The administrator of a Catholic high school in New York wrote to his students' parents this week to explain why a gay couple at the all-boys school is being allowed to attend the junior prom together.
Father Edward Salmon, president of McQuaid Jesuit High School in Brighton, explained that the boys "will be welcomed" as a couple, even though he insisted the gesture of acceptance is not meant to condone homosexuality or go against church law in any way. His full letter, sent Wednesday, was published Thursday by local news website rochesterhomepage.net.
For Salmon, the acceptance represents the success of a student-driven campaign to allow the boys to attend their junior prom together. The school's administrator described the emotions that campaign generated as "darkness and heavy clouds," leading to the spread of "misinformation, fear, misunderstanding, and even anger."
"Into the darkness of misinformation, fear, misunderstanding and anger, together with Pope Francis, I invite and encourage each and every one of us in the McQuaid family to be men and women who bring hope to one another," Father Salmon wrote. "I invite and encourage each and every one of us in the McQuaid family to be men and women who look upon one another with tenderness and love. I invite and encourage each and every one of us in the McQuaid family to open up a horizon of hope, to let a ray of light break through heavy clouds."
He added that despite rumors of a decision against the boys' request, no decision had previously been made. Then, citing a message from the Conference of Catholic Bishops, Salmon urged the faithful "to confront their own fears about homosexuality and to curb the humor and discrimination that offend homosexual persons. We understand that having a homosexual orientation brings with it enough anxiety, pain and issues related to self-acceptance without society bringing additional prejudicial treatment."
He concluded by announcing: "I have made the decision that, if our two brothers who have asked to attend the Junior Ball together wish to do so, they will be welcomed."
The gesture may not seem like much, but in the broader context of how high school proms have often been used to demonstrate anti-LGBT feelings in recent years, outreach of this kind is uncommon. This is especially true for Christians, whose religious fervor is largely seen as driving the anti-LGBT movement.
(H/T: The Advocate)