Hussein’s Journey: A Response to Father James Martin, by Janet E. Smith

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COMMENTARY: A Catholic campus should offer truth scientifically, psychologically, sociologically and theologically.

By Janet E. Smith, National Catholic Register, 2/28/20

Janet E. Smith, Ph.D., is a moral theologian.


Jesuit Father James Martin, in his address to the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, made a number of proposals about how Catholic campuses should care for “LGBT people” and begins by telling the story of the experiences on a Catholic campus of a young Muslim woman who identifies as lesbian. Father Martin built on that experience to lobby for “accepting everyone for who they are” and for establishing “LGBT” support centers on campus.

Father Martin’s approach sells short both the Church and young people. Here, I will sketch out a different possible scenario on a Catholic campus.

Hussein, a Muslim, enrolled at a Catholic college because it had a strong pre-med program. At the invitation of one of his classmates, he attended some events at the campus ministry center, where the priest and staff were welcoming and willing to engage the students in discussing any issues that came up. They drew upon a remarkable set of coherent principles in reference to the assessment of any issue — rights of immigrants, homosexual marriages, even the beliefs of other religions.

As appealing as the atmosphere was at the center and as accepted as Hussein felt there, being at college could still be lonely. He often felt left out because some of the guys in his dorm were so focused on girls — “This one is hot; that one is hotter.” Disturbingly, he found he wished they were talking about him — but not in a homosexual way. Indeed, he had for some time thought that he was meant to be a female — that he had been born in the wrong body.  ….?

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