Controversy over Knight highlights L.G.B.T. tensions at Catholic colleges

CNS, Wikimedia Commons, iStock/Composite: AmericaCNS, Wikimedia Commons, iStock/Composite: America

Andrew Keyes, who will graduate from a picturesque Catholic college in New Hampshire on May 20, has been active in his faith as long as he can remember. So when he met members of the Knights of Columbus after enrolling at St. Anselm College, he immediately signed up. He rose through the ranks, committing himself to the Knights’ ideals of fraternity and service. When the council of his school’s chapter asked him to serve as its Grand Knight, he agreed.

Then, two months before graduation, at what should have been a time of celebration, he was told he must resign his post because of who accompanied him to a Knights of Columbus party.

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“A lot of the seniors knew I was bringing my boyfriend,” Mr. Keyes told America.

The episode is the latest in a years-long struggle for colleges and universities affiliated with the church to balance support for increasingly diverse student populations while adhering to church teaching, which holds that same-sex relations are sinful, even if identifying as gay or lesbian is not.

The episode is the latest in a years-long struggle for Catholic colleges to balance support for diverse student populations while adhering to church teaching.

According to Mr. Keyes, one student took issue with his decision to bring a male date to the party and reported the incident to the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus in New Haven, Conn., and to Benedict Guevin, O.S.B, the chapter’s chaplain.

Father Guevin asked Mr. Keyes to resign his post, citing the possible scandal he would cause by continuing to serve in leadership. In an email to America, Father Guevin said that scandal is “an action that can lead to confusion and doubt regarding the church’s teaching.”

The decision caused a stir on the small campus, shocking some in the student body who said the college is generally supportive of L.G.B.T. students. It has also led Mr. Keyes to question his place in the church.

Last month, the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., faced backlash from L.G.B.T. students after the organization Students for Child-Oriented Policy invited Daniel C. Mattson, the author of a controversial book about forsaking homosexuality, to speak on campus. In Why I Don’t Call Myself Gay: How I Reclaimed My Sexual Reality and Found Peace, Mr. Mattson describes his failed same-sex relationship and his current commitment to chastity and adherence to church teaching.

The decision shocked some in the student body who said the college is generally supportive of L.G.B.T. students.

Some students felt that some of Mr. Mattson’s claims are unsupported by science and fail to represent recent developments in the church’s attitude toward same-sex relationships. They wrote to the campus newspaper claiming the university was being hypocritical by calling its L.G.B.T students “beloved” while restricting them from inviting speakers with opinions that do not conform to the teachings of the church.

But advocates for L.G.B.T. Catholics say progress is being made.

The St. Anselm incident “goes against the trend of Catholic higher education,” said Francis DeBernardo, the executive director of New Ways Ministry. That organization, which says it is committed to reconciliation between the L.G.B.T. community and the Catholic Church, maintains a list of “gay-friendly colleges and universities.” St. Anselm is included on that webpage.

While other challenges remain for L.G.B.T. Catholics—dozens of church employees and volunteers have been fired for reasons related to their sexual orientation in recent years—Mr. DeBernardo told America that on Catholic campuses, L.G.B.T. students report feeling supported.

The St. Anselm incident “goes against the trend of Catholic higher education,” said Francis DeBernardo.

Last month, Marquette University in Milwaukee stood behind its L.G.B.T. students when a Catholic group called for the administration to cancel a “Pride Prom” event held on campus. Crux reported that the university supported the event and issued a statement saying the U.S. bishops have “expressed that there is no room for discrimination in the Catholic Church, and we will continue to make progress through inclusivity.”

In New Hampshire, Mr. Keyes believes his case went beyond his otherwise supportive campus and that Father Guevin was pressured by the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council to ask for the resignation.

But the Supreme Council disputes this, saying in a statement to America, “It is not our practice to make a determination on someone’s Catholicity” and “the Supreme Council did not direct the local chapter to take action on this issue.” For his part, Father Guevin acknowledged in an email that he reached out to the Supreme Council and was given the choice to do nothing or to ask for Mr. Keyes’s resignation.

