Catholic College Alumni Unhappy With School’s Publicizing of Catholic Teaching on Marriage

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More than 600 students and alumni at a Catholic college in Worcester are expressing outrage that the chaplain’s office of the school sent out an email message expressing support for Catholic teaching on same-sex marriage.

The group is threatening to withhold donations to the school unless school officials apologize and hire staff members dedicated to making homosexual and transgender students feel welcome on campus.

Earlier this week the Campus Ministry office of Assumption University, which is sponsored by the Augustinian religious order, sent out by email excerpts from a document issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.

The excerpts address government policies. They offer some positions that align with left-of-center causes — such as providing a “path to citizenship” for illegal immigrants, offering debt relief for the governments of poor countries, and advancing what the document calls “economic justice.”

The excerpts also include policies that align with right-of-center causes, such as ending abortion and assisted suicide and promoting religious freedom for health care workers who object to certain practices on moral grounds.

An excerpt on marriage and gender identity drew the ire of some students and alumni. It states as one of the goals:


Protect the fundamental understanding of marriage as the life-long and faithful union of one man and one woman as the central institution of society; promote the complementarity of the sexes and reject false “gender” ideologies; provide better support for family life morally, socially, and economically, so that our nation helps parents raise their children with respect for life, sound moral values, and an ethic of stewardship and responsibility.


An online letter representing protesting students and alumni expresses “disappointment, sadness, and anger” at the email communication from Campus Ministry, as well as “frustration and exhaustion.”

“We write today to say, with pride, that love is love,” the letter states.

The letter takes issue with the national Catholic bishops’ document, which the letter says “blatantly indicates that same-sex marriage and ‘false’ gender ideologies are not institutionally moral.”

That the university would endorse such statements “is appalling, though not surprising,” the letter states – though it also says the statements are “contradictory to Assumption’s mission and the values that are preached from the admissions cycle through commencement.”

“LGBTQIA+ students” at Assumption are “may not be the loudest students on campus as they are consistently silenced by messages of heteronormativity,” the letter states, adding that they “are bright minds in the classroom” and “pieces of the Assumption community.”

The letter does not directly address Catholic teaching on human sexuality or marriage.

It does refer to Pope Francis. The protesters’ letter is dated Monday, October 19, two days before Pope Francis’s comments endorsing civil unions for same-sex couples were publicized worldwide. But it quotes a comment made by the pope last month.

“… Assumption has aligned itself with the ideology that same-sex marriage is detrimental to family life and living a life of moral values. These sentiments are contradictory to Pope Francis’ statement on September 17, 2020 in which he says, ‘God loves your children as they are,’ “ the letter states.

The online letter had 677 signers as of 3 p.m. Saturday, October 24. About 78 percent of them (531 of the 677) were either current students or graduates since 2012, suggesting they are 30 years old or younger. Only seven of the signers graduated before 2000.

A memo from the university’s president quoted by, which reported the story Wednesday, October 23, expresses sympathy for the protesters but neither endorses Church teaching nor apologizes for the Campus Ministry email communication.

“This week’s excerpt focused on a variety of topics. We acknowledge the perspectives of some members of the community who found certain aspects of this week’s text from the USCCB offensive,” Assumption president Francesco C. Cesareo wrote, according to “Assumption University is an institution of Catholic liberal education. Our mission includes both educating students about the teachings of the Catholic Church and treating the members of the LGBTQ community and all members of our community, each made in the image and likeness of God, with dignity, respect and compassion.

The president’s memo continues:  “The University maintains its commitment to providing the campus community a welcoming and open environment, in which individuals are free to engage in reasonable and serious dialogue.”