The news that the priest principal of a Jesuit high school in New York has embraced two homosexual youths' attendance at his junior prom as a "couple" is not new news. It's been out for a couple of weeks. However, an alumnus of the high school has sent Rorate a copy of the letter he wrote to Father Edward Salmon, president of McQuaid Jesuit High School, in protest:
I recently learned of your decision to allow two male students to attend the Junior Prom as a couple. I do not normally consider it my place to correct ministers of the Church. You have an authority which I do not and it is incumbent upon you, within reason, to understand the nature and duties of your ministry with regard to the moral law. However, it would be a sin of omission on my part, as an alumnus, a practicing catholic, and a father, to remain silent in the presence of so clear and public an act which undermines the faith of the Church and thereby endangers the souls of her children entrusted to your care.
You have said that you are neither condoning nor encouraging sinful acts. Make no mistake, by your decision you do encourage and you do condone sin, both in those two men who glory in their shame and in all those who are witnesses of your decision. A prom is a courtship ritual for the young overseen by adults to help them mature toward the possible vocation of marriage. It is guided discernment. If permitting two men to attend is about mere friendship, as you imply, then let them attend singly and enjoy one another’s company in that capacity. No one opposes or disputes the wholesomeness of friendship at a social event. But, the symbolism of attending as a “couple” is lost on no one. By permitting this act you are encouraging grave sin. If you permit one in your care to walk out into busy traffic, or you declare how “welcome” he is to do so, you are encouraging his death. Except in this case your act is far worse because, more than the death of the body, you encourage the death of the immortal soul.
You appeal to love and compassion as reasons for your decision. Indeed, the true guide of every good and just act is the ordo amoris, the order of love. Ordained to this end, the mission of the Church which you represent is the salvation of souls, that they may be eternally sustained in the love of God. This is why the moral law is preached by her ministers: “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.” All true and enduring compassion is founded in seeking the divine life for ourselves and others. Yet where is the love and compassion in encouraging a man to damn his soul? This is not love of neighbor but hatred of God. You speak of hope. All true and enduring hope is founded in expectancy of the vision of God. Yet where is the hope that fails to announce the glory which awaits those who struggle to imitate the uncompromised purity of Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Mother? To console a student in a public display of acquiescence to sinful inclinations is not hope but despair of the fruits promised to those who fight the good fight for their souls. Our Lord ate with tax collectors, sinners, and prostitutes to call them to repentance not to console them in their sinful lives. “Your sins are forgiven you, go forth and sin no more.” Compassion is not permissiveness.
You speak of dispelling fear. As followers of Christ we are commanded not to be afraid of the dangers that surround us, but to stand in fear of the Living God who can cast both body and soul into hell. But where is the fear of God when darkness is called light, when good is called evil and evil is called good?
You speak of discrimination. While it is not our place to condemn men, it is the duty of priests above all to condemn sin and encourage goodness. We are indistinguishable in that every one of us suffers from the inclination to sin. Yet our Lord comes with His offer of salvation to clearly divide those will accept Him in repentance from those who will reject Him in obstinacy. “For now the axe is laid to root of the trees. Every tree therefore that doth not yield good fruit will be cut down and cast into the fire.” “Whose winnowing fan is in His hand. And He will thoroughly cleanse His floor and gather His wheat into the barn. But the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.”
You are a priest of the New Covenant whose duty it is to preach, teach, and sanctify in God’s Holy Name. But in your letter you refer to the Pope, the Bishops, and the Bible in defense of your decision to encourage sin. In this you blaspheme our Lord’s institution of the Papacy, you blaspheme the College of the Apostles, and you blaspheme the Holy Scriptures. I beg you to consider that you are given the charge to lead souls to God. Of the authority given to each of us in this life an account will be demanded of us from the Lord.
Bishops’ conferences, parish committees, and school boards will not be held to account on the terrible Day of Judgment, but each bishop as the shepherd of souls in his diocese, each pastor as the shepherd of souls in his parish, and each catholic high school president as the shepherd of young impressionable students and onlookers.
Do not dismiss my message as a diatribe written out of anger and unjust judgment. I do not harbor anger against you nor do I seek to discern the state of your soul. I am a poor sinner who has no place to judge another. My intention is to denounce manifest sin for what it is. As for my tone, when a shepherd is leading his flock to a precipice, is it more fitting for an onlooker such as myself to whisper or to shout at the impending danger? Woe to me should I remain silent while you are surrounded by those in this wicked and perverse generation who applaud evil acts. Will they applaud on the Day of Judgment when the souls in your care are lost?
You are not only a priest, but a son of St. Ignatius. Of those admitted to his Society he said the following: “As to intention that they be studious of all virtue and spiritual calm, steadfast, strenuous in what they undertake in God's service, burning with zeal for the salvation of souls, therefore attached to our Institute which directly tends to dispose the souls of men to the attainment of that end from the hand of God our Creator and Lord” (Constitutions: Part I, Ch. 2, #8). He repeats numerous times the clear goal for his Society of God’s glory and eternal life: “…The object of the Society and its studies is to assist their neighbors in the knowledge and love of God and the salvation of their own souls” (Constitutions: Part IV, Ch. 12, #1). The purpose of a Jesuit, your purpose, is to lead souls to salvation.
St. Ignatius is clear in how the Society’s purpose is to be carried out in an educational setting. He asserts that the task entrusted to leaders such as yourself is moral as well as intellectual: “The whole care or superintendence and government of the University shall be in the Rector…endowed with such gifts of God of which mention has been made that he may satisfy the whole University in the fulfillment of the duty committed to him in learning and morals” (Constitutions: Part IV, Ch. 17, #1). Specifically, his vision for those served by his Jesuits in this capacity is learning inseparably united with the spiritual life: “Let diligence be used that they who come to the Universities of the Society to study literature acquire also good morals worthy of Christians to which it will greatly assist if all go to the Sacrament of Confession at least once a month and hear Mass every day and a sermon every holy day when one is preached. And each of the preceptors will take care that this be done by his pupils” (Constitutions: Part IV Ch. 16, #1). In exhortations given by and to students he instructs the following: “Inciting them to increase in all purity and virtue that thus their style may not only be exercised but their morals improved.” (Constitutions: Part IV, Ch. 16, #3). In leading souls to salvation, you are to encourage morality not immorality. Yet St. Ignatius is not alone in defining your mission with such powerful clarity.
The hierarchy of the Church has also been eminently clear as to the purpose of the Society of Jesus in education. When Pope Pius VII reestablished the Society, he pronounced a distinct objective for the institutions under its care: “We declare besides, and grant power that they may freely and lawfully apply to the education of youth in the principles of the Catholic faith, to form them to good morals, and to direct colleges and seminaries…” (Sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum, #130). The Church has entrusted you with a grave duty to disseminate the very morality which your decision contradicts.
For the glory of God and the eternal good of the souls made in His image and likeness entrusted to your care, please reconsider your decision.
May God Bless You. May He set alight the true fire of charity within our souls and may He have mercy on us who is coming to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire.
In the Love of Christ Jesus,