Mr. Keyes agreed to resign but said he was surprised at the request because of what he was able to accomplish during his tenure.

Last month, Marquette University stood behind its L.G.B.T. students when a Catholic group called for the administration to cancel a “Pride Prom.”

“We started new initiatives this year,” he said, including increasing fundraising efforts and engaging with other student organizations. He said he is most proud of recruiting 12 new Knights, “the most we’ve recruited in recent years.”

Father Guevin echoes the Knights’ statement, saying Mr. Keyes’s sexuality—he identifies as bisexual—is not the problem. He maintained that the issue was not the role of L.G.B.T. persons in the church but student leaders scandalizing others by publicly opposing Catholic teaching.

“If Mr. Keyes were gay and private about it and kept his private life private, there would be no issue,” Father Guevin told the Hilltopper, a campus newspaper.

Despite the trend toward more inclusive college campuses, St. Anselm College students say this incident shows there is still work to be done.

“It’ll take a little while to get back to the faith and the church,” Mr. Keyes said, “but I’m still holding on.”

“There’s a lot of mixed feelings about Andrew being removed,” Kelsey Warner told America. Ms. Warner, a junior, is the president and founding member of True Equality and Dignity Alliance, the college’s first L.G.B.T. student organization. “It puts Catholic L.G.B.T.Q+ people in a difficult situation,” she said.

As for the college, it says the Knights operate as an independent entity and without campus oversight.

The administration said in a statement to America that the school “has no authority over action taken by its membership, the chapter chaplain or the organization’s national office.” The school has shown support for its students in other ways, including hosting an L.G.B.T. visibility day, attended by students, faculty and the president of the college, according to Ms. Warner.

Before the party, Mr. Keyes was an altar server and master of ceremonies at the campus church. But since he was forced to step down, Mr. Keyes said he was stripped of his responsibilities and he has not been scheduled to serve at Masses. He said he finds it a little painful to attend Mass with his peers and has not felt motivated to go since the incident.

As he looks forward to life after graduation, Mr. Keyes says he will not continue to be a member of the Knights of Columbus and hopes to find more welcoming Catholic communities.

“It’ll take a little while to get back to the faith and the church,” Mr. Keyes said, “but I’m still holding on.”

Correction: May 14, 2018
This piece stated incorrectly that the administration of Notre Dame invited Daniel C. Mattson to speak on campus. The author was invited by the student organization Students for Child-Oriented Policy.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Anne Danielson
3 months 1 week ago

I will Pray that Mr. Keyes will soon understand that it is out of Love and respect for all human persons that Holy Mother Church respects the Sanctity of the marital act, which is Life-affirming and Life-sustaining, and can only be consummated between a man and woman, united in marriage as husband and wife, and thus affirms the inherent Dignity of every beloved son and daughter by not affirming the equality of sexual acts and sexual relationships. One should never underestimate the value of a Loving friendship that serves only for the Good of oneself and the other, and is thus grounded in authentic Love.

Lee Bacchi
3 months 1 week ago

You do that, honey

Pancho Mulongeni
3 months 1 week ago

They got rules telling us what to do, but is anybody checking up on them?

Sandor Gyetvai
3 months 1 week ago

Who is 'They'? And is anyone checking up on you? This is a bit Circular right. The Church has defined the 'rules' as you call them, but most Catholics call them the teachings of the church, and we are ALL called to abide by them, including 'they', me, you etc....

Frank Elliott
3 months 1 week ago

Mr. Keyes doesn't idolize his own sexuality. He shouldn't bow down and idolize yours either. He should not live and die alone to honor your sacred vagina. Get lost.

James Haraldson
3 months 1 week ago

Your language says a great deal about your level of honorability.

dgoddu@tarfy.org
3 months 1 week ago

Precisely right Anne Danielson.

Peter Schwimer
3 months 1 week ago

So what we have is a barrow minded priest who assumes that he knows what Mr. Keyes does or does not do in private. "Who am I to judge?"

Stan Zorin
3 months 1 week ago

Exactly ! A recent case : a woman married her daughter and now both women are being prosecuted. Who are we to judge ???

