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Unjust Discrimination? (UPDATED)

The obituary for the mother of a (Methodist) female gym teacher at a Catholic high school in Ohio mentions said gym teacher's female partner. Gym teacher is promptly fired. Maybe Cardinal Dolan should get Bishop Campbell on the horn and explain to him that Catholics are supposed to "try our darndest to make sure we're not anti-anybody." (HT Balloon Juice)UPDATE: Here's a link to the obit. It's just sad. And, to be honest, I'm sick of this stuff happening in my name as a Catholic. At some point, doesn't toothless dissent become complicity?UPDATE II: Here's a very moving interview with the teacher. I wonder what impact this firing will have on the young students' relationship with their church. I don't even know this woman and it's testing mine.

And here's Bryan Fischer, defending the termination. My mom has always said you can tell a lot about someone by who their friends are.

 

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Eduardo Moisés Peñalver is the Allan R. Tessler Dean of the Cornell Law School. He is the author of numerous books and articles on the subjects of property and land use law.

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Ann Oliver- When I was a young woman (1960s) people did lose their jobs over issues of sexual morality. A friend of mine (same age) was fired when she became pregnant out of wedlock. Gay people were certainly fired. My father, the head of a department at a public college, was frustrated for years over his inability to prove that a certain professor was gay, so as to get him fired. (There was no suggestion the man was having sex with students.) My first real job had health insurance that explicetly did NOT cover childbirth if a female employee became pregnant out of wedlock.Even today, some universities discipline female students who get pregnant out of wedlock. This came up in the wonderful blog "Experimental Theology" written by a professor at Abilene Christian university.I do not want those days back.And I see a creeping pattern of the Catholic bishops using their economic clout to try to enforce norms and beliefs on contraception, chastity and homosexuality. Especially since the bishops seem determined to get effective power to deny employees at hospitals and universities contraceptive coverage, I am really worried that this will escalate into firing people from hospitals and universities for being in a gay relationship.If I seem a little paranoid, please undertand that I live in the Diocese of Oakland (CA) which until recently had the same Bishop Salvatore J. Cordileone mentioned by Jim McCrea. Bishop Cordileone made life very difficult for Catholics like myself who are prolife but vote usually Democratic because of war and poverty. Life under Bishop Cordileone tends to make one wary of the bishops over-using their power.

This is such a sad story. I feel so badly for this woman and how she was treated.

Claire -- that link is broken, but I've posted a working link as an update. Thanks for tracking it down.

I've long wondered what is included in unjust discrimination. I don't think I've ever seen a bishop say something wasn't justified. Even violence often gets a blame the victim treatment.I sometimes feel sorry for the more well-meaning bishops. The official position of the Catholic Church doesn't leave much room for good news for gays and lesbians. They can't marry someone they love, marrying someone of the opposite sex would unfair to the spouse, and gay men aren't supposed to become priests. All that's left is to live alone lying to everyone because if you tell the lady at church the real reason why you don't want to go on a date with her son or daughter, they will say that you deserve any discrimination or violence that happens as a result. Where is the Gospel in that?

And all that because Julie happens to be an exclusively female name.I always have to remind myself that Marie-Dominique Chenu is male. Indeed, querying google images confirms that every person called Marie-Dominique appears to be female, unless they're vowed religious.

Kudos to the Columbus reporter for this paragraph:"The Catholic Church considers sex between members of the same gender harmful and wrong but also urges kindness, compassion and sensitivity toward people with same-sex attractions."

At some point, doesnt toothless dissent become complicity?****************************************Exactly. This is the reason I am now sitting in the pews in an Episcopal church on Sundays. Catholics are voiceless and powerless against the hierarchy. Our money seems to be the only way to be heard and not enough Catholics are willing to speak out by withholding their "treasure" from the "princes" of the church. After years of a constant and sickening drumbeat of story after story from country after country of bishops enabling pedophiles and protecting them from the civil justice system - and a pope who did NOTHING to hold those bishops accountable, I decided that staying as a "paying" member of the church was dangerously close to enabling those who enabled the pedophiles. Complicity. Very few Catholics want to think about how they too just might be complicit in enabling too many in the hierarchy to continue unhindered on their un-Christlike way.I like Francis so far - but I will not return to the Catholic pews on Sunday unless he signals very clearly that bishops will be held accountable for protecting sexual molesters who are priests under their oversight. And the only way he can do this now is to make a very public example of at least one bishop. Ideally, Cardinal Law should be sent to pray on his knees for the rest of his life, without the luxury he enjoys in Rome. And Bishop Finn should be asked to resign - immediately.

The story has just about everything but a helpful "latae sententiae" thrown in by a well-meaning (?) outside source. I guess that doesn't apply to Methodists. But you have the anonymous denouncer. And you have to give him or her credit, because I had to re-read the obit several times before I could identify the offense, even though I was looking for it. And the sentence without a trial or a hearing or, for that matter, a how do you do? And the sentence delivered during bereavement. And the clammed-up chancery office on grounds it's all about a "personnel" matter.Wonderful, if you believe in that kind of church. But if you believe in that kind of church, why wouldn't you want to brag about it when you pull off the perfect act of sanctimony?

I am not happy whenever anyone loses a job. But it seems unlikely she was unaware that she was violating a condition of employment. What is missing from the news story is any comment from school officials or church officials. And thus the story is now being shaped by the predictable bevy of unsympathetic commenters. My first piece of advice to any administrator finding herself caught up in a story of this nature is, "When the media calls, pick up the phone." (The second is, "... and then say the right things.")One element not missing from this story is that it was instigated by a report from a concerned parent or parishioner. That triggering mechanism seems to be a pretty constant feature of these situations.

"What is missing from the news story is any comment from school officials or church officials."It seems unlikely they are unaware of the impact of news stories like this. It is also customary for an employer/immediate supervisor to make the judgment that such "violations" are ignored unless and until the Culture of Complaint kicks in.A person needs a job and is good at it. People will accept less than optimal conditions of employment, with the complicity of higher-ups all the time. It's the nature of our society. I'm something of a skeptic on Jim P's creeping blame-the-victim schtick here. But yes, people do go into these situations with eyes open.

This reminds me of Bishop Vasa and his proposed "Addendum" to the existing teachers contract which you had to sin if you wanted to be rehired for he coming yearIt caused such an upoar that he backed off and said he would take a couple of years to get input on the subject.http://www.cardinalnewmansociety.org/CatholicEducationDaily/DetailsPage/...

sin = sign

"At some point, doesnt toothless dissent become complicity?"Yes, it does.This may not be such a case because it is so particular even if so wrong. A continued widespread pattern of such cases may arise to the point.I personally believe we already passed that point in connection with the clergy sex abuse crisis, so this incident is just a match thrown into a forest fire.

I am not happy whenever anyone loses a job. But it seems unlikely she was unaware that she was violating a condition of employment.If I recall correctly, about 25% of the teachers in Bishop Vasa's diocese were non-Catholics. Skipping the issue of what rules ought to apply to Catholic teachers, one of the issues raised by opponents was the extent to which non-Catholic teachers should have to live their private lives in accordance with Catholic teachings.

"Im something of a skeptic on Jim Ps creeping blame-the-victim schtick here."To say someone took a risk with eyes wide open is not to blame the victim. It's to note that she took a risk. It is inherent to risk-taking that things may not work out in the risk-taker's favor.I'm sorry she's out of a job. I hope she finds another one quickly. I hope she lives a virtuous life, too, one that shines forth as an example to children and the larger community. In the eyes of the church, she wasn't doing that, which is why her employment by the church was deemed to be untenable.

"Heres a link to the obit. Its just sad."That her mother died is sad. Many persons' mothers have died, and thus it's something that elicits powerful emotions of sympathy in a great many people. That the death also caused an obituary to be published that in turn led to her dismissal is a mildly interesting causal chain. But the general aura of sadness around the story doesn't really have any bearing on this school's employment standards for teachers.

http://www.abc6onyourside.com/shared/news/features/top-stories/stories/w...The principal of Bishop Watterson High School has released a letter that states: "Documents support termination. You were not terminated for being gay but for the spousal relationship publicized in the newspaper which is against church teachings."

Thanks, Claire. "Publicized in the newspaper"? Yeah, if someone was really looking. Is the obit the only "Document(s) support termination"? Or is there another document -- the unnamed source, who Jim Pauwels assumes (I don't) was a concerned parent. I'm sure he/she was a snitch; for the rest, we'd have to know who we are talking about."But the general aura of sadness around the story doesnt really have any bearing on this schools employment standards for teachers." Well, in the general aura of sadness, HOW the school notified the teacher is relevant (among Christians), and "Documents support termination" is not, I believe, anyone's idea of a good how.

" the unnamed source, who Jim Pauwels assumes (I dont) was a concerned parent. Im sure he/she was a snitch; for the rest, wed have to know who we are talking about."You're right, Tom, that we don't know who notified whom in this case and what motivated it. My "parent or parishioner" was meant to be a more general comment on how I've observed that these things tend to be brought to the authorities' attention.As to the "snitch": unless you know more than has been reported here, we don't know anything about those motives, either. It could have been through the most hateful bigotry, or a particularly malicious impish streak, or someone who actually and genuinely accepts what the church teaches and thought that something should be done.

I read somewhere that a student asked her mother to pray for her gym teacher, telling her that she had recently lost her mother. So the student's mother looked for the obituary, but when she read the obituary, she must have thought that getting her fired was a better idea than praying for her.

"To say someone took a risk with eyes wide open is not to blame the victim. Its to note that she took a risk. It is inherent to risk-taking that things may not work out in the risk-takers favor."That's well enough to say when you sit in the boss's chair. Another risk-taker here was the principal. And pastors make choices like this, too. You don't often hear of clergy getting tossed out on their ***es when they knowingly hire someone deemed unacceptable to the Temple Police. "Im sorry shes out of a job."You sure as **** should be. But thanks for the response.

I, too, think it was cruel to fire this teacher. But I also think it is completely appropriate for religious schools (or any school) to insist that teachers model the behavior they want children to emulate. What is the fair way to encourage this? (I know there are all kinds of issues about selective enforcement), but how should a school address an issue where a teacher engages in behavior that the school believes send a negative message to children?We had some public school teachers who were fired here a couple of years ago because they were arrested for smoking reefer after a rock concert. And a Catholic school teacher in Brooklyn was fired because she was pregnant and unwed.I think the school systems were perfectly within their rights, but thought in both cases, a more equitable solution would be to give the workers another job, at the same pay, within the school system, just not in the classroom.

There was a similar episode recently involving a volunteer for at least 3 ministries in his parish in the RC Diocese of Rockville Centre (Long Island in New York State). He was dismissed after an anonymous note was sent to the bishop. It seems that the Roman bishops are more willing to rely on anonymous informers than the Roman emperor Trajan, who told provincial governor Pliny the Younger not to act on anonymous complaints that certain people were Christians. The standards of your church's episcopate are now lower than those of the Roman Empire!

Nineteen years of apparently exemplary service as a teacher. Respected as a role model by her students. In a time of bereavement, includes the name of the person she loves in a list of her mother's survivors. Fired therefore for "immorality" and "serious unethical conduct."The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?And Jesus said to them, "Yeah, absolutely! Gimme one of them stones, willya?"

For those who see this termination strictly in terms of the "mean old church with outmoded, unjust, and insensitive views", just how would you propose the leaders of the church go about changing its long held conviction about sexual morality? Should Pope Francis or Cardinal Dolan just call a press conference and state that the Catholic Church has decided that henceforth all sexual acts between consenting adults (or even children of a certain age) either before or during a marriage--regardless of sexual orientation--are licit and moral. I know a great many non-Catholics and non practicing Catholics who would welcome such an announcement with great joy. Oh, and some practicing Catholics might be glad as well. What a silly notion it is that all human beings should wrestle with difficult moral choices, even actively seeking the knowledge of God's will through prayer. Perhaps while Francis and Dolan are at it they can tell priests and seminarians not to have hangups about sexual tensions in their own lives and just go ahead and enjoy themselves.Is it a requirement of liberal thinking to believe that all people who are having sex or participating in a sexual relationship are seeking moral goodness. I don't know anything about this teacher or her life with her partner other than that she didn't exercise a prudent judgment in wording the obituary in such a way as to raise concern about her employment contract. I guess some of you would be alright if the diocesan and school authorities announced that henceforth we will be teaching in our schools and parishes that what individuals choose to do sexually is not of any concern or interest to us.I'm writing this as a person who at one time in my life embraced the notion that anything goes. It didn't work out that well for me.

The issue is not be whether or not the non-Catholic teacher did not live according to Church teaching. The issue is whether