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Notre Dame University Accused of Being Anti-LGBT, Faces Backlash For Hosting Ex-Gay Speaker

Notre Dame is facing a huge backlash for hosting author Dan Mattson, an ex-gay speaker on chastity.

In March, Mattson was invited to Notre Dame to affirm same-sex attracted people find healing and fulfillment by faithfully living out the teachings of the Church.

Sponsored by campus group Students for Child-Oriented Policy (SCOP), Mattson’s talk, “Same-Sex Attraction and Catholicism,” traced his embrace of the Faith and subsequent journey out of the gay lifestyle.

In Mattson’s lecture, he emphasized how Catholic teaching awakened him to the “transformative nature of God’s love.”

In a recent interview Mattson stated:

The idea of there being “homosexuals” and “heterosexuals” had never before been conceived when these terms were made up in 1862. From those words, you had to make people to fit those words. New words continue to be invented, and it does reach a level of absurdity. We’re following the course of Descartes, I think therefore I am, and Nietzsche, I will myself to be this way.

We have to see things clearly as they are and give them their right names; we’re experiencing a new Tower of Babel: come, let us make a name for ourselves. You may consider yourself “gay” or “bisexual” or “pansexual” or something else; what you’re really doing is taking on the name of God and declaring “I am what I am.” This litany of sexual identities is a form of idolatry and a rebellion against God.”

In an April 6 op-ed for university newspaper The Observer,  slammed Mattson of painting a “repressive picture of sexuality.”

“Does Notre Dame Fear the Queers?” the article stated and also pointed that Mattson’s lecture had “no basis in biological, psychological or sociological sciences.” and that hi talk was just “his interpretation” of Catholic doctrine.

To justify their position, they pointed to a body of heterodox German, Austrian and Swiss theologians.

Despite Mattson’s confidence in his interpretation of Catholic doctrine, it would appear that actual theologians are not totally in agreement. This is demonstrated in Church 2011, a memorandum signed by 260 Catholic theologians, which advocates for greater acceptance of same-sex relationships. It argues that the Church’s teachings do “not require the exclusion of people who responsibly live out love, faithfulness and mutual care in same-sex partnerships.”

The Observer also claimed that Notre Dame is unsympathetic to students who dissent from Church teaching on homosexuality.

This group “is not allowed to speak out against current Catholic doctrine on LGBT,” they wrote. “Notre Dame has persistently smothered such efforts of student expression.”

Over the past 10 years Notre Dame has been repeatedly accused of anti-LGBT sentiment including the invitation to VP Mile Pence in 2017 to speak at the schools graduation commencement which prompted over 100 students to walk out in protest. 

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Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, journalist and owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story,

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