The recent report in The New York Times got some lively reaction around the country — and CNA has this response from a group of Harvard Catholics:

The Harvard Catholic Center on Monday clarified reports of the university’s new atheist “chief chaplain,” saying the position is administrative and will not affect the center’s Catholic mission.

Last week the New York Times announced that Greg Epstein, an atheist and humanist chaplain at Harvard University, was elected as the “chief chaplain” of the Harvard Chaplains, the association of more than 40 chaplains serving Harvard students of various religious denominations.

Epstein heads the school’s humanist chaplaincy, which represents humanists, agnostics, and atheists. The Times reported his work as “reflecting a broader trend of young people across the United States who increasingly identify as spiritual but religiously nonaffiliated.”

“His role is not as the chief chaplain,” said Nico Quesada, marketing and media director at the Harvard Catholic Center, to CNA on Monday. “It is actually as the president of the Harvard Chaplains.”

Quesada told CNA that Epstein’s role as president of the university’s chaplains will be purely administrative.

“There really is no influence in the role other than the fact that he has the title as the president as the Harvard Chaplains and that he’s the liaison between that group and the president of Harvard,” Quesada said. He added that Epstein, in his new role, “is just carrying on the message from the Harvard Chaplains to the president of Harvard,” and is “under watch of his colleagues.”

Another of Epstein’s duties will be to convene all the chaplains when they have matters to discuss, Quesada said.

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