Providence College president finally condemns gay rape threats against pro-family student

Claire Chretien

Providence College president finally condemns gay rape threats against pro-family student

PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island, March 26, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – After public pressure, the President of Providence College, Father Brian Shanley, OP, has finally condemned the gay rape cartoon threatening a pro-family student.

He also said the Dominican-run institution “always has, and always will, remain faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church” but “our collective challenge is to find a way to be faithful to our Catholic identity and to be inclusive” of the “LGBTQ+ community.”

The pro-family student and Resident Advisor (RA) who has faced threats and harassment for defending Catholic teaching is Michael Smalanskas. Smalanskas told LifeSiteNews “there are still reasons for serious concern moving forward” after Fr. Shanley’s email.

The trouble for Smalanskas began earlier this month, when he posted a bulletin board articulating what the Catholic Church teaches about “Marriage: The Way God Intended It.”

The bulletin board was repeatedly vandalized. Smalanskas’ fellow RAs threateningly congregated outside his door, leading campus police to transport Smalanskas to a secure, undisclosed location in the middle of the night because they feared for his safety.

On March 14, a cartoon of Smalanskas being forcibly sodomized was posted in the bathroom of his residence hall. Later that day, Vice President of Student Affairs Kristine Goodwin sent student leaders an email encouraging them to attend the pro-LGBT march being organized in response to the Catholic bulletin board. It’s unclear whether she was aware of the sexual assault threat.

That pro-LGBT march, originally scheduled for March 21, was postponed to March 23 due to weather.

More than 2,500 people signed a LifeSiteNews-hosted petitiondemanding Fr. Shanley condemn the gay rape cartoon.

On March 21, Bishop Thomas Tobin, the local ordinary, sent Smalanskas a letter calling the harassment and threats he was receiving “reprehensible.”

“I admire and commend your courage in stepping forward to proclaim the teachings of the Church about Holy Matrimony,” Tobin wrote.

READ: Providence College chaplains respond to attacks on pro-marriage Catholic student

“For the sake of the record, I want to say that the President of Providence College, Father Brian Shanley, O.P., continues to have my personal support,” the bishop continued. “He is a good man, a dedicated and faithful priest, and has proven to be an effective leader of Providence College.”

After praising Shanley, Tobin asked:

…it does seem to me that Providence College is standing at the crossroads and now has to make a conscious decision about which road to travel. Will it maintain, proudly, unapologetically and unambiguously, its Catholic heritage by preaching, teaching and living the Catholic Faith in all its beauty and richness? Or, like so many other institutions today, will it succumb to modernist trends and become just one more progressive, secular bastion of political correctness? Or, we might ask: Will it continue to be P.C. – the Providence College we’ve come to know and love; or simply be p.c. – politically correct, the pathetic, ephemeral fashion that has, in recent years, taken such an ironclad grip on our culture?

‘My office has been barraged with phone calls and e-mails’ because of ‘conservative media sites’

On the morning of March 26, Fr. Shanley sent an email to all of campus complaining that “the College has been the subject of much discussion and negative publicity, mostly on conservative social media sites.”

“Much of what has been reported is not accurate,” he asserted, but did not give any examples of any part of the scandal being inaccurately reported.

“I am distressed by the way Michael Smalanskas has been vilified and ostracized by many of his peers,” Fr. Shanley wrote. “While some might not agree with how he tried to express Church teaching, he is entitled to the same respect, charity, and protection that is due any student. There can be no place on our campus for bullying, harassment, or intimidation. The drawing of him that was posted in the St. Joseph Hall men’s room was odious and reprehensible.”

Fr. Shanley’s full email stated:

Dear Members of the Providence College Community:

I am writing to follow up on my communication of March 19 and to address again the controversy that is currently roiling our campus.  Since I wrote my first message, the College has been the subject of much discussion and negative publicity, mostly on conservative social media sites.  Much of what has been reported is not accurate.  My office has been barraged with phone calls and e-mails that have been angry, accusatory, and ironically uncharitable.  Many suggest that Providence College has abandoned its Catholic identity and fidelity to Church teachings, particularly with regard to the sanctity of Marriage, and has succumbed to “political correctness.”  In order to address several of the issues that have surfaced, I would like to make the following points:

