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

  • Sierra

    I am a Catholic woman and stand firm by my beliefs, but there are some issues with this article and things that are just not accurate.

    The students have vehemently stated that they are not seeking to have Fr. Greg removed from GW or GW’s campus. They are not.

    They are also not against his beliefs. They both practice Catholicism and one is a Catholic priest. What the two guys are against is him making anti-gay remarks which drive gay students away from the Church. I am an LGBT female Catholic. I was born this way. I have no choice but to be me. Believe me– it is much more difficult to be gay than it is to be straight. I practice my beliefs and know that God loves me for who I am. Jesus, in his doctrine of love, would not drive others away– regardless of his teachings. Rather, he would find ways to use other teachings to embrace and love them.

    When my faith (the Catholic faith) is not couple with homophobia, it is a beautiful thing. When it is couple with homophobia, we are able find excuses to reject each other. There is no room for rejecting anyone, regardless of religion, race, or creed, in Catholicism.

    • BenYachov

      I’m sure you mean well lady but you do not have a clue.

      First one of them is not a “Catholic” Priest. Legacy had himself ordained a Priest by a Schismatic Old Catholic bishop. Now maybe this holy orders are valid maybe not. Even if they are that no more makes him “Catholic” then an Eastern Orthodox priest is Catholic. Also Canon Law explicitly says it is a schismatic act to receive illicit or irregular holy Orders. That alone cuts him off from the Church regardless of his personal life.

      Being Gay is not morally or objectively the same as being Black or of some specific race.

      Homosexuality is a behavior & as such is subject to moral evaluation. Thus it is in no way the same as the Priest using a racial slur which would be both unreasonable and a sin against charity.

      Natural Law Philosophy(which the Church excepts) and Divine Revelation as believed and taught by the Church objectively teaches that “sexual relationships between persons of the same sex are unnatural and immoral.”

      That is no different then the Priest saying “God is three Hypostasis’ in One Divine Nature”.

      Sure a Muslim whose Koran says “He is an infidel who says God is Three” doesn’t accept that but I don’t see any Muslims calling for Father’s ouster if he merely stated Catholic doctrine.

      Also as for the statement “They know it in their hearts,” Biblical Doctrine also teaches God wrote the Natural Law on the hearts of men. Which is why we have an innate sense of right and wrong.

      “Fr” Legacy and his boyfriend are nothing more than politically correct bigots and fascists trying to punish Fr Greg for his beliefs with their phony outrage. The same with all their supporters. No exceptions.

      They are also stupid for acting surprised the Church teaches gay sex is immoral.

      Anyone who supports Legacy simply hates the First Amendment. It’s that simple.

    • BenYachov

      Or to put it another way. If Fr Greg choose to channel Fred Phelps & called these young men the f-word(i.e. the word used to describe cigarettes in the UK) or singled them out by name and attacked them publicly for their sins(which would be the sin of detraction)
      then he should be kicked off campus and the Bishop should put the Kybosh on em.

      But if merely stating Catholic Doctrine on a Blog is “hate speech” then it will be a dark day for Catholic freedom in the USA.

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  • Jo DeFosse

    As an adult convert, I deeply respect Father Shaffer for teaching the real faith of the Church. Without clear direction, the faithful will be led astray by our secular society, even as they believe they are trying to live a Catholic life. Please continue to regard souls as a higher calling than “feelings”. I have added Father Shaffer to my daily prayer list and will ask the Lord to give him the strength he needs to feed God’s children.

  • Kristin Treacy

    Thanks Fr. Greg for teaching the Catholic faith to our youth!!! You are in my prayers!!

  • Theresa

    Great article! Thank you Fr Greg for standing firm for the truth. Those who persecute you for your faith will one day understand how terribly wrong they are!

  • SAA5of5

    It’s this simple: When you don’t believe in objective truth it becomes all about subjective feelings. One or two people can object and a faithful priest has to fear the loss of his ministry, just like that? One person can say they know a dozen others who don’t go to church somehow because of him? What about life-changing grace that comes from the Sacraments properly received? This whole thing makes no sense to me. Catholics are being supported in their Catholic faith. If they don’t believe or refuse to be faithful to the Church’s teaching, they can freely choose to leave. No one is forcing them and they’ll be welcomed back with open arms if/when they want to come home.



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