Hilary White

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Legion of Mary kicked off Irish campus for promoting chastity apostolate

Hilary White
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GALWAY, Ireland, December 6, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A student group associated with a popular Catholic lay apostolate has apologized for distributing literature from the Courage Community, an international Catholic organization that assists those who wish to leave the homosexual lifestyle.

The Legion of Mary, founded in Dublin in the early 20th century to help women escape prostitution, was “suspended” by the student’s union when they distributed the leaflets at The National University of Ireland, Galway.

The flyers, posted to bulletin boards around the campus, challenged homosexual readers to “move beyond the confine of the homosexual label to a more complete identity in Christ." They enjoined students to “develop an interior life of chastity, which is the universal call to all Christians."

In perhaps an unconscious irony, the student union issued a statement citing the university’s dedication to a “pluralist ethos” as the motivation for shutting the Catholic initiative down.

The decision came, they said, after a review of the Legion’s action in light of the university’s “code of conduct and policies governing harassment and Irish and European equality law." Immediately after the decision the group, which had been granted “temporary” status on campus, was excised from the student union’s website.

Societies Chairperson at the University, Patrick O’Flaherty, told media that they had received about 70 complaints from people upset by the flyers.

The campus Legion of Mary group issued a statement following the suspension saying “it was not their intention to offend or upset any person or group of people."

This was followed by a brief statement, published by the Irish Times, from the parent group of the Legion of Mary in Dublin who said they “knew nothing” about the initiative or the Courage Community, adding they have had no contact with the group at NUI Galway.

The Times also published a statement from Fr. Sean McHugh, communications officer with the Catholic diocese of Galway who said that although the call to “live a chaste life” is “part of Christian teaching,” the poster’s slogan, “I’m a child of God. Don’t call me gay!” was “offensive."

Padraig Reidy, a senior writer and researcher for the Index on Censorship, a free speech group, said in the UK’s Daily Telegraph that the university has failed a basic “test of freedom of speech."

The point is not whether anyone agrees or disagrees with what the Legion wanted to offer students, Reidy said. “The issue at stake here is that they have peacefully put forward their views, without threat or abuse, and have still been punished.”

The Courage Community, he noted, has nothing to do with “gay conversion therapy." Instead, the flyers’ message, “while it may not be supported by the majority of Irish Catholics, is hardly extreme."

“It’s in fact a straight-down-the-line Catholic position” to offer assistance to people seeking to live a chaste, Christian life. Instead, the university, in a regional stronghold of Catholicism, in a majority Catholic country, had “banned” the possibility of a specifically Catholic approach to homosexuality.

“We are in a curious position,” Reidy wrote, “where a non-violent, non-intimidatory message from an orthodox Catholic position has been banned from a university campus. Without a trace of irony, the university claims that it is ‘committed to protecting the liberty and equality of all students.'”

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