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St. Anselm College monk: Knights of Columbus student should have kept gay relationship under wraps

By MARK HAYWARD
New Hampshire Union Leader

May 16. 2018 4:34PM


MANCHESTER — A St. Anselm College senior was pressured to resign his leadership post on the college chapter of Knights of Columbus after he brought a male date to the organization’s formal, according to two publications.

Andrew Keyes, who is scheduled to graduate on Saturday, resigned the position of Grand Knight in March when asked by the Rev. Benedict Guevin, a Benedictine monk who teaches at the college and is chaplain of the Knights chapter, according to an online article in the Jesuit magazine “America.”

“A lot of the seniors knew I was bringing my boyfriend,” Keyes told the magazine.

In an email, Guevin said Keyes was the face of a Catholic association on campus, and as such had the responsibility to uphold the teachings of the Church.

“He knew that this was the expectation but decided to act otherwise,” Guevin wrote. “So it was because of the confusion and doubt regarding Church teaching that I asked for his resignation. To do otherwise would have implicated me in this confusion, something that my conscience could not allow.”
The actions have drawn the notice of Catholic publications, blogs and advocacy groups.

“This is so out of step with what other Catholic colleges are doing,” said Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, which promotes justice and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Catholics. For years, he said, St. Anselm College has been on the organization’s list of LGBT-friendly Catholic colleges; two weeks ago the college hosted its first LGBT Day of Visibility.

The Knights of Columbus incident was detailed in a May 11 article in “America” and an April 16 article in “Hilltopper,” an independent publication that covers St. Anselm College.

Keyes told the “Hilltopper” that the formal, which was held on campus in a fellow student’s apartment, was uneventful. But within a few days, he received a text from a fellow student. The student told him to resign, or the student would have him removed.

“It was inappropriate for Mr. Keyes to hold a leadership position for a Catholic organization while being in a relationship that is contrary to the teachings of Holy Mother Church,” the student, Andrew Cilento, told “Hilltopper.”

Keyes said a lunch followed with Guevin when he was asked to resign.

Keyes told “America” that he agreed to resign but said he was surprised at the request because of what he was able to accomplish during his tenure.

He expressed pride in recruiting 12 new Knights, the most that have joined in recent years. He also said the Knights expanded fundraising and engagement with other student organizations this school year.

On the college website, St. Anselm said its chapter is one of the strongest of the 140 college Knights of Columbus chapters in North America and does volunteer and fundraising efforts for shelters, kitchens and seminaries. “In short, membership in our organization provides the student with ample opportunities to exercise positions of leadership and responsibility, and most importantly, to serve others in charity,” the site reads.

Keyes told “Hilltopper” that a few Knights may have been disgusted by his bringing a boyfriend to the party, but others have been supportive. Some have resigned in solidarity, and some have suggested the Council should be dissolved, according to Keyes.

DeBernardo said about two-thirds of Catholic colleges are on his list of LGBT-friendly universities; Rivier University in Nashua is the only other New Hampshire college.

St. Anselm College spokesman Michelle Adams O’Regan said the Knights of Columbus Council is not a student-funded or college-funded organization.

“It operates under the authority of the Knights of Columbus headquarters in New Haven, Conn. Saint Anselm College has no authority over action taken by its membership, the chapter chaplain or the organization’s national office,” O’Regan said.

There is some uncertainty in who pushed for the resignation.

“Hilltopper” reported that the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus had urged Guevin to ask for the resignation. But the Supreme Council told America that “it is not our practice to make a determination on someone’s Catholicity” and “the Supreme Council did not direct the local chapter to take action on this issue.”

DeBernardo said Guevin should have dismissed any complaint against Keyes in the spirit of Catholic social justice, which treats all individuals with dignity and respect.

“This individual did not have to cave to the pressure of one complaint,” DeBernardo said.

mhayward@unionleader.com


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