Standing Up for Father Greg

For the last five years, Father Greg Shaffer has served as chaplain at the Newman Center at George Washington University. Fr Greg is a holy and compassionate priest – a spiritual father, beloved by many of the catholic students on campus at GW (as well as many Catholics living in D.C. and across the country).

Now, he is being attacked by the school’s newspaper, The Hatchet, and two students campaigning to have him removed from ministry as well as the GW Catholics group defunded of university funding. All because Fr Greg is faithful to the Church’s teaching on human sexuality and the dignity of the human person.

Screen shot 2013-04-08 at 11.22.12 AMThe attack began last week during Holy Week, shortly after Fr Greg had returned from leading 20 students on an “alternative spring break” trip to repair homes and serve people in need in Appalachia. The Hatchet derided Father Greg for supporting traditional marriage and for emphasizing the church’s teaching on chastity.

This week, two more stories have been published featuring one of the young men leading the campaign. Damien Legacy, who says he experienced psychological distress as a result of Fr Greg’s counsel, told The Hatchet that “at least a dozen students…have left the Newman Center in the last several years because Father Greg Shaffer’s strong anti-gay and anti-abortion views are too polarizing.” The Hatchet goes on to quote Mr. Legacy saying:

“We have to appeal to him. In the end, he’s the one preaching on Sunday. He’s the one counseling these students. The money doesn’t matter to him, but when you see the faces of the people you’re turning away, you see the people who say ‘Oh, I would go to church all the time, but I don’t like Father Greg.’ When you meet them at their level, that’s going to hit them harder because it’s something they’re going to understand.”

I’ll state the obvious first.  As a priest of the Catholic Church, it is Fr Greg’s moral obligation to preach the Truth as proclaimed in the Catechism. He has done so with kindness –concerning himself not with the purely temporal happiness of those who look to him for guidance, but with zeal for their souls and eternal welfare.

Mr. Legacy’s attempt to “appeal” to some other variable, to reduce this issue to the “views” of one man – a humble and holy priest who other GWU students have been very quick to defend for his compassion, understanding, and gentleness – misses the point completely.

The very purpose of Fr Greg’s presence on campus is to provide pastoral care in the context of the Catholic faith to students who come to him. To expect his preaching to change, or to expect a new chaplain to preach any differently, shows a profound misunderstanding not just of the Catholic faith but of the role of Catholics in the public square.

Fr Greg and the Newman Center shine Christ’s light across the GW campus and throughout the city of Washington whether it is doing service work at Gift of Peace home (which supports the homeless and those suffering from AIDS), cooking meals for the homeless, or holding food and clothing drives for pregnant women in need.

With the support and blessing of other Catholics and people of good will, the Newman Center and those within it will continue to bear Christ to the students of GW and the people of D.C. And that will continue to include sharing the truth about the intrinsic dignity of each individual human being, regardless of their race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, disability, or baseball team preferences.

The Newman Center is a place of community, compassion, service, and faith formation – to “tone down” the message would be to violate the Gospel principles on which it is based and would be doing a disservice to all of the students it serves.

Please pray for Fr. Greg and the students of GW, and all those seeking to lead in the service of truth.

The GWU Newman Center is currently preparing four students for the seminary and was even recognized at the Vatican Synod for the New Evangelization as one of the premiere successes of the movement. They need our prayers – and if possible, our financial support!


Categories:Culture Education Marriage

  • Max

    Fr. Greg says Mass at all hours of the day so that busy graduate students like me can find a Mass notwithstanding the fact that we both are employed and study law.

    The Newman Center has grown under his leadership; all the while he has, as he is duty-bound to do, faithfully and clearly, and unequivocally taught Catholic theology.

    I stand in solidarity with this priest of God. I thank him for his ministry.

  • Ethan George

    GWU’s Hatchet — perfect name for it– is “truth by pelvis.” All truth must be bent to fit their desires.

  • Christine Gockman

    Father Greg is doing the job he is meant to do. He should NEVER be told to change. If some students don’t like what they are hearing, let them exercise their freedom to go SOMEPLACE else!

  • Marissa Brown

    This priest, as well as practicing Catholics do so much for those in community and the world. They feed the hungry, cloth the naked, love those who are unloved and give shelter to those in need. That is just to name a few of the wonderful ministries the Church is about. The is also the teachings of the church that will not be swayed by popular culture, it sounds as if this priest is standing his ground with the teaching of the Church. Open up your hearts and minds to what he is doing and don’t punish the man for standing up for his Faith. I will be praying for the GW community from all the way across the country.

  • Charles Sommer


    Actually, all of us humans are “abominations” and “deviant” because of our sins. God does tell us that we are sinners and calls us to lives of repentance and holiness, no matter what the temptations are in our lives. I think it is horrible that someone can be persecuted for preaching the Gospel, but it doesn’t surprise me; after all, it’s been going on for some time.

    By the way, even if Jesus didn’t speak explicitly on homosexual sins, the OT did and Paul does. He also calls us heterosexuals to lives of chastity.
    Remember the words to the woman caught in adultery: “Neither do I condemn you. Now go and SIN NO MORE.”

    Dr. Charles Sommer
    University of St. Thomas

    • Antonio A. Badilla

      Thank you for sharing Dr. Sommer but I don’t consider myself an “abomination” or “deviant,” but a human being made in the image and likeness of God.

  • Tica

    This is ridiculous! The teachings of the Church cannot be changed to your own convenience so like it or not, a marriage is for one man and one woman and don’t try o change that! That’s what our Catholic Faith teaches and if you don’t believe in it, you are not a true Catholic! We need to pray so much!!!!



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