1.      The College always has, and always will, remain faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church.  We will do everything in our power to proclaim and explain these teachings to our students from the pulpit, in the classroom, and in the day-to day life of our campus.  We will, however, do this in a spirit of Christ-like charity and compassion. This is especially important and challenging in difficult matters related to human sexuality.   For those who do not accept the premises of the Church’s teaching on marriage and human sexuality, the doctrine can appear to be hard to accept or even harsh.  Our challenge is to dialogue respectfully with those who disagree with the Church.  This is especially a challenge for those on our campus who are members of the LGBTQ+ community.  What I hear from members of that community is not that they expect us to disavow the Church’s teaching, but rather to find a way to help them feel included in the light of our Catholic identity and in a way that recognizes their inherent dignity as created in the image and likeness of God.   Our collective challenge is to find a way to be faithful to our Catholic identity and to be inclusive.

2.      I am distressed by the way Michael Smalanskas has been vilified and ostracized by many of his peers.  While some might not agree with how he tried to express Church teaching, he is entitled to the same respect, charity, and protection that is due any student.   There can be no place on our campus for bullying, harassment, or intimidation.  The drawing of him that was posted in the St. Joseph Hall men’s room was odious and reprehensible.  The Providence Police were notified, and the Office of Public Safety is attempting to determine who was responsible.  If you have any information about this, I would encourage you to contact Public Safety.

Let me conclude by saying that I believe that the challenge to be faithful to our Catholic and Dominican identity and to be inclusive appears daunting.  It is a challenge on every Catholic campus and in the Church as a whole.   We are not alone.  I take heart in the belief that God’s providence will guide us through our challenges as a community.  It is my hope and prayer for our community that as we enter into the Church’s holiest time of the year, we will find the gift of a Resurrection that brings healing, reconciliation, and peace.

 

Fr. Brian Shanley
President

“Many will champion this communication from Fr. Shanley as a victory for faithful Catholics. While I appreciate that he addressed the issue more thoroughly today, there are still reasons for serious concern moving forward,” Smalanskas told LifeSiteNews.

Fr. Shanley’s “hesitation to speak forcefully on the matter speaks volumes,” he continued. “It took the president over three weeks to try and do something that could have easily been addressed immediately. He seems to suggest that his only reason for doing so was in response to the negative publicity and criticism from concerned Catholics, once again insulting anyone who is concerned about Catholic identity as uncharitable and angry.”

Smalanskas concluded:

Fr. Shanley affirms that the college has always and will always be faithful to Church teaching, yet for the last three weeks [and much longer], people have been rightfully concerned that this is not the case.

He continues to pit Catholic teaching against efforts toward inclusion. There will always be such a tension for Fr. Shanley and others who have a vision of inclusion that seems to desire express affirmation of the very lifestyle choices and behavior of LGBTQ people. Instead of using the vast treasury of the Church’s knowledge to approach diversity and inclusion in a way that draws people in and toward a higher good that has been revealed by God and ordained in nature, he comes across as exhausted by a rigid Church that is in desperate need of a new way to approach these issues.

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5 comments on “Providence College president finally condemns gay rape threats against pro-family student

  1. A Dominican priest who went up against the queers running the Order learned the hard way, decades ago, that being actually Catholic in a modernist Kathlyk organization is impossible.

