Chapel displays gay pride flag
Rev. Walter Cuenin draped a pink cloth across the chapel’s alter for Breast Cancer Awareness month.This month, a rainbow flag was draped across the Bethlehem Chapel and a pink cloth across the altar. They are on display to recognize both Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer History Month, as well as Breast Cancer Awareness Month throughout October.
In an interview with the Justice, Rev. Walter Cuenin, the University’s Catholic chaplain and coordinator of the Interfaith Chaplaincy, explained the chapel’s display and its significance in detail. He described the flag right beside the chapel as an “enormous gay pride flag.” He also mentioned that a pink cloth covers the altar and added that there are also pink candles in the chapel. Cuenin said that he wanted students to be aware of issues regarding discrimination pertaining to the LGBTQ community and breast cancer awareness and research.
Regarding breast cancer awareness, Cuenin expressed concern that women’s health has not garnered enough attention in society, and said that he hopes that the displays in the chapel will help students to become more aware.
Cuenin acknowledged that a priest hanging an LGBTQ pride flag outside of the chapel might be a bit of a surprise, stating that many believe “a priest would never do that,” given the Catholic Church’s stance that homosexuality is morally wrong. He said he feels deeply that there needs to be more focus on how people act outside of the Church as opposed to good deeds and social activism being confined to the Church. He went on to say that he also wants to be able to welcome the LGBTQ community into the church at Brandeis, which includes students, faculty and members outside of the Brandeis community.
Cuenin mentioned that students were very passionate about seeing the LGBTQ pride flag displayed beside the chapel, specifically noting Noah Litwer ’15. Cuenin said that Litwer was instrumental in helping to initiate the campaign. In an interview with the Justice, Litwer said that he was glad that the chapel is now displaying the LGBTQ Flag. He stated that many of the voices from student organizations and administration bring a “limited scope of perspectives.” Litwer said that he hopes that with the display of the pride flag outside the chapel, the voices of the LGBTQ community will be heard by students, faculty, administrators and other visitors to campus. He also said that he hopes the LGBTQ community will feel welcome in the Catholic chapel. He said that religious leaders are responsible for representing all of their followers and congregants.
Litwer described Brandeis as “one big community” and noted that the pride flag is a visual symbol for the LGBTQ community to feel included in Brandeis Catholic life. “At the end of the day, diversity is really what makes human innovation possible,” Litwer said.