The Notre Dame Observer has refused to publish Dr. Charles E. Rice’s biweekly “Right or Wrong” column on the topic of Catholic teaching on homosexuality. I have read through the column and could find nothing objectionable in either tone or content. In fact it quotes heavily from Church documents and accurately portrays Church teaching. It is certainly not polemical in any way. Hat tip to Matt C. Abbott for the information.
The editor of the The Observer replied by email to Dr. Rice:
Dear Mr. Rice,
I wanted to first introduce myself as Matt Gamber, the new Editor-in-Chief of The Observer. Thank you for your continued hard work and contributions to The Observer’s Viewpoint section.
Second, I wanted to let you know why we chose not to run your most recent submission in Tuesday’s Observer. First, it far exceeded our word limit guidelines, which I understand our Viewpoint Editor, Michelle Maitz, has shared with you in the past. Our daily space limitations require that we enforce this word limit, and we would appreciate your attention to this limit in the future.
Also, I personally had some concerns with the content of the column, particularly considering The Mobile Party comic incident earlier in the semester at The Observer. While your piece was well-researched and I trust the information was factually correct, I did not feel it lent itself to creating a productive discussion, all things considered. I was a bit concerned with certain language as well.
In the future, if you would like to examine this topic, we thought it might be beneficial to do so in a point-counterpoint format, perhaps with an author of an opposing or differing viewpoint. That way, each “side,” to speak, would have the opportunity to present relevant facts, evidence and analysis to define its position.
As I began, I again thank you for your contributions to The Observer. Please let me know if you have any questions regarding this decision, and I look forward to working with you in the future.
A point-counterpoint format? Let me see there is Magisterial Church teaching as opposed to what? America Magazine tried that both sides format until their editor supposedly got sacked for it. You can just not set Church teaching against a counterpoint view except perhaps in a format like the Summa Theologicae where those counterpoints are answered. This is just not an area where Catholics can have differing viewpoints and still be faithful to the Church. Sure there are plenty of prudential responses on how best we minister to those with the cross of same-sex attraction, but homosexual acts being objectively grave is not an area open to debate. It is a matter of love to tell the truth and pretending that homosexual acts are not gravely evil is no act of charity – quite the opposite. Exactly what are his concerns? It seems an editor should spell this out if there is an actual problem.
Dear Mr. Gamber:
Thank you for your email informing me that my column presenting the teachings of the Church on homosexuality will not be published. Since 1992, I have been privileged to publish every two weeks a column, entitled “Right or Wrong,” in the Observer. I emphasize my appreciation for the unfailing professionalism and courtesy of the Observer editors with whom I have had contact over those years.
You mention the column “far exceeded our word limit guidelines.” It is in fact significantly shorter than each of the three previous columns published this semester in the Observer. I was not asked to shorten any of them. The rejected column accurately presented relevant teachings of the Catholic Church on homosexuality. I understand why you are concerned over the content of the column. You further propose that if I examine the topic of homosexuality in the future, “we thought it might be beneficial to do so in a point-counterpoint format, perhaps with an author of an opposing or differing viewpoint. That way, each ‘side,’ so to speak, would have the opportunity to present relevant facts, evidence and analysis to define its position.”
In a university that claims to be Catholic, I am not willing to restrict my presentation of Catholic teaching to a format that treats the authoritative teaching of the Church as merely one viewpoint or “side” among many. If you require that future columns of mine on homosexuality comply with a format such as you propose, it will be inappropriate for me to continue writing the column for the Observer.
Charles E. Rice
Notre Dame Law School
The recent reply by Matt Gamber to this in part said “because the paper is still recovering from the incident with The Mobile Party comic, we would prefer to examine this issue at a later time.”
In part I can understand this since the Mobile Party comic strip which was a real piece of homosexual bashing and quite disgusting, displayed a mockery of those with same-sex attraction quite at odds with Church teaching. The editor of the paper was fired over this which is why there is a new editor. That said I think it is an oversensitive reaching. Church teaching is never inconvenient and should be taught in season or out of season. There is a massive difference between the Church’s teaching on homosexual acts and a cartoon that reflects an opinion totally at odds with the treatment of persons with same-sex attraction. This column needs to be run as reflected by the fact that there is a Notre Dame Gay/ Lesbian/ Bisexual/ Transgender (GLBT) community in the first place. It is this group that should be suppressed, not the column.