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The Carroll News

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The Carroll News

“Theology of the Body”: The drag alternative dialogue

What this discourse means inside and outside of the university
Evan Donovan
Slide from “Theology of Body”

At 6:00 p.m. on Friday, April 5, members of the John Carroll University chapter of the Knights of Columbus Council (KOCC) and Agape met to discuss a dialogue around chastity, sexuality, and Catholic beliefs. Despite the polarization of this topic, Richard Grasso ‘24, KOCC President and Council Grand Knight, told The Carroll News that this discussion was not meant to “attack, but rather to provide an alternative Catholic perspective” on a topic that should be tackled in a loving manner.

Though this was an officially sanctioned discussion on JCU’s campus, the Fariccini family, including their 5 children, protested outside of Biggby Coffee on John Carroll Boulevard, asking passersby to “Honk for Catholic Values.” She also claimed that she was warned of the event by a JCU Staff member.

One of the younger Faricinni’s told The Carroll News, “We partake in Rosary prayer groups, such as America needs Fatima, about every month… praying for the conversion of America.”

Mrs. Faricinni stated to round out the discussion that overall she and her family support “traditional values, and traditional marriage.”

Paul Overa ‘27, a JCU student, mentioned that “on one hand, they said that God loves all people, but this is a direct attack on the Queer community, and they are being hypocritical themselves, and they can’t say God loves everyone, and support hypocritical policies. The drag queen show is not hurting anyone.”

Grasso and Melina Shultz ‘24, both of whom are deeply involved in Catholic catechism on campus, felt a need to discuss outside of the panel at the “Gender as Power & Performance.”

According to these students, from a Catholic perspective, the show and panel being performed were an “incomplete dialogue” around such expression, and as such, they wished to add their perspective (a religious one) to the wider discussion we are having at John Carroll.

The event started with the fourteen participants being led in a Rosary prayer, in the hopes of grounding the conversation in faith and starting the talk in the right spirit. Next, Grasso and Shultz gave their presentation, “Theology and Body”; which cited an Apostolic letter written by St. John Paul II (“Rosarium Virginis Mariae”) alongside some of his other writings and a video presentation from Ascension Presents on “Sexuality, Gender & Discovering Catholicism.” The video discussed the life of Hudson, whose “story relives how those who have homosexual or LGBT attractions are still sons and daughters of God first” and his “desire to love Christ.” Throughout the video, Hudson’s choice of religious life, over his homosexuality is stressed by being accepting of his identity but placing priority on his religion; it contextualizes how Catholics should aspire to examine and act when confronted with these topics.

Shultz said that “we are human, beautiful and made in his image” and that this is the groundwork on which the conversation around sexuality and gender. In this context, both “sexuality and gender are different,” she said, but also they are “inseparable.”

In both of these conversations, as well as the final section of the dialogue, a question-and-answer section, the speakers and the attendees stressed one keynote: loving personal reflection is key. So on discussions of chastity, homosexuality, and gender topics, the idea is and continues to be that Catholics look to scripture and expertise to guide the everyday discussion of and reaction to these different perspectives – and to answer them as accepting but firm Catholics.

When discussing particular scriptures, Grasso reflected on 1 Corinthians 13:1, and that this letter specifically references the ”desire to speak what we see as the truth based on our faith with love.”

In combination with this view, Grasso also pointed out that after the “Theology of the Body” discussion, the Vatican released the “Declaration of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith ‘Dignitas Infinita’ on Human Dignity” on Monday, April 8, which discusses much of what Shultz and viewed as key to human dignity, including the inviolable “individual substance” of the person.

Although this event and the Drag Show were held on opposite sides of campus, the goal was to create a community dialogue.

View Comments (3)

Comments (3)

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  • J

    JCU StudentApr 18, 2024 at 12:07 pm

    I resent the implication that Grasso and Shultz represent *the* Catholic position, such that anyone who disagrees with them is somehow a lesser Catholic or not a Catholic at all. It took centuries for the Church’s teachings on certain issues–e.g., science, evolution, ecumenism, slavery, etc. — to evolve. Homophobic and anti-trans “Catholics” are just the latest in a long line of backwards-looking reactionaries who try to stand in the way of progress. This current crop of reactionaries will eventually lose, just as all of their predecessors did.

    • J

      JCU AlumApr 19, 2024 at 11:44 am

      “The” Catholic position *is* what they seem to have been discussing and promoting.

      Catholics are called to live chastely outside of marriage, and your sexual inclinations do not change that — gay, straight, or otherwise. Much of the problem is that people want affirmation that what they are doing is right, whether it is or not. If in someone’s heart, what they are doing is truly right, they will not need the world to confirm that for them; they have no question. I’ll share some of what I told some relatives of mine when they told me they were a different gender: Don’t let how you “identify” define you. If someone sees someone and the first thing they think is, “oh, they are trans,” they have failed. Character should come first, and so many people have none anymore.

      In the eyes of the Church, promoting and acting on sexual urges outside of marriage is not acceptable (feel free to read up on Catholic doctrine and refer to the Catechism of the Catholic Church), and thankfully, there are still students at JCU willing to stand up for their faith, despite the hate they are obviously receiving in return. Whenever someone disagrees with you, it does not automatically qualify them as “homophobic, anti-trans”, etc. It is not the person, it is the lifestyle that is now promoted to the point of forceful acceptance or fear being called a hateful bigot. I’d go out on a very short limb and say there are a lot more faithful Catholics on campus, but they stay in their lane for fear of the backlash of the loud and proud.

      • J

        JCU StudentApr 19, 2024 at 4:11 pm

        I just eyerolled so hard that I think I injured myself. In any case, thank you for proving my point. I’ll stop calling people like you bigots when you stop calling my faithfulness as a Catholic into question. (Honestly, I’d take such accusations a lot more seriously if the people who made them cared at least as much about the corporal works of mercy and bringing good news to the poor as they do about micromanaging peoples’ sex lives, or if they would stop prattling on about how sacred life is while simultaneously supporting war and the destruction of the natural world.)