot be playing footsie with the 'gay' lobby one day and proclaiming Church teaching the next day.
Father Trigilio's response (slightly edited):
    Saint Thomas Aquinas said it best: 'Never deny, seldom affirms, always distinguish.' The issue here is one of distinction. The bishop and the Davenport Diocese, as well as Prince of Peace Catholic School, are not denying a graduating senior from attending commencement, nor are they denying or interfering with his scholarship award of $40,000. What is being objected is the opposition to official Magisterial teaching.

    The Catechism makes a distinction between the homosexual orientation and homosexual activity (2357-2358). Any and all sexual activity (heterosexual or homosexual) outside or before marriage is immoral and sinful as per the Sixth Commandment. The homosexual inclination, however, while not itself sinful, is nevertheless considered disordered. The CCC also repudiates any type of bullying: 'Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.' Yet, it is not discrimination to denounce immoral acts. Hence, all sex before and outside marriage is condemned. Period. Heterosexual or homosexual, all sex outside the parameters of marriage are grave, mortal sins.

    Therefore, the bishop, diocese and school did not discriminate against the student since he is allowed to graduate and he was not impeded from receiving the scholarship. All that was denied is a platform for the Eychaner Foundation. The same would have applied were a student to receive a scholarship from Planned Parenthood or [a similar] organization. Such groups publicly promote and support ideologies and activities the natural moral law and the Catholic Church consider wrong, immoral and gravely sinful.

    While everyone should denounce any all forms of bullying, that does not mean that every opinion and idea must be considered equally true. Human persons are made in the image and likeness of God; therefore, it the person who has inalienable rights. Orientations, inclinations, ideologies, opinions and the like do not enjoy equal rights. Human beings have rights, not propositions. What I think and say must conform to reality. If they do not, they are false. If they agree with reality, they are true.

    Truth is known by science, reason and revelation. Truth is not subservient to popularity, political correctness or plebiscite. Marriage is a permanent, faithful and fruitful union between one man and one woman. That is not open for debate any more than water is two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen. While no one should be bullied or unjustly discriminated, that does not mean society gives carte blanche for anyone to redefine or reinvent marriage to include the union of two men or two women. Otherwise, polygamy would have to be tolerated so that one could have multiple spouses. What would prevent a brother and sister from marrying or the marriage of minors (at any age)? Church and state have a vested interest to defend, protect and promote not just the norm, but also the truth. We must show compassion and kindness to those who disagree without compromising or diluting our principles.

    We must also stop equating persons with lifestyles. There are no 'gay' persons, only human persons. Human persons may have a homosexual or heterosexual inclination, but their personhood is not rooted, nor is it defined by, their sexuality. Men and women are made in the image and likeness of God, meaning that we are a union of body and soul. That soul has a rational intellect and a free will.

    A human being of the male gender has a right to marry a human female, but she cannot be his sister. Likewise, having more than one husband or wife is not tolerated by natural, divine or civil law (here in the U.S.). Placing some restrictions on marriage is for the common good of both Church and state. This does not deny human rights. Neither does restricting marriage to one man and one woman.

    This young man about to graduate is entitled to his graduation and to his scholarship, but the public platform that exists at a commencement is not an intrinsic right for anyone to use for their own agenda. Discretion would have served if the student were just given the scholarship and no publicity given to the foundation or its representatives.

Regarding homosexuality, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:
    Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that 'homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.' They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

    The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition. (2357–2358)
© Matt C. Abbott


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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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