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Pope’s Name Cited . . . Creighton University Extends Same-Sex Benefits

November 17, 2014 Frontpage No Comments

By DEXTER DUGGAN

Pope Francis’ name was cited as a factor for Omaha’s Creighton University recently extending health benefits to same-sex “spouses” of university employees.
In a letter to the well-known Midwest Catholic university’s board of trustees, the president of the Jesuit institution, Fr. Timothy Lannon, SJ, acknowledged that the Omaha archbishop opposed the move.
“I have notified Archbishop George Lucas of Omaha of my decision, acknowledging his disagreement and disapproval of such a decision based upon a previous conversation he and I had,” Lannon wrote.
“Consequently, the decision was not made lightly,” Lannon wrote the trustees. “After much prayer and discernment, I believe the extension of benefits is the right thing to do at Creighton. The decision involves the tension between the Church’s teaching on same-sex marriage and social-justice concerns for the care and well-being of our colleagues’ families.”
The Jesuit official’s position elevates his concept of “social justice” above Catholic teaching. It’s not an unusual dodge among liberal clergy who place their priority on “political correctness” and left-wing orthodoxies.
In a story posted October 28, the major local newspaper, the Omaha World-Herald, reported:
“Lannon said the idea began to take root after Pope Francis took a different tone on gays in the church. He said he discussed it with campus leaders for a year before making the decision. Though he largely heard agreement on campus — Lannon said the university’s benefits committee approved it unanimously — Archbishop George Lucas was firmly opposed.”
Orthodox Catholics around the world have been concerned when statements emanate from the Vatican during the current pontificate that lack clarity or are capable of being misinterpreted by “progressives” more than ready to do so.
It’s like the 21st century’s version of citing the “Spirit of Vatican II” in the 20th century. Whenever clerical leftists wanted to impose their personal vision of what that Church council in the 1960s decided, they’d say their aberrations and misinterpretations were simply being true to a larger although not explicit “spirit” of the council or of the late Pope John XXIII, who convened Vatican II.
The World-Herald story cited dissenter theologian Daniel Maguire as also invoking Pope Francis’ name:
“Pope Francis has softened the collective Catholic mood about same-sex relationships in the last year, Maguire said. ‘The Jesuits are listening,’ he said.”
An ambiguous, pliable “collective Catholic mood” that opposes Church teaching would be familiar in the dubious tradition of longtime dissenters like Maguire who did their best to rewrite Vatican II.
In a statement released October 27, Omaha Archbishop Lucas said:
“I am disappointed in Fr. Lannon’s announcement that Creighton University will extend health-care benefits to same-sex spouses of employees who have attempted marriage in states where this practice is legal. I disagree with the decision. Despite Fr. Lannon’s claim that this is not a statement of approval of same-sex marriages, this is precisely the message that the university is giving.
“I am dismayed that the recommendation of the University Benefits Committee is thought to supersede divine law regarding marriage. There is no tension between Catholic teaching and social justice. Both are grounded in the same truths about the nature of the human person, the complementarity of man and woman, and the meaning of human life and love,” Lucas continued.
“When we experience tension in ensuring respect and just treatment for all persons, including those with same-sex attraction, we have a right to expect a Catholic university to help us see a just path forward, rooted in faith and founded on the rich Catholic intellectual tradition. Creighton has failed to fulfill this expectation in this expansion of benefits,” the archbishop said.
In his letter to the trustees, Lannon said, “Many other Catholic universities, including 21 of the 28 Jesuit universities in the U.S., have done the same” in extending benefits.
Lannon used language familiar among secular supporters of “same-sex marriage” that equated sexual disorientation with traditional marriage as simply a good business move, regardless of proven Church teaching or widely recognized moral truths.
“This decision not only reflects a commitment to our colleagues, but our ongoing commitment to health and wellness,” Lannon wrote. “It is important in today’s competitive workplace environment that values fairness and equal treatment and is consistent with our efforts to foster an inclusive, compassionate, and respectful campus environment.
“Many major employers in the Omaha area as well as the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and the College of St. Mary all offer these benefits to their colleagues,” the Jesuit priest wrote.
As if political correctness, liberal pieties, and the name of Pope Francis weren’t sufficient authorization for his move, Lannon decided to bring in the name of a certain very well-known Church figure.
The World-Herald quoted him: “I asked myself, what would Jesus do in this case? And I can only imagine Jesus being so welcoming of all people.”
Those who weren’t being so welcomed, of course, were orthodox Catholics, people who’d say they were faithful followers of Jesus.
The Omaha newspaper cited Regina Heywood, described as a local Catholic who favors the archbishop’s stand and thinks Creighton’s move leads to confusion among Catholics.
“She said Catholic schools that offer such benefits should not call themselves Catholic,” the World-Herald reported. “She said Creighton’s decision reflects the country’s ‘sad state of political correctness’.”
The article also noted that the bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind., Kevin Rhoades, objected when the University of Notre Dame extended same-sex benefits earlier in October.
In part, Rhoades’ statement said: “The heterosexual nature of marriage is an objective truth known by [right] reason and revelation. As a Catholic university, it is important that Notre Dame continues to affirm its fidelity to Catholic teaching on the true nature of marriage as a union of one man and one woman.
“I have communicated to Notre Dame my conviction that this affirmation should also include efforts to defend the religious liberty of our religious institutions that is threatened in potentially numerous ways by the legal redefinition of marriage, including the government forcing our Catholic institutions to extend any special benefits we afford to actual marriage to same-sex ‘marriage’ as well. I have asked the Notre Dame administration to work together with the Indiana Catholic Conference on these efforts.”

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