Lee Bacchi
3 months 1 week ago

Apples and oranges, Stanley. You took the Pope's words out of context.

Michaelangelo Allocca
3 months 1 week ago

Sure, homosexuality, incest -- exactly the same. But you're not prejudiced, just compassionately concerned for the souls of your brothers and sisters

Helene Guilfoy
3 months 1 week ago

The scandal is the Church's refusal to accept ALL who wish to be a part of the Community.

Anne Danielson
3 months 1 week ago

There is no scandal. The Catholic Church accepts all sinners who desire to repent and accept Salvational Love, God's Gift of Grace And Mercy. The fact that there are those who profess to be Catholic but identify themselves according to sexual desire/inclination/orientation, in direct violation of God's Commandment regarding lust and the sin of adultery, illuminates the crux of the matter. We all have disordered inclinations of various types and degree; while it is not a sin to have a disordered inclination, it is a sin to not desire to overcome our disordered inclinations, and become transformed through Salvational Love, God's Gift of Grace and Mercy. It breaks my heart to think that any child would be bullied in the playground.

Michaelangelo Allocca
3 months 1 week ago

What I love is how conveniently you compassionate hand-wringing traditionalists forget that the sin of presumption is part of traditional Church teaching too, as is the sin of hypocrisy. The former is what you commit when you claim the single-handed ability to automatically label OTHERS as sinners based on a single self-chosen criterion; the latter, when you pretend to be heart-broken over actions that are encouraged by your bigoted attitudes. Your failure to notice that your homophobia aids and abets the playground bullies is an additional kind of moral blindness.

Anne Danielson
3 months 1 week ago

We should all be fearful of any act, including any sexual act, that demeans the inherent Dignity of our beloved sons and daughters. Regardless of our desires or inclinations, any act that does not respect the inherent Dignity of the human person as a beloved son or daughter, is not and can never be an act of authentic Love. How then, can anyone equate the desire to treat all persons with Dignity and respect in private as well as in public, with phobia?

Pancho Mulongeni
3 months 1 week ago

The issue is that LGBT people are denied sacramental marriage. Also, the idea of "sodomy" as gay sex dates to medieval times and is an invention of certain scholars in the Church, among them Peter Damian. It is hardly an essential element of the faith.

Sandor Gyetvai
3 months 1 week ago

Beautifully stated Anne, almost like the Jesuits of Old, back when they actually defended, promoted and taught the faith with Zeal and dedication. There are still a few good Jesuits left.

James Haraldson
3 months 1 week ago

Accepting all does not mean accepting all our sins.

arthur mccaffrey
3 months 1 week ago

don't we have a relation of equality here? RCC is free to teach its long-considered opinion about homosexual relations, and the young student is
free to choose his partners. Why the pressure to force one side to conform to the other? Does the young man want everyone to do what he does? So why should this article and everyone else blame the Church for not adapting, not conforming? Sounds like freedom is ok for the latest fad but not for long held positions. Sounds like a double standard to me.

Nora Bolcon
3 months 1 week ago

Or some people believed Jesus when he commanded all of his followers to treat all others as you would have them treat you.

Stan Zorin
3 months 1 week ago

@ Nora Bolcon - I do not understand where you head with your argument. Do you in fact say that 'anything goes' ?

arthur mccaffrey
3 months 1 week ago

No, I am saying it is possible to have reasoned, principled positions held by two different people, and that those positions can co-exist without one being automatically condemned because it doe not fit the current zeitgeist. The general trend in this article and in these comments is that one position must change, while the other is acceptable. Why the dogmatism?

Stan Zorin
3 months 1 week ago

You made yourself clear. My question was directed at Nora Bolcon.
Aside, there is a reason why women have always been kept from the legislative and the executive positions in the Catholic Church and in the so called Western societies. The women would have caused the downfall of the Church and of our civilisation because their soft hearts would had allowed any immoral behavior or sexual disorder, under the guise of alleviating human suffering and under the guise of "human rights". Just read comments of the majority of women on the America magazine fora. If anything is allowed, if there is no law and order, then the society will disintegrate. Since the women were given the right to vote, and since they were admitted to legislatures and government institutions, the Western civilisation started to decline, fatally. Its fall and our end is coming. The muslims will inherit the Earth.

