A Beautiful Cross, A Hurtful Message?

Published 4 weeks ago - 1


By Maggie Buckley, Editor-in-Chief

“I don’t want this,” said Catholic Emmanuel Gonzalez in the 5th grade upon discovering he had same-sex attractions. 

This sense of dismay was a result of the Church’s teaching regarding the LGBTQ community, with the then-adolescent concerned that he would go to hell because he was attracted to men.

Because of this discord, Gonzalez later went on to abandon his religion in order to act on these attractions, as he shared with Assumption University students in a Zoom meeting entitled “What a Beautiful Cross.”

The meeting, which took place on Thursday, October 21st, is the third installment in a series planned by Deborah Cady Melzer and Deacon Paul Covino centered around the inclusion of those in the LGBTQ community in combination with the Catholic faith.

The role of religion in Gonzalez’s life once again took to the forefront when he shared he heard God’s voice calling him as though he were the prodigal son.  In his return to the Church, the young man vowed to quit abusing substances, as well as renounce his identity as a gay man.

In an email correspondence, Cady Melzer shared that Gonzalez’s “message, conveyed through his own journey, relayed Church teachings that emphasize providing a welcoming and supportive community for our LGBTQIA+ members and shared Church teachings on marriage.”

However, upon hearing the perspective Gonzalez offered, which implied that his sexual orientation and faith could not coexist if his attractions were acted upon, many students disagreed.

“I was extremely angry and disgusted,” noted one student who requested to remain anonymous.  Having this speaker “makes me feel that the administration does not care about the LGBTQ+ students.”

Jada Fong, the Vice President of AU Allies, shared that she was distraught after hearing the content of the webinar.

“I didn’t know what to do with myself,” she said. “I had to go to my RA and I cried with her for about two hours.”

Though many felt simply disrespected by the words of the speaker, one student shared an empathetic perspective.

“I felt sorry for Manny,” Nick Sposato, a senior, wrote in a statement. “Being gay and acting on your same-sex attractions doesn’t damage your relationship with God; both types of relationships can exist at once.”

Although students see the effort administration is putting in towards addressing wrongs, according to Fong, with this seminar, “the execution was not there.”

However, this is not the first time Assumption University’s administration has upset members of the LGBTQ community.

Though not confirmed by the administration, this series is rumoured to be a response to the offenses committed against this community during the 2020-2021 academic year.

On October 19th, 2020, Assumption students were sent an article titled “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” in which homosexual relationships were defined as “violations of human dignity.”

These incendiary words caused outrage among students, which resulted in the Assumption President Cesareo citing the University’s responsibility to treat everyone with respect while still showcasing the teachings of the Catholic Church.  Many students lobbied for an apology, but none came.

Indeed, a similar comment came in an email from Cady Melzer in which she quoted the need to “seek an understanding of many perspectives, particularly the Catholic perspective.”  

Though she hoped this talk would solidify the University’s efforts towards a more inclusive environment, one student disclosed “I’ve felt unsafe on this campus for a while.”

With regard to moving forward, both students and administrators seek further dialogue with one another, as they acknowledge it is the only way to truly create an inclusive environment on campus.

Though hurt by the efforts put forth by the administration, one student shared that there has been a glimmer of light in the midst of the darkness.

“I have also seen a lot of students who aren’t part of the LGBTQ+ community show their allyship. It’s been great.”

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