Catholic Diocese Condones Purdue Parish Presence at OUToberfest

Washington, D.C. (20 October 2008) – An American Life League supporter and Purdue University student is taking the Diocese of Lafayette, Indiana to task for condoning St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church's participation, along with Planned Parenthood of Indiana, in OUToberfest 2008, a gay pride event.

Naomi Whittaker, ALL supporter and senior neural biology and physiology major at Purdue University, wrote to the diocese Oct. 10 expressing concern over the OUToberfest 2008: Tippecanoe County Pride Celebration to be held Oct. 11. The event marked National Coming Out Day.

"I respectfully request that St. Thomas Aquinas be held responsible to the teachings and traditions of the Roman Catholic Church," Whittaker requested in the letter. "Please let me know if there is anything more I can do to protect the sanctity of the Catholic Church's teachings."

On Oct. 13, Bishop William L. Higi responded to Whittaker through Rev. Msgr. Robert L. Sell.

"…the participation of the parish was in conjunction with other Christian Churches of the area who were reaching out in solidarity to homosexual persons as children of Our Loving God," Sell said. "He (the parish pastor) assured me that this effort was not condoning a particular lifestyle or choice, but was seeking to join other Christian Denominations who participated in the event in an effort to demonstrate to homosexual persons the outreach and concern that our Faith has for them."

American Life League has written to request that the diocese issue a written statement to dispel confusion over the Catholic Church's teaching on abortion and homosexuality.

"It is absolutely outrageous for a Catholic church to stand alongside Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider, and give implicit endorsement of an event and lifestyle antithetical to the Catholic faith," said Jim Sedlak, vice president of American Life League.

Among the registered participants at the event, St. Thomas Church, the parish serving Purdue University, was listed alongside Planned Parenthood of Indiana, Purdue Queer Student Union, Pride Lafayette, Inc., and Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays among others.

The event featured a drag show and a myriad of gay and lesbian workshops for children.

"St. Thomas Aquinas' participation, alongside Planned Parenthood, in this event is a scandal," Sedlak said. "At a time when many Catholics are faithfully trying to close down Planned Parenthood facilities in the state, this partnering with Planned Parenthood by a diocesan parish is outrageous. We implore Bishop Higi to take immediate action to publicly acknowledge the error made in this participation, and to reaffirm that no diocesan entity should ever join Planned Parenthood at any event."

American Life League was cofounded in 1979 by Judie Brown. It is the largest grassroots Catholic pro-life organization in the United States and is committed to the protection of all innocent human beings from the moment of creation to death. For more information or media inquiries, please contact Katie Walker at 540.659.4942.