The president of Creighton University missed the true meaning of Christ’s instruction to welcome all people, when he used that teaching as justification to offer employment benefits to same-sex partners of employees, writes Father Paul Scalia at The Catholic Thing.
In October, Father Timothy Lannon, SJ, president of Creighton, reportedly explained his decision as following the example of Christ: “I asked myself, what would Jesus do in this case? And I can only imagine Jesus being so welcoming of all people.”
But Fr. Scalia, chaplain to The Cardinal Newman Society and chairman of the Courage apostolate for men and women experiencing same-sex attraction, teaches that Christ’s hospitality means something much different than moral capitulation.
“To the world, the Gospel Welcome must appear odd indeed,” Fr. Scalia writes. “It is a welcome…to repentance. It is an invitation…to change of heart.”
The Welcoming Jesus line serves as a good trump card. Not to welcome – or not to appear welcoming – would therefore mean to disagree with Jesus. Of course, Jesus as “welcoming of all people” is not just a just a figment of Father [Lannon]’s imagination. Indeed, it is a profound reality. More real than many would like to consider. But providing benefits to those in a sinful lifestyle stretches the meaning of Christian welcome beyond the breaking point. All of which raises the question of what a Christian welcome means.
…And yet His welcome is somewhat curious. After all, He begins His public ministry with the word Repent! Not Welcome! He is not welcoming to those who are duplicitous or, more to the point, seeking to justify their own lives rather than adhere to His truth. His welcome requires a minimal acceptance of His truth. The Gospels tell us fairly often about His frustration with the crowds. And every so often it flairs up: “O faithless and perverse generation, how long will I be with you and endure you?” (Lk 9:41) “This generation is an evil generation. . .” (Lk 11:29)
…As much as we want to be welcome and invited, we also know that every invitation has expectations. Every welcome mat has also the understanding that we cannot do whatever we please when we walk through the door. “Many are invited, but few are chosen,” because not all shape their lives according to the invitation’s demands.
Fr. Scalia goes on to explain how Jesus “welcomes all who will repent, all who avail themselves of His forgiveness and healing – all who, acknowledging their sin and ignorance, embrace His grace and truth.”
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The Church, writes Fr. Scalia, “cannot empty that welcome of meaning, either by severity or by laxity.”
Following Fr. Lannon’s decision concerning same-sex benefits, Archbishop George Lucas of the Omaha Archdiocese released a statement in response, noting his disappointment and disagreement.
Reprinted with permission from The Cardinal Newman Society.