Gay Students Want To Oust Catholic Priest for Following Church Teachings
Two gay seniors at George Washington University (GWU) have initiated a coordinated campaign to ban Father Greg Schaffer, the Catholic chaplain, from the campus. Seniors Damian Legacy and Blake Bergen say they can no longer tolerate what they describe as Schaffer’s anti-homosexual and anti-abortion beliefs. In addition, the students claim that Schaffer’s encouragement that gay students lead a celibate lifestyle upsets them.
Catholic News Agency (CNA) reports that Legacy and Bergen asserted that Schaffer’s statements about homosexuality, consistent with Catholic teaching, are unacceptable and, as a result, have launched a campaign to force him off the campus. The campus newspaper indicates that the two students have filed a formal complaint with the administration and are holding a vigil outside the GWU Newman Center until the priest is removed from the campus.
Legacy, who is now a priest in the schismatic Old Catholic Church, submitted a report to GWU administration regarding the proper vetting of campus religious leaders and plans to request that the Student Association defund the Newman Center.
Students and parishioners of Schaffer’s, however, are rallying around him.
“I have never seen Fr. Greg be less than compassionate to any student on an issue of sexuality,” said Dawn Eden, Catholic author and speaker. “He’s been instrumental in helping them to find healing in Christ.”
Eden added that participation in Catholic life “shot up exponentially” since Schaffer’s arrival at the GWU Newman Center in 2009.
CNA reports that both current and past Newman Center students have voiced their support of Schaffer, and have argued against the attempt of Legacy and Bergen to penalize him for upholding the teachings of the Catholic faith. Bloggers posting on “The Chaplain We Know,” described Schaffer as “self-sacrificing” and “encouraging,” as well as instrumental in their conversions back to the Catholic faith.
One blogger posted, “The kindness and unconditional affection he expressed was what gave me the strength to realize that I was loved despite my mistakes.”
Eden said that if Catholics are looking for “someone to rally behind” in order to tell the culture where they stand, Fr. Schaffer is “a good and holy priest” worthy of such support.
“We need to stand up for a Catholic priest who is true to his vocation and who is promoting and defending the Gospel for the good of souls,” Eden said.
Catholic League president Bill Donohue has referred to the campaign launched by Legacy and Bergen as a “serious civil issue” that should be the subject of a “campus wide discussion on the meaning of the First Amendment.”