    • [I presume you mean the late Fr. John O’Connor (RiP)]
      /
      Priest remembered as an early whistleblower
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      By Matt C. Abbott – December 14, 2006
      /
      Former Dominican Father John O’Connor died on Dec. 7, 2006 of complications from a cardiac arrest.
      /
      I thought it would be fitting to print the following excerpt from chapter 16 (“Homosexuality in Religious Orders”) of Randy Engel’s The Rite of Sodomy — Homosexuality and the Roman Catholic Church.
      /
      Father John O’Connor — A Life of Faith, Devotion and Courage
      /
      John F. O’Connor was born and raised in Chicago. He entered the Dominican Order in 1949. After completing a one-year novitiate in Winona, Minn., he went to the River Forest House of Studies for three years and later to St. Rose Priory in Dubuque. He was ordained in Oakland, Calif., in 1955.
      /
      Immediately afterwards, Father O’Connor began his long career as a Dominican preacher, first as a parish priest, then as a college professor of theology and philosophy. From 1969 to 1989, he was part of the Dominican Mission Band and preached throughout the United States, England and Canada. The Blessed Virgin Mary and the Rosary were prominent themes in his Mission work. In the late 1980s, he found himself once again at home at the magnificent St. Dominic and St. Thomas Priory in River Forest in the Central Province of Chicago. His Provincial Superior was none other than Father Donald Goergen [author of pro-sodomite The Sexual Celibate].
      /
      As a faithful son of St. Dominic, O’Connor never had any difficulties with his superiors until Goergen arrived on the scene. Goergen wanted O’Connor out.
      /
      In a conversation with O’Connor in April 1986, Father Lex Goedert, the Prior at River Forest, let it slip that Goergen was going to suspend O’Connor on some pretext or another. By this time, O’Connor, due in part to his long association with Dominican Father Charles Corcoran, had become a nationally recognized opponent of the Homosexual Collective in AmChurch and in his own Dominican Order.
      /
      The fireworks began in March 1987 when Father Charles Fanelli, the pastor of St. John Baptist Vianney Church in Northlake, Ill., asked O’Connor to give a weeklong Mission at his church.
      /
      A woman who attended all of O’Connor’s talks said that his powerful preaching at the mission had parishioners lining up the isles for confession and that the crowds grew larger every night. Fanelli considered the event to be a great success.
      /
      Not everyone, however, was favorably impressed with O’Connor’s preaching.
      /
      At the next parish council meeting in April at St. John Vianney, the members were informed that complaints against O’Connor’s preaching had been lodged with Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, Archbishop of Chicago. When O’Connor attempted to get copies of the complaints, Bernardin refused to send them to him.
      /
      On May 4, 1987, Goergen, in the company of another Dominican, Father Jim Marchionda, visited O’Connor at River Forest to discuss the complaints. During a heated confrontation, O’Connor told Goergen that Cochran had witnessed Goergen sodomizing a fellow Dominican. O’Connor reported that Goergen told him, “Homosexuality is becoming more acceptable now,” and let the subject drop.
      /
      O’Connor decided to go on the offensive. On May 13, 1987, he sent Goergen a letter questioning the financial irregularities of the Province, especially in connection with the St. Jude Thaddeus Shrine operated by the Dominicans on the South side of Chicago. O’Connor made specific reference to Father “Chuck” Dahm, a member of Goergen’s coterie, who had allegedly been draining the treasury of thousands of dollars to finance various left-wing political causes. O’Connor asked for an independent audit of the Province’s and St. Jude’s financial records.
      /
      On July 22, 1987, Goergen sent O’Connor a return salvo. Goergen told O’Connor, in response to the latter’s request for a transfer, that he had no intention of reassigning him to another Province. Goergen repeated his demand that O’Connor moderate his preaching, stop mentioning people by name in his talks (especially Bernardin) and stop frightening people with verbal excesses.
      /
      Goergen stated that he wanted O’Connor to sign a letter of apology to the disgruntled parishioners at St. John Vianney who had complained to Bernardin. O’Connor, who had been physically attacked by the husband of one of the complainants, responded they were lucky he was not suing them for assault and battery. On November 3, 1987, Goergen ordered all communications between O’Connor and parties involved in the parish incident to cease.
      /
      Goergen needed a new line of attack.
      /
      On December 2, 1987, one month after O’Connor had returned from a successful speaking engagement in South Dakota, Goergen informed O’Connor that he wanted him to visit a psychological counselor. O’Connor said no dice. Goergen backed off. It was back to the drawing board.
      /
      In early 1988, Goergen made another visitation to O’Connor at River Forest. This time the Provincial stated he wanted O’Connor to stop “isolating” himself from his community of brothers. He also stated that the head of the Province of St. Joseph in New York had requested O’Connor not to enter his domain. O’Connor agreed with the latter, but said that his special dietary and health problems mitigated against his taking meals in common with his fellow Dominicans.
      /
      In April 1988, O’Connor, who had maintained contact with the Holy See on his problems with Goergen, was advised by the Congregation for Religious and Secular Institutes in Rome to obey his superior (Goergen) and, if all else fails, to consult with and follow the advice of the Dominican Master General in Rome.
      /
      O’Connor decided not to seek exclaustration. He would stay and fight.
      /
      The rest of the year remained relatively uneventful. O’Connor, as directed, limited his preaching to the confines of his own Central Province. However, much to Goergen’s consternation, O’Connor’s anti-Modernist tapes, which included a section against the Homosexual Collective in the Church, continued to gain greater nationwide circulation.
      /
      On March 31, 1989, O’Connor was advised that the Provincial Council of St. Albert the Great had issued an order forbidding O’Connor to preach — anywhere. The Council also recommended that he undergo a psycho-medical evaluation.
      /
      In a letter of June 13, 1989, O’Connor responded by asking Goergen if he (Goergen) was willing to repent of his homosexual life. The letter was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. Two days later, Goergen notified O’Connor that his suspension was fully in effect.
      /
      On February 22, 1990, after more than 40 years in the Dominican Order, O’Connor was informed by Goergen that the process of his formal dismissal from the order had begun under Canon 696. Fifteen days later, a second warning was sent to O’Connor and formal charges against him were transmitted to the Master General in Rome.
      /
      Goergen accused O’Connor of giving “grave scandal” by his written allegations against a member of the hierarchy (Bernardin) and against his Dominican brothers (Benedict Ashley, William Bernacki, Peter Witchousky and Donald Goergen).
      /
      In February 1990, O’Connor received a letter from Master General Rev. Damian Byrne in Rome (Prot. 35/90/10) stating that O’Connor had harmed the reputation of the Central Province, the whole Dominican Order and the Church with his accusations against Bernardin and his brother Dominicans.
      /
      Byrne ordered O’Connor to engage in a period of prayer and reflection beginning February 20, 1990. He also ordered O’Connor to check himself into the psycho-ward at the Guadeloupe Center in Cherry Valley, Calif. O’Connor refused.
      /
      In the meantime, O’Connor had hired a canon lawyer to plead his dismissal from the Dominican Order in Rome, but to no avail [columnist’s note: O’Connor’s canon lawyer was the late Father Alfred Kunz, whose 1998 murder remains unsolved]. Additional appeals to the Pope [JP2] went nowhere.
      /
      In the summer of 1991, Rome informed O’Connor that he was dismissed from the Dominicans. O’Connor packed his bags and left the River Forest Priory forever.
      /
      On Ash Wednesday, February 28, 1990, O’Connor wrote: “When I made my vow of obedience 40 years ago, it was first and foremost to Jesus Christ, His Mother and St. Dominic and in obedience to them only death will silence my witnessing to the Truth.”
      /
      To which one can only respond, “Amen.”

