Catholic College Disinvites Pro-Gay Speaker Following Church Militant Exposure

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by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  September 21, 2017   

Madonna University has a history of supporting the acceptance of homosexual behavior

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LIVONIA, Mich. (ChurchMilitant.com) - Michigan's Madonna University has canceled a pro-gay speaker after Church Militant reported on the dubious event. Turns out that the institute has a history of supporting the acceptance of homosexuality.

On Friday Church Militant reported that pro-LGBT speaker and author, Dr. M. Shawn Copeland, was slated to speak September 20 on social justice at Madonna, the Catholic university run by the Felician sisters in Livonia, Michigan. Copeland's invite was extended via Madonna's Center for Catholic Studies and Interfaith Dialogue (CCSID), which has pro-LGBT Sr. Nancy Marie Jamroz, C.S.S.F. as its director.

On Tuesday, just four days after Church Militant's reportage, Madonna's CCSID posted on Facebook that Copeland's talk had been canceled, owing to blowback stemming from the publicity. The post reads, "The presentation, A New Vision for the Church: Pope Francis' Agenda for Social Justice, by Dr. M. Shawn Copeland and scheduled for Sept. 20 has been canceled, due to some messages in the media that misconstrued the content of Dr. Copeland's lecture."

In the same Facebook post announcing the cancellation of Copeland's lecture, Sr. Jamroz opined, "We are sorry for this lost educational opportunity for Madonna students and for the heavy blow it strikes to academic freedom and to Pope Francis' vision for the Church." The post then proceeded to paraphrase Jamroz as follows: "She went on to say that the faculty and staff at Madonna remain unwavering in their commitment to living out the University's Franciscan Values of respect for the dignity of all people, reverence for creation, peace and justice and education for truth and service."

Just below the cancellation notice on Facebook was Madonna's CCSID post, announcing Copeland's speaking engagement, which contained a link to Copeland's bio. In the bio was a list of books authored by Copeland. Heading that list was Copeland's 2010 book titled Enfleshing Freedom: Body, Race and Being. It was this book, which was the focus of Church Militant's report last Friday, and that report was the basis for what the CCSID post referred to as "messages in the media that misconstrued the content of Dr. Copeland's lecture."

In the report, Church Militant highlighted the fact that Copeland cited pro-gay advocates in her book extensively and without apology. One such citation reads:

For gay and lesbian Christians, Easter becomes the event at which God says no to homophobic violence and sexual oppression. ... On Easter, God made Jesus queer in His solidarity with us. In other words, Jesus 'came out of the closet' and became the 'queer' Christ. ... Jesus is queer by His solidarity with queers.

Church Militant further showed that Copeland's book indicated she doesn't like the Church's language or viewpoint on homosexuality. In her book, Copeland questions not only the language of the Church but the perspective behind that language. "Church teaching repels gay and lesbian (anti)bodies to the periphery of the ecclesial body and may well disclose just how afraid the Church may be of the body of Jesus of Nazareth," writes Copeland. "Moral theologian Stephen J. Pope calls the Magisterium's teaching about homosexual orientation 'powerfully stigmatizing and dehumanizing.'"

In her book, Copeland makes her position quite clear. "Paul Crowley affirms the meaningfulness of the Cross not only for gay and lesbian people but for all Christians," she writes. "Crowley rightly objects to the peculiar application of crucified living (enforced abstinence) to the (sexual) fulfillment of gays and lesbians." Church Militant's report contained more quotes than listed above but was, however, a mere fraction of the objectionable quotes found in Copeland's book, pertaining to the normalization of homosexuality. Copeland was well known to the Felician Sisters and Madonna University.

Crowley rightly objects to the peculiar application of crucified living (enforced abstinence) to the (sexual) fulfillment of gays and lesbians.

This wasn't the first time that trouble erupted at Madonna University over the issue of homosexuality and the Felician Sisters who sponsored it. In 2012, the TFP Student Action, a Catholic pro-family group, joined with faithful Catholics, alumni and former benefactors of Madonna University to prayerfully protest the leadership of the Felician Sisters, owing to their selection of pro-LGBT advocate, Fr. Michael Crosby, OFM Cap., to lead a weeklong retreat for the sisters residing in Livonia.

TFP, which stands for Tradition Family and Property, noted in 2012 that Madonna University already had a history of "pro-homosexual advocacy over the past several years." They also noted that the Felician's Sr. Nancy Jamroz, who had previously served as the vice president for Student Services prior to her election to provincial council of the new Our Lady of Hope Province in 2009, "was publicly supportive of the so-called 'safe zones' for homosexuals, manifested by the placement of rainbow triangles throughout the campus and other initiatives aimed at the acceptance of homosexual behavior." This is the same sister currently heading the university's department, which had invited Copeland to speak this week on campus.

As previously reported, it was also in 2012 that faithful sisters tried to fight back against their dissident Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) leadership, who had brought in pagan rituals, a pro-LGBT agenda and dissident speakers starting in 2009 when they took over leadership roles in the former Felician province of Livonia. A letter was sent that year to the general chapter of Felicians gathered in Rome by concerned Felician sisters from Poland and Livonia. The letter addresses the following issues they were experiencing:

  • Pagan rituals using smoke and feathers to send up prayers to God the Mother
  • Promotion of pro-homosexual agendas without any attempt at converting homosexuals
  • Practicing Reiki, which was specifically condemned by U.S. bishops
  • Promoting speakers that contradict Church teaching

That same year the concerns of the faithful sisters were brushed off by pro-LCWR leaders, who had assumed control of the community.

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Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.

Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th. is a staff writer for ChurchMilitant.com.

Follow Bradley on Twitter: @BradleyLEli