In conjunction with the Phillips Academy Chaplaincy, the Catholic Student Fellowship (CSF) hosted last Friday night the first forum in its “Being Gay and Being Catholic” guest speaker series in the Ropes Salon in the upstairs of Commons. The list of lecturers included Instructor in Chemistry Paul Cernota, Instructor in Art Peg Harrigan, and Professor of Christian Ethics at the Weston Jesuit School of Theology Father Edward C. Vacek. The meeting began with an introduction by Catholic Chaplain Maria Cataldo, who welcomed the guests and then introduced the CSF Board. First to approach the microphone was the CSF President Katie McGowan ’03, who commented, “The past year has been a tumultuous year for the Catholic Church. As the 2002-2003 school year began, leaders of the CSF addressed how to present a forum on the Church, the current scandals, its problems and its future as it moves into the 21st century.” Taking over the podium, Dr. Cernota told the audience of his childhood experiences as a homosexual in a small parish in New Hampshire. He also shared memories from his time at the University of California at Berkeley and ended with stories of his professional life. Dr. Cernota stated, “Being gay and being Catholic, I’m not sure if I’m really comfortable yet. At Andover there’s always a welcoming sense of community…. It’s important to know that God is for love. Religion is something that is meant to build you up. If you remember that, it makes being gay and being Catholic possible.” The second speaker at the presentation was ten-year faculty member Peg Harrigan, who described to the audience her life as a homosexual in an eventually tolerant family. At 28 years old, Ms. Harrigan “came out” to her mother and “led the way” for her gay brother. The third and final speaker of the forum was Jesuit Father Edward C. Vacek, professor of Christian Ethics and chair of the Department of Moral Theology at the Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, Massachusetts and author of Love, Human and Divine. In response to the recent sexual abuse scandals surrounding priests in the Catholic Church, Father Vacek commented, “The Church is slow to change and slower to change in favor of homosexuality.” Closing, Father Vacek noted that although “we live in a culture that assumes homosexuality is wrong,” gays should “just find a good partner to love and share life.”
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