Bishop Rhoades’ Statement on ND Pastoral Plan

“One of the essential characteristics of a Catholic university is “fidelity to the Christian message as it comes to us from the Church” (Pope John Paul II, Excorde ecclesiae).  In its recently released Pastoral Plan, the University of Notre Dame clearly affirms its fidelity to Catholic Church teaching on human sexuality by affirming that “sexuality is ordered to the conjugal love of man and woman” and that “the deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose.”  It affirms the teachings of the Church on the commandment and vocation of love, the virtue of chastity and its expression in friendship, the importance of self-mastery, and the call to holiness.  The Plan affirms Catholic teaching that men and women who have homosexual tendencies “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.”

It is vitally important that the Foundations of the Pastoral Plan, which express Notre Dame’s fidelity to Catholic teaching, inform and guide the implementation of the Plan, including the vision, programs and activities of the new student organization that is being formed.  The Pastoral Plan states that “the organization’s purpose arises directly from the University’s Catholic mission and its aspiration to create a community where all may flourish and feel welcome, where we aspire to an even deeper understanding and appreciation of Catholic teaching, and where the human dignity of each Notre Dame student is valued.”  It is my hope and prayer that the rich Catholic teaching on sexuality, teaching that serves the true good and happiness of the human person, will be embraced by the students and all involved in the implementation of the Pastoral Plan.  I hope that the organization will be helpful in providing support for the students, thus preventing the experience of isolation and alienation which are “risk factors for an unhealthy life, including unchaste behaviors” (USCCB, Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination).  I also hope that the Pastoral Plan will be of support to all students at Notre Dame in living a chaste and holy life according to the teachings of Jesus and His Church.”

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