Dolores Pap
3 months 1 week ago

" The women would have caused the downfall of the Church and of our civilisation because their soft hearts would had allowed any immoral behavior or sexual disorder"...That is the most condescending, misogynistic and patriarchal comment I've read in the longest time! And you wonder why young people don't line up to become members of organized religion?.BTW- do you know what the fastest growing religious affiliation is now?: 'NONE'..

Pancho Mulongeni
3 months 1 week ago

Hi Dolores, this is of course not surprising. I mean, as Professor Barbara Boswell at the WITS Unisversity stated, misogyny and control over women's bodies is the other side of the coin of anti-gay sentiments. This seems to be true for the African continent and even in my own country. But is this view of "soft hearts" not perpetuated by the notion that our Mother Mary dangles a rosary over the walls of heaven for all those who got bounced by St Peter?

michael slajchert
3 months 1 week ago

I was so hoping this was sarcasm. Sigh...

Eric Collins
3 months 1 week ago

Jesus also instituted the sacrament of marriage and affirmed it was to be between a man and a woman. He also said he came to fulfill the law, not set it aside.

Peter Muller
3 months 1 week ago

Thank you Eric. Your short but well chosen words demonstrate that it is better to highlight what is most appropriate, and therefore most applicable, from the scriptures -- which we are all supposed to be following as disciples of Christ, rather than cherry-picking what suits us, merely in order to disengage or to support our own inability to actually submit to the Lord's dictates in the gospel. Recognizing that which applies is to follow the context of the Lord's teaching, instead of distorting it.

Nora Bolcon
3 months 1 week ago

Well, here we go again. Why did this man join a group that refuses to let women be knights since no charity needs to be gender exclusive either. All gender exclusive clubs push misogyny and sexism, and even female ones often do. So how is this man not a hypocrite for joining and supporting a proudly sexist organization while seeking compassion for the discrimination and bias used against himself?

We need to dump the Knights from our church period. They are quite corrupt, as has come to light more and more lately and they use their influence in the church much like Opus Dei by pushing sexism and the continuation of controlling patriarchy over women.

We need to tell both these groups good bye if we ever hope to become like the church in Acts. One where faith is what matters most, not money, gender, race, sexual strengths or weaknesses, ethnicity, class, etc.

Rosemari Zagarri Prof
3 months 1 week ago

Agreed.

Stan Zorin
3 months 1 week ago

Nora, you are being sexist and racist when you say that the Catholic Church is sexist.

Eric Collins
3 months 1 week ago

By that rationale the Catholic Women’s League should also be abolished?

Peggy Ehling
3 months 1 week ago

So, let me get this right. This Knight brought a friend to a party and now everyone is assuming that he and his friend are engaging in “illicit” sexual acts and are scandalizing others in the community. It would be safe to assume then that no unmarried male-female friends attended the same party, because then the same assumptions would have been made about them and certainly the idea of a sexual relationship outside of marriage would be equally scandalous, right?
If you think that I have this wrong then I invite you to consider the Church’s insistence (not mere suggestion) that ALL forms of unjust discrimination are to be avoided.
If you do not assume that all heterosexual dating couples are having sex, then you CANNOT assume that all gay or lesbian couples are. That is discrimination and it is unfair and unjust and, dare I say it, unChristian. Not mention being a bigger cause of scandal than this young man and his date attending a party together.

Robert Lewis
3 months 1 week ago

PRECISELY! And it demonstrates that the REAL position of the Roman Catholic hierarchy is that gay folks need to "stay in the closet." Note THIS: "... If Mr. Keyes were gay and private about it and kept his private life private..." What is being recommended here is secrecy, because there is, as you note, no indication whatsoever that Mr. Keyes was bringing a sexual partner to the meeting. I personally support the Church's position regarding homosexual genital contact, but I positively reject the notion that gays and lesbians have to remain in the shadows in our churches and parishes. If you go online to find a chapter of "Courage" in your local city or town, all you will find are "resources" and the name of a priest to contact, indicating a tacit recommendation by Church authorities that you remain in the closet and simply contact the priest for confession and/or counseling; whereas, if you google your local "Dignity" chapter, you will find a calendar of social events and community services. While they shed crocodile tears over the persecution by homophobes of gays and lesbians, the hierarchy urge "conversion therapy" and the secrecy of the closet upon those "same-sex-attracted" Catholic men and women who love the Church sufficiently to agree to live a lie.

