Two Catholic High Schools in Indiana Ordered to Fire Married Homosexual Teachers; One Refuses to Do So

Students at Cathedral High School in Indianapolis. Photo courtesy of Google Maps

A pair of schools in Indiana drew national attention to the Catholic Church’s attempts to grapple with LGBTQ relationships this month, highlighting the church’s complex position in a country increasingly welcoming to different sexual identities.

The controversy began when it was revealed that the Archdiocese of Indianapolis would strip Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School of its status as a Catholic school because administrators refused to fire a teacher who is married to a same-sex partner.

Just a few days later, the nearby Cathedral High School — which is also Catholic — announced that it would fire a teacher who was openly gay after being threatened with the same result by the archbishop.

Then came the plot twist: The two teachers are married to each other.

But where did the controversy come from, why did only one school fire its employee, and what gives the church the right to do this in the first place?

As it turns out, the answers to these questions are a tangled web of both canon and secular law.

Catholic leaders have been firing gay employees for a while

The debate in Indiana is only the latest chapter in an ongoing controversy over gay Catholic employees that stretches back several years.

While it’s difficult to pinpoint the first instance of an employee of a Catholic institution being fired for being in a same-sex relationship, the public debate over the issue began to heat up around 2014, when a food pantry worker and a music director were both fired from Catholic institutions for being relationships with someone of the same sex.

The following year, at least two openly gay teachers were either fired or denied jobs at Catholic schools.

While some institutions attempted to change policies after the firings garnered media attention, Catholic leaders and administrators generally justified their decisions by pointing to the catechism of the Catholic Church, which refers to “homosexual tendencies” as “objectively disordered.”

A solid majority of Catholics hold a very different view: As of 2017, 67% of American Catholics supported same-sex marriage, according to the Pew Research Center.

Even as rank-and-file American Catholics expressed outrage at the firings, however, a subtext emerged: Catholic leaders were not necessarily probing the private lives of their employees, but appeared primarily concerned with whether their employees were gay in public.

In 2015, for example, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, head of the San Francisco Archdiocese, distributed a new handbook for teachers at Catholic schools under his purview instructing them to refrain from “visibly” contradicting the church’s teachings on homosexuality and other issues such as abortion or birth control.

Similarly, after same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide that same year, the archbishop of Miami sent a letter to his employees warning that they could be fired for posting anything to social media that expressed support for same-sex marriage.

“Employees will witness by their public behavior, actions and words a life consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church,” wrote the archbishop, Thomas Wenski.

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Source: Religion News Service

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