Archbishop Aquila issues letter to Regis University community

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: Team Samaritan cyclist goes ‘Everesting’ for the homeless and hungry

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When it comes to the daily sufferings of those who are homeless, there’s nothing like a 29,029-foot bike ride to keep things in perspective.

That’s exactly what Corbin Clement will be doing this Saturday, June 19, with a couple of his riding buddies as they attempt an “Everesting” ride to raise money for the Samaritan House homeless shelter in Denver. Starting at Witter Gulch Road in Evergreen, the three riders will climb Squaw Pass Road to a point in Clear Creek County and ride back down the hill for over eight laps, which amounts to roughly 190 miles in distance and the equivalent of the elevation of Mt. Everest in terms of vertical climbing – hence the name “Everesting.” Their goal is to complete the feat in 20 hours or less.

Oh, and they can’t sleep. It is, indeed, just as crazy as it sounds. Those who aren’t avid cyclists might be wondering, “How in the world do you train for something like this?” 
 
“For training, it’s been just more or less ride as much as possible,” Clement told the Denver Catholic. “The training is structured around endurance, and that’s of course what Everesting is. It’s just a lot of peddling. So, a lot of my training so far has just been trying to ride as much as possible and ride longer high elevation rides.” 

In March, an Irish cyclist set the world record for Everesting when he completed the feat in six hours and 40 minutes. Clement isn’t trying to set a record, but regardless, it’s quite a feat to undertake, even for a seasoned athlete like him, whose pedigree includes snowboarding and rock climbing. 

“Our ride will be the same thing, but it’ll be pretty different,” Clement said. “We don’t have any sort of special bikes or super focused diet or a really regimented plan or a crew that’s very well-instructed on how we’re going to tackle this. I’ve read a couple of things to just kind of make it into a party — have friends come out to support you, get people to join you on certain laps…that’s kind of the approach we’re taking.” 

Clement has already raised $5,200 for Samaritan House, with a current goal of $8,000. This is Clement’s first year riding for Team Samaritan, but his dad, Kevin, has ridden for the team for several years. When his dad offered to give him an extra kit and uniform, Clement accepted, but didn’t want to take it without doing something help the cause. He could’ve simply opted for a nice ride in the countryside, but he chose to do something a bit more challenging.  

Corbin Clement used to experience the challenges that homeless people face on a daily basis when commuting through downtown Denver to work on his bike. This Saturday, he will raise money for Samaritan House homeless shelter by “Everesting,” a 190-mile bike ride that is the equivalent of the elevation of Mt. Everest in terms of vertical climbing. (Photo provided)

“For some reason, the Everesting idea popped into my head,” he explained. “I think it’s one of those things that has a little bit of shock value for people who hear about it. It’s certainly something that’s gained more popularity and visibility in the last couple of years with endurance athletes. I wanted to choose something that would actually be a challenge for myself and something that I’d have to work towards.” 

Clement currently resides in Utah, but he used to live in Denver and commute by bike to work every day. During those rides to his office, which was located near Samaritan House, he would pass many homeless people and have conversations with them. This experience was also a motivating factor for his Everesting attempt for Team Samaritan. 

“It’s very different when you’re on a bike versus in a car because you’re right there,” Clement said. “If you stop at a stoplight and a homeless person is on the corner, whether or not they’re panhandling or something like that, you hear the conversations, or you’ll have a conversation with them. There are things you smell or you hear or you see that you just never would if you were in a car. So, it kind of made sense, too, with the biking aspect. It’s part of my community that I’ve lived and worked in for a very long time.” 

Clement’s Everesting attempt is one event in a series of endurance event’s he’s doing over the summer that culminates with the Leadville 100, a single-day mountain bike race across the Colorado Rockies. In that race, he will be riding to support young adults diagnosed with cancer by raising funds for First Descents.  

Both causes are near to Clement’s heart, and he said that while his Everesting attempt will be a form of “suffering,” it pales in comparison to what the homeless face day in and day out. This is ultimately why he’s riding and raising funds for Team Samaritan. 

“Any time we see a homeless person or people who have to live on the streets,” Clement said, “That is true suffering — true endurance — with no end in sight.” 

To learn more about Corbin’s fundraising efforts or to donate, click here.