  2. Thanks, Tom. He’s the priest, a great son of St. Dominic.

  3. A gang of perverts harasses, intimidates, and threatens a Catholic student for defending Catholic teaching on the sacrament of marriage and the president acts as if the main issue was “how” the student “tried to express Church teaching” and feelings of inclusion of those who do not agree with Church teaching and who attack those who support it.

    Those concerned about Catholic identity at the college are dismissed as being misinformed by “conservative social media sites” and as being “angry, accusatory, and ironically uncharitable.” There is no explanation why there was not an IMMEDIATE condemnation of the obscene, grotesque, and disgusting cartoon depicting the student being anally raped or why that is considered a less important violation of student codes of behavior.

    Edit for PC and inclusiveness:

    ” I am distressed by the way Michael Smalanskas has been depicted being anally raped in the cartoon. While some might not agree with how the cartoonist tried to express his or her displeasure with the student who defended the Catholic teaching on marriage, they are entitled to the same respect, charity, and protection that is due any student. There can be no place on our campus for bullying, harassment, or intimidation. Or homoerotic pornography depicting Catholic students being anally raped, for which some liberal administrators and faculty may share some sympathy and enthusiasm. Much of what has been reported about their enthusiasm for the anal rape of Catholic students defending traditional marriage is not accurate. For those who do not accept the premises of the Church’s teaching on marriage and human sexuality, the doctrine can appear to be hard to accept or even harsh. Our challenge is to dialogue respectfully with those who disagree with the Church and to be sensitive and inclusive about their desire for perverted sex practices, like anal rape, in the spirit of diversity.”

  4. St. Peter Damian, Doctor of the Church, pray for us.

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