On September 16, Fordham University held a conference on “Sexual Diversity in the Catholic Church.” It was the first of a four-part series; Union Theological Seminary, Yale Divinity School and Fairfield University will also host conferences on related issues.

Bill Donohue addressed the conference saying: “It is fitting that the Catholic Church is the only religion being targeted by the dissidents. After all, the mainline Protestant denominations have succumbed to the dominant culture, so there is nothing to protest anymore.” Among the speakers at the event were Sr. Jeannine Gramick, Paul Lakeland, Dan Savage and Jamie Manson.

Gramick is known for her defense of child rapist Paul Shanley. Lakeland is known for his defense of an attempt by state lawmakers in Connecticut to strip bishops and pastors of their financial authority. Savage is known for his advice on anal sex, advising his readers not to worry about leaking from the rectum. “I’ll betcha the pope’s a** is leaking all over the throne of St. Peter right now,” he wrote in 2009. Manson is known as a lesbian activist who recently said that “a number of U.S. bishops spent their summer continuing to undermine the health and welfare” of women and children. She also touted the Fordham conference by saying, “Some panelists are heterosexual.” It is not certain how many are “queer,” the preferred word of the panelists to describe homosexuals.

Lakeland, who teaches Catholic Studies at Jesuit-run Fairfield University, is the series organizer. “In the Catholic tradition, in the Catholic church, there is the church, and there isn’t really anything else,” he said. Brilliant. It could also be said, “At the New York Times, there is the editorial board, and there isn’t really anything else.”

If a professor at Fordham or Fairfield wanted to host a conference on “Racial Diversity,” bringing in noted racists to offer an alternative perspective to the Church’s teachings, he would be kicked out. But when it comes to “Sexual Diversity,” the more queer the conference, the better.

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