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Iowa diocese reaches ‘compromise’ on scholarship award for gay student

Catholic World News - May 14, 2012

The Diocese of Davenport has reached a “compromise” that will permit a representative of a foundation founded by a gay activist to present a scholarship award to an openly gay student at a Catholic high school.

Staff at Prince of Peace Catholic School encouraged Keaton Fuller, a senior, to apply for the Eychenar Foundation’s Matthew Shepard Scholarship and wrote letters of recommendation on his behalf. According to the foundation, the scholarship is awarded to “openly LGBT Iowa high school seniors with a GPA of 3.0 or better on a 4.0 scale, an ACT score of 22 or better, demonstratable [sic] LGBT activism and community service, and a history of high moral and ethical standards and conduct.”

School officials also permitted Fuller to attend the school prom as part of a same-sex couple.

After the foundation decided to award a scholarship to Fuller, school staff told the foundation that a foundation representative would be permitted to present the award to Fuller. Later, Bishop Martin Amos “expressed his congratulations for Keaton’s reception of the award and recognized his hard work in achieving it”; at the same time, the diocese ruled that school officials, rather than Eychenar Foundation staff, would present the award to Fuller, since “we cannot allow any one or any organization which promotes a position that is contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church to present at a diocesan institution.”

Under the “compromise,” however, an Eychenar Foundation will be permitted to present the award to Fuller but will not be permitted to speak; diocesan spokesman David Montgomery explained that “we meant to say ‘speaking,’” rather than “presenting,” was forbidden under diocesan policy.

Instead, “Dr. Lee Morrison, diocesan superintendent of schools, will read a script prepared by the Eychaner Foundation, which was reviewed and approved by the Most Rev. Martin J. Amos, Bishop of Davenport,” according to a diocesan statement.

“Principles of mutual respect and careful listening exhibited by all parties allowed a solution to emerge,” said Bishop Amos.

“We have many things we agree upon, and have also agreed to accept the fact that we also have some things we disagree about,” the bishop added. “But that shouldn’t prevent all of us from celebrating Keaton Fuller’s success over 13 years in Catholic schools and our mutual hope for his success in college and beyond.”

“I leave Prince of Peace, it’s comforting to know that this experience may make it easier for the next gay student who attends this school,” said Fuller. “This school has taught us time and time again that we are all made equally, and we all must continue to spread that message through our words and our actions.”

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  • Posted by: Defender - May. 14, 2012 11:52 AM ET USA

    This isn't a compromise, it's a surrender to perceived bad publicity. This is precisely why the loyal laity has problems with bishops - too many don't stand their ground and say, "No, this isn't right...this is what we believe and this is a Catholic school and this is how it will be!"

  • Posted by: Lucius49 - May. 14, 2012 10:59 AM ET USA

    This was not a compromise. This was a surrender. Exhibit A: the student in question was allowed to attend the prom as as a same sex couple. Exhibit B: the premise of openly gay was never challenged. The ordinary Catholic is going to perceive it as I know the Church teaches this is contrary to God's plan but they are going to have to accomodate it.The whole point of this is pressure on the Church to accept gay ideology which is distinct from pastoral care of a person with homosexual inclinations

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