A Barry University professor who told students he was “married” to another man was one of two theologians from Catholic colleges who spoke at a dissident homosexual conference last week.
DignityUSA rejects Catholic teaching that homosexuality is “disordered” and actively affirms and promotes the homosexual lifestyle. The theme of its conference this year was "Let Justice Roll Like a River."
Among the speakers was James Nickoloff, a former Jesuit who teaches theology at Barry University in Florida, a Catholic institution founded by the Adrian Dominican Sisters. According to his faculty profile, Nickoloff has taught at Boston College, the College of the Holy Cross, the Weston Jesuit School of Theology and Santa Clara University.
It was at Santa Clara where Nickoloff taught a course called “The Church and Homosexuality.” According to the syllabus, required readings included Catholic teaching and a book by Richard Cleaver, Know My Name: A Gay Liberation Theology.
Nickoloff shared his marital status with students in an introductory letter for a 2009 online class at Santa Clara University titled “The Church in the World.” He wrote:
I lived in Boston, Massachusetts most of the past thirty years but have just moved to Miami, Florida where I will begin teaching at Barry University in the fall of 2009. I was married to my long-time partner Robert McCleary in 2007 (thank you, Massachusetts!).
It was with McCleary that Nickoloff hosted a workshop last Friday at the Dignity USA convention called, “Righting wrongs: Honoring the power of lived experience in the formation of a sexual/gender identity ethic of justice,” according to the convention’s website.
In his 2009 letter to Santa Clara students, Nickoloff also explained his approach to Catholic teaching: “And for me, the Catholic tradition is like a well from which I drink. While the water may sometimes contain impurities, it can nevertheless quench my thirst for inspiration, challenge, and community.”
In June 2009, Nickoloff, according to a homosexual advocacy group called Queering the Church, delivered a lecture on his research at Santa Clara called, “Intrinsically Disordered: Gay People and the Holiness of the Church.” In introducing his lecture he reportedly said, “In the interest of ‘full disclosure,’ let me make it clear that I write as a professional Catholic systematic theologian who is also a self-affirming gay man and legally married in Massachusetts.”
The other theologian speaking at last week’s DignityUSA conference was Min-Ah Cho, an assistant professor of theology at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minn. In a piece published by the Queer Koreans Alliance, she called the Church’s teaching on homosexuality irrational and inconsistent:
While the Church opposes attempts to legitimize same-sex acts, it leaves room for “respect” and “pastoral care” for those who experience same-sex attraction. The Church teaches that gay men and lesbians need to be embraced by the Church and guided away from potential sin.
…Overly simple answers or repetitive affirmation of the Vatican’s teachings on the issue of homosexuality is inadequate and never helpful.
Fr. Roy Bourgeois, the former priest who was laicized for taking part in the ordination of women, also spoke at the conference, according to Dignity USA’s twitter page.
Barry University did not respond to The Cardinal Newman Society’s questions concerning Nickoloff.
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