Archbishop Aquila issues letter to Regis University community

Denver Catholic Staff

The Archdiocese of Denver and Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila have issued the below letter in response to recent reports of the Provost of Regis University promoting teaching practices and urging faculty support for gender fluidity. These actions were not approved by the archdiocese and they do not conform with the teachings of the Catholic Church.

November 13, 2018

Dear Regis University community and all concerned faithful,

It recently came to my attention that Provost Janet Houser is using her position of influence to advance gender ideology in several ways at Regis University that conflict with the Catholic faith.

These efforts were detailed in an October 29th email to faculty members from Provost Houser and the Queer Resource Alliance (ORA). The provost and QRA’s guidance includes encouraging faculty to attend a student drag show, not using gender-specific pronouns in class, avoiding phrases that reinforce the gender binary, such as “ladies and gentlemen,” assigning texts from “queer, and especially transgender, authors,” and warning teachers not to take attendance using the official roster, since this might involve accidentally using a student’s “dead name.”

Some of the lay faithful of the archdiocese have brought this matter to my attention, since as Archbishop it is my responsibility to ensure that Catholic institutions maintain their Catholic identity. I want you to know that Regis University never discussed any of these initiatives with me or my staff, and that this guidance is not in conformity with the Catholic faith, despite the attempts made to justify it as rooted in Jesuit values.

On the contrary, Pope Francis has repeatedly decried the promotion of gender fluidity as a type of ideological colonization. Speaking to the bishops of Poland in 2016, he said, “In Europe, America, Latin America, Africa, and in some countries of Asia, there are genuine forms of ideological colonization taking place. And one of these – I will call it clearly by its name – is [the ideology of] ‘gender.’ Today children – children! – are taught in school that everyone can choose his or her sex. Why are they teaching this?”

I echo the Holy Father’s question. Why is Regis University promoting and teaching an ideology that is contrary to what we know from the Scriptures? In Genesis we read, “God created mankind in his image … male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:27).

In Amoris Laetitia 56, the Holy Father addresses the errors of this ideology in greater detail. He wrote, “Yet another challenge is posed by the various forms of an ideology of gender that ‘denies the difference and reciprocity in nature of a man and a woman and envisages a society without sexual differences, thereby eliminating the anthropological basis of the family. This ideology leads to educational programmes and legislative enactments that promote a personal identity and emotional intimacy radically separated from the biological difference between male and female. Consequently, human identity becomes the choice of the individual, one which can also change over time.’ It is a source of concern that some ideologies of this sort, which seek to respond to what are at times understandable aspirations, manage to assert themselves as absolute and unquestionable, even dictating how children should be raised. It needs to be emphasized that ‘biological sex and the sociocultural role of sex (gender) can be distinguished but not separated.”‘

This deconstruction of human sexuality has already introduced great confusion into society and it is not in conformity with the Catholic faith. As Pope Francis emphasizes in Amoris Laetitia 56, we must “not fall into the sin of trying to replace the Creator. We are creatures, and not omnipotent. Creation is prior to us and must be received as a gift. At the same time, we are called to protect our humanity, and this means, in the first place, accepting it and respecting it as it was created.”

For those who struggle with their sexual identity, it is important to accompany them with compassion, helping them to encounter Jesus Christ, who can bring them healing and lead them to their true identity as sons or daughters of the Father, unlike the false freedom promoted by gender theory.

Jesus teaches us in the Gospels both the importance of listening and speaking the truth with charity, as seen in his encounters with the Samaritan woman, Peter and the apostles, the woman caught in adultery, Zacchaeus, and so many others. Truth and charity are inseparable, and one cannot claim to be acting charitably while disregarding or leading others away from the truth.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Samuel J. Aquila, S.T.L.
Archbishop of Denver

COMING UP: Why 42 had to be impeached twenty years ago

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Twenty years ago this month, I found myself seriously double-booked, so to speak.

The editing of the first volume of my John Paul II biography, Witness to Hope, was entering the ninth inning, and I was furiously engaged in exchanging edited and re-edited copy with my editors in New York. At the same time, the Clinton impeachment drama was cresting. And as I had long done speechwriting for Congressman Henry Hyde, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, I spent week after week of split time, working on John Paul II from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., then switching to impeachment for a couple of hours before returning to Witness to Hope in the evening.

It was not the optimal way to work but it had to be done, even if it seemed likely that the president would be acquitted in a Senate trial. On December 19, 1998, the House of Representatives voted two articles of impeachment and senior House members, including Mr. Hyde, solemnly walked the two articles across the Capitol and presented them to the Senate’s leaders. On toward midnight, Henry Hyde called me and, referring to Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, said, “We’re not going to make it. Trent won’t fight; I saw it in his eyes.” After a long moment I replied that, if we were going to lose, we had a duty to lay down a record with which history would have to reckon.

Which is what the great Henry Hyde did during the January 1999 Senate trial, where he bent every effort to prevent the proceedings from descending into farce.

For Hyde, the impeachment of President Bill Clinton was an unavoidable piece of nasty business. It was not a matter of partisan score-settling, nor was it a matter of punishing a president for gross behavior with an intern in the White House. It was a matter of defending the rule of law. As Henry put it to me when it seemed clear that the president had perjured himself and obstructed justice, “There are over a hundred people in federal prisons for these crimes. How can the chief law enforcement officer of the United States be guilty of them and stay in office?”

Impeachment is a political process and it was clear by mid-fall of 1998 that the politics were not breaking toward removing the president from office. They had been pointed that way over the summer, though. And as the pressures built, it seemed as if the Clinton presidency might end as Richard Nixon’s had: Party elders, in this case Democrats, would go to the White House, explain that it was over, and ask the president to resign for the sake of the country. Then around Labor Day that year, Maureen Dowd of the New York Times and other columnists began suggesting that, if Clinton were impeached and convicted, the sexual revolution would be over, the yahoos of reaction would have won, and we’d be back to something resembling Salem, Massachusetts, during the witchcraft insanity.

That was preposterous. It was also effective. And within days, at least in Washington, you could fill the templates shifting: This wasn’t about the rule of law, it was about sex and the yahoos couldn’t be allowed to win. (That Henry Hyde was the leader of the pro-life forces in Congress neatly fit this storyline, of course, abortion being a major plank in the platform of the sexual revolution.)

So once the game was redefined — Are you for or against the puritanical yahoos? — there was little chance to wrench the political process back to what it was really about: the rule of law. In his opening speech during the president’s trial, Henry Hyde tried valiantly to refocus the argument, insisting that high office did not absolve a man from obeying his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the laws of the United States and his oath swearing to tell the truth to a federal grand jury. To suggest that it did was to “break the covenant of trust” between president and people, dissolving “the mortar that binds the foundation stones of our freedom into a secure and solid edifice.”

It wasn’t a winning argument. But it was the right argument. And on this 20th anniversary, the nation should remember with gratitude those like Henry Hyde who, under fierce assault, stood for the rule of law.

Featured image by Gage Skidmore | Flickr