A Jesuit high school in Indiana can no longer call itself “Catholic” because it refused to terminate the employment of a gay teacher.
Archbishop Charles Thompson’s decree, dated June 21, means that Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis will no longer be recognized or identified as a Catholic institution within the archdiocese.”To effectively bear witness to Christ, whether they teach religion or not, all ministers in their professional and private lives must convey and be supportive of Catholic Church teaching,” the Archdiocese of Indiana said in a statement on Thursday.The Archdiocese said they tried but failed to reach an agreement with the Jesuit school. The conflict pits the Jesuits, an order of priests known for educating generations of Catholics, against the church’s powerful hierarchy. It’s also the latest battle between Catholic schools who want to employ gay and lesbian teachers against bishops who insist that all employees toe the line on Catholic doctrine. What makes this conflict unusual is that Jesuits and their schools enjoy a degree of independence from the church hierarchy. In contrast to other Catholic schools forced to fire gay teachers, the Jesuits rejected Thompson’s request to remove the teacher.
“It is rare for a Catholic institution not only to side with its LGBT faculty members, but also do so in the face of such fierce opposition from a bishop,” said the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author of “Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity.””In this case, it is also rare that a bishop would go so far as to publicly remove the designation ‘Catholic’ from the school,” continued Martin, who is based in New York and not affiliated with the school. The Catholic catechism teaches that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered” but also that LGBT people “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”In a statement, three trustees from Brebeuf Jesuit Prep School said it has “respectfully declined the Archdiocese’s insistence and directive that we dismiss a highly capable and qualified teacher due to the teacher being a spouse within a civilly recognized same-sex marriage.”
James Martin, a Jesuit priest took to Twitter to blast the decision of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.
Here is why the Archdiocese of Indianapolis is unjustly targeting LGBT people. Their statement about
#Brebeuf reads: “Whether they teach religion or not, all ministers in their professional and private lives must convey and be supportive of Catholic Church teaching.”
If employees’ “professional and private lives must convey and be supportive of Catholic Church teaching” that means that, to be consistent, all Catholic institutions (schools, parishes, hospitals, retreat centers) in the Archdiocese would also have to fire the following people:
1) Catholic straight individuals living with someone before being married.
2) Catholic married couples who use birth control.
3) Catholic straight individuals who are divorced and remarried without an annulment.
4) Catholic couples who use in vitro fertilization.
But “Catholic Church teaching” is not simply about sexual morality; it is much broader than that. It includes a wide variety of other teachings, in a great many areas. And so schools would also have to fire:
5) Catholics who do not go to Mass.
6) Catholics who do not support church teaching on the environment (“Laudato Si,” on the environment, is an encyclical on the same level as “Humanae Vitae,” on birth control).
7) Catholics who do not support church teaching on the death penalty.
And “Catholic church teaching” is still much broader. It is, at the most basic level, the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. So schools would also have to fire:
8) Catholics who do not give to the poor.
9) Catholics who do not forgive.
10) Catholics who are not loving.
Moreover, if an employee’s life must “convey” and “support” Catholic teaching, then, quite obviously, schools would have to fire:
LGBT people are the only ones being targeted in this way. They are the only ones whose sexual lives are investigated in this way. (To be clear, schools could easily investigate all the other categories mentioned.) This is “unjust discrimination,” as mentioned in the Catechism.
And it must cease. Brebeuf’s willingness to stand with its LGBT employees, and its unwillingness to participate in the targeting of LGBT people is a necessary and courageous stance. It has been supported by the Jesuit Provincial Superior in the Midwest.
It is the most Catholic thing that the school, and the Jesuits, could do.