The Bishop of Worcester has issued a sharp rebuke to the College of the Holy Cross after it came to light that its Chair of New Testament Studies, Tat-siong Benny Liew, had written a book a decade ago suggesting that Christ was a “drag king” who had “queer desires.”
In a March 30 statement published on the Diocese of Worcester’s website, Bishop Robert McManus called for the college to ask Liew to clarify his views on the nature of Christ, and ask him to disavow his previous writings, or at the very least clarify whether or not he still would defend his past views.
“In light of the controversy caused by Professor Liew’s writings, Holy Cross has a duty to, at least, ask Professor Liew if he rejects the biblical positions he penned some ten years ago or if he supports and defends those positions today,” said McManus.
If Liew were to walk back his past claims, McManus said he should do so in a public manner, “as so not to create confusion” about Christ’s nature.
If he does not, McManus said that the school is risking the integrity of its religious mission.
“If he does not, then it is my duty as the Bishop of Worcester to clearly state that such teaching is a danger to the integrity of the Catholic faith and, in prudence, warn the Catholic faithful committed to my pastoral care that such unorthodox teaching has no place in a Catholic College whose mission is to promote and cultivate the Catholic intellectual tradition.”
Bishop McManus said the conclusions Liew reached are “both false and perverse,” and he was “particularly concerned” that his book was displayed by the Religious Studies Department.
College of the Holy Cross President Fr. Philip Boroughs, SJ defended Liew, saying that while he disagreed with his ideas and interpretation of Christ and his sexuality, “Academic freedom is one of the hallmarks of a liberal arts education.”
McManus took issue with Boroughs’ defense, saying that while academic freedom is indeed a “critical” part of a Catholic institution, “how that academic freedom is exercised, particularly in the fields of Theology or Religious Studies, cannot provide cover for blatantly unorthodox teaching.”
Liew’s writings became widely known after an article written by Holy Cross senior Elinor Reilly was published last month in the independent campus publication The Fenwick Review. A group is planning a demonstration and public rosary on campus asking Liew either to “disavow his attack against Christ” or to quit his position.
The College of the Holy Cross did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.