A Victory for Catholic Beliefs at a Catholic College
Catholic students can still be Catholic at Georgetown University. That’s basically what the school’s Student Activities Commission decided Thursday evening in all its benevolence. The commission ruled that the pro-family, pro-chastity student organization Love Saxa could retain its status as a recognized campus group despite efforts to have it labeled a “hate group” and essentially disbanded.
To be sure, there have been plenty of outlandish stories of efforts to tamp down on unpopular student speech and expression emanating from America’s campuses of late. Reports of faculty put in neck braces, of lectures and classes shut down or cancelled due to student rioters, and of raucous clashes instigated by campus mobs have all cast a sort of neo-Dark Ages pall on our schools and universities.
But the Love Saxa kerfuffle caught the nation’s attention in a particular way because it is a student group that espouses Catholic teaching being threated on the campus of the oldest Catholic institution of higher learning in the United States. It begs the question: If Catholics can’t even express their Catholic views at a Catholic school, where can they?
The church has long stood stalwart against the sexual revolution and its empty promises of liberation, especially for women. The costs of the sexual revolution are especially stark on today’s college campuses, which CNBC recently called “the most dangerous place in America for women.” On-campus housing, about 90 percent of which is co-ed nationwide, is the most likely place a college woman will experience sexual assault. Young college men and women are sold a bed of lies, quite literally, that teach that casual hook-ups are somehow the great equalizer.
But groups like Love Saxa, one of many chapters of its parent organization, The Love and Fidelity Network, are a testament to the reality that young people today are yearning for something better. The men and women who form these groups are hardly looking for culture war. To describe them as hateful is almost laughable.
To the contrary, the students in groups like Love Saxa are grasping for love. The respectful, committed, monogamous love that seems so elusive to a generation that has grown up in broken homes and been force-fed a diet of entertainment including “Girls” and “Fifty Shades of Grey.” They are men and women who want to go on dates and who dare to dream of finding someone to have and to hold for a lifetime.
These are the audacious aspirations of the students in groups like Love Saxa. They are young men and women who haven’t given up hope in what the church has long taught is the ultimate human safe space: the family. Incidentally, the church also teaches that it is family where we learn to be tolerant of others.
Or as Pope Francis put it, family is “where we learn to live with others despite our differences.”
“In the family,” he said before the 2015 World Meeting of Families, “we realize that others have preceded us, they made it possible for us to exist and, in our turn, to generate life and to do something good and beautiful. We can give because we have received. This virtuous circle is at the heart of the family’s ability to communicate among its members and with others. More generally, it is the model for all communication.”
One prominent Catholic priest who has written extensively about respectful communication in the marriage and gender debates, Fr. James Martin, defended the group and asked, “Why should a student group that espouses Catholic teaching respectfully be defunded by a Catholic university?”
It’s an embarrassing question. And it defines the challenge of today’s young people, who know all too well that it is up to us to claw our way through the cultural sands in order to build something lasting, on solid ground. The students at Love Saxa and groups like it around the country should be commended for refusing to give up their struggle. There is none greater.