Ellen B
3 months 1 week ago

Great comment.

The priest had the option of pursuing or not. That he chose to do it two months before graduation & create the very situation they had supposedly wanted to avoid... head shaking.

Chris Vogel
3 months 1 week ago

Conflict here arises because Roman educational institutions have seen their objective to be indoctrination, rather than education. Indeed, anything that might properly called education is antithetical to religious faith, because education means paying attention to reality, and impairs the ability of conservatives to practice their usual inclinations to arrogance, vanity, malice, willful ignorance and childish self-indulgence.

Stan Zorin
3 months 1 week ago

Chris, this is for your education - the "Roman educational institutions" ceased to exist some 1500 years ago when the Western Roman Empire had disintegrated.
You are right that "properly called education" is antithetical to religious faith, because education means "paying attention to reality". Just look at the sorry history of the Catholic Church. In the 16th century the properly uneducated majority of Catholics refused to accept the reality of new thinking, which was inspired by the arguments of wise Jewish rabbis, and thus refused to become Protestant religious revolutionaries. In the succeeding centuries the uneducated hierarchy of the Church refused to accept the reality of spread of occult teachings of Freemasonry, which were also inspired by the teachings of wise rabbis, and refused to become Freemasons. In the 19-20 centuries the backward and uneducated Catholic Church missed the boat of reality, which was the international communist movement. The Church did not accept teachings of Marxism-Leninism and thus missed becoming a progressive institution. In the 20th century the uneducated Church did not accept the reality of the national socialist revolution in Germany and thus, unfortunately, did not accept Adolf Hitler as being the modern prophet of God. The uneducated Church missed the chance of becoming a part of either the Jewish international socialist [communist] movement or of the German national socialist [nazi] movement. All educated people see this as a tragedy for the Church. What could have been !
The Church keeps being uneducated. It obstinately refused to accept communist tyranny, then nazi tyranny and now, it seems, it refuses to o accept LGBT tyranny. It is exasperating 1 When will the Church get educated and accept whatever wind of political ideology or whatever philosophy of society, even if transient and even if degenerate or insane ? We should believe in reality and not in "religious dogmas". 'Whatever goes' should be our motto.

Bill Niermeyer
3 months 1 week ago

So thankful that other Christian denominations welcome and accept gays and do not judge.

Bill Niermeyer
3 months 1 week ago

John 6: 37.

Anthony Noble
3 months 1 week ago

"Judge a tree by the fruits it bears". It's ironic that a model Catholic who had been doing outstanding service for the Knights would be disrespected after all the selfless, Christian work he did. No Christian Love was demonstrated by this action. Many Catholics, I believe guided by the Holy Spirit, are looking anew at LGBT issues within the Church just as Catholics reevaluated the Church's position on slavery. The Church's position, penned in the 1970's & 1980's, do not reflect the social and natural sciences, as well as the lived experiences of gay men and lesbians. God does not create a person intrinsically morally disordered. Nor can a morally disordered person share God's Love selflessly to the community or to give Love fully to another in matrimony. Gay men and lesbians show God's Love everyday in their communities, with their spouses, and to their children, if they have them. The Epistles did not know of sexual orientation per se but referenced celibacy as the norm for Christians - marriage was condoned as a means to prevent fornication. Catholic teaching on sexuality has evolved to include the gift of unitive, or the loving, bond within marriage. This unitive love needs to be recognized in same sex marriages as well. As Catholic members of the LGBT community come out and are recognized for their love, joy, talents, and devotion to God, people see the Love of God reflected in their lives. Again, "Judge a tree by the fruits it bears ".

Alice Pat
3 months 1 week ago

Well put.

Stan Zorin
3 months 1 week ago

Tony, are progressive people like you ready to reevaluate pedophilia ?? The American Psychiatric Association is ready. It is the same institution which not long ago reevaluated homosexual behavior and then declared it to be NOT a sexual disorder but a "lifestyle". This body of professionals is now ready to reevaluate pedophilia. Arguments are already circulating. It is just the beginning, it will take years but the movement for the liberation of pedophiles will arise, like the movement for the liberation of sexually disordered LGBT people arose, and we will see arrogant pedophiles on these fora, like we see arrogant LGBT propagandists and promoters now. So, are you ready for another blast of "human rights" ?

Frank Elliott
3 months 1 week ago

I once knew someone like you would Jesuit high school in New Orleans. His name was Robin Hanneman, I met him in the eighth grade standing in the back of history class watching or should I say peering at an 8mm Tape of two men buggering each other . He constantly persecuted another boy named Steven whom he called a “faggot”. I took pity on Steven not knowing what the word meant. Robin spread the rumor that we were having sex with each other. Because of that I spent five years of degradation at a Jesuit high school. I’ve learned to abhor the church because no priest did anything about it. No priest had the courage to defend Stephen Stephe I took pity on Steven not knowing what the word meant. Robin spread the rumor that we were having sex with each other. Because of that I spent five years of degradation at a Jesuit high school. I’ve learned to abhor the church because no priest did anything about it. No priest had the courage to defend Stephen. In fact many were raping our classmates.

several years later I met Robin with his new wife and I overheard her asking her husband why I look so much older. The truth is I’ve had cancer five times. She blamed it on my “lifestyle“. I decided not to tell her about what Robin Hanneman really likes, what he really wants. I figured she deserves to find out on her own.

Anthony Noble
3 months 1 week ago

Stan,
Based on your comments, you've shown yourself to be just a sad, angry, ignorant troll.

Dolores Pap
3 months 1 week ago

Beautifully stated..

Frank Elliott
3 months 1 week ago

He should be happy he learned late in life that the Church hates him. Try learning this at twelve.
He should count himself lucky that he learned this at a time when he can support himself.

Michael Seredick
3 months 1 week ago

As a child playing on my parochial school playground at recess, I bullied the boys my crowd identified as 'queers.' I ask forgiveness for that sin. As an adult, I have known and respected countless numbers of people who are different than my sexuality. I'll let God Almighty decide. Keep in mind, MICHELANGELO was a gay person. It's a good thing he got the Sistine Chapel painted before 2018. Finally, after I read this article, I noticed the next topic - "Chilean bishops set to meet with Pope Francis in response to the "SEXUAL ABUSE CRISIS." God Almighty will decide.

Eric Styles
3 months 1 week ago

EDITORS: The article says the University of Notre Dame invited Daniel Mattson to speak, implying the Administration. That’s inaccurate. Students for Child Oriented Policy (SCOP), a student organization, and the Irish Rover an independent (and more conservative) newspaper invited him. Of course there was controversy and some students wrote an opinion piece in the Observer, the larger independent paper. Seems to me like a good opportunity for discussion amongst students. But it’s important to note that the Administration was not directly involved. I hope you correct this in your article.

Antonin Petrov
3 months 1 week ago

You know, I remember thinking that when people told me just how disgustingly evil the modern Jesuits and their supporters were, I just thought they were exaggerating. I was wrong. All of these comments exclaiming that the Church did wrong for rejecting, not only an active, unrepentant homosexual, but one who had actually had the gall to bring his degenerate, sodomite boyfriend to his ceremony? You're all traitors. All of you. Traitors to God and his Church.

Peter Muller
3 months 1 week ago

Antonin, it sadly just goes to show that heresies are not a new phenomenon, and that apparently they will always beset the Church. Those of us who can should endeavor to uphold her teachings, and in that way maintain a church which those in the future will be seeking out — and will desperately need to have as their refuge — in a society that will likely be even worse than it is now. All of this will pass, since corruption is like a flame that will consume its host completely... in the end, the only triumph always belongs to the Good.

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