An Indiana Catholic high school fired a teacher in a same-sex marriage this week, becoming the second Catholic school in a week to wrestle with archdiocese directives concerning LGBT school employees.
After 22 months of deliberation with Indianapolis Archbishop Charles Thompson, Cathedral High School announced the termination on Sunday. In a letter on the school’s website, Cathedral’s board of directors Chairman Matt Cohoat and President Rob Bridges said the decision, although “agonizing,” was in the school’s best interest. “Archbishop Thompson made it clear that Cathedral’s continued employment of a teacher in a public, same-sex marriage would result in our forfeiting our Catholic identity due to our employment of an individual living in contradiction to Catholic teaching on marriage,” the statement said.
The archdiocese in a Monday statement said the firing wasn’t about sexual orientation, but about Catholic school personnel, who administer the faith, following Catholic teachings: “If and when a minister of the faith is publicly not doing so, the Church calls us to help the individual strive to live a life in accordance with Catholic teaching.”
The announcement comes days after the archdiocese cut ties with nearby Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School for refusing to fire a longtime employee who was gay. The Midwest Province of Jesuits oversees Brebeuf so its separation from the archdiocese had little effect on the school. But Cathedral had much more to lose: The school depends heavily on the archdiocese, and defiance would have cost its nonprofit status and participation in sacramental practices.
Catholic LGBT advocacy group New Ways Ministry condemned Thompson’s mandate. “It’s only going to harm people in the church who are justifiably angry when an archbishop responds in such a totalitarian way by giving ultimatums,” said Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry.
Thompson pushed back at a news conference Thursday. He said his responsibility is to hold the Catholic community in Indianapolis to the church’s teaching, including its doctrine on the sanctity of marriage. “Our society places great emphasis on tolerance, which is kind of like live and let live,” said Thompson. “But Jesus calls us to more than tolerance, Jesus calls us to love. And love is sacrificial.” —Loren Skinker