Dr. Julie Sullivan, the first lay president of the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, received one large round of applause during her convocation speech last week, when she mentioned the University’s commitment to inclusiveness of gays and lesbians “regardless of the gender of their spouse.”
“Our Catholic identity and mission call us to recognize and respect the dignity of every human person as a child of God and as created in God’s image,” she said. “Thus, we have a Catholic mission-based calling to embrace and treat every person in our community with love and support. It pains me to think that a gay student, staff or faculty member would ever feel unwelcome or a need to hide at St. Thomas. As Pope Francis reminds us, we are not called to judge. We are called to love and support everyone in our community regardless of their sexual orientation. And, I might add, regardless of the gender of their spouse."
She was immediately interrupted by a burst of applause for about 10 seconds, the only time that occurred during her entire speech.
This followed her announcement of a desire to "increase the diversity and inclusiveness of our community” and adding, “I use the term diversity in its broadest sense: race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, geographic (both domestic and international), religious and socioeconomic."
The Church clearly calls for loving and respecting all, but without any mention from Sullivan of the Church’s teaching on homosexuality and marriage, her approach could lead students to think that their Catholicism calls them to accept homosexual behavior as non-sinful.
The applause isn’t a complete surprise, because in 2010, UST students held an on-campus demonstration supporting same-sex marriage, according to The Examiner.
Sullivan had been executive vice president and provost of the University of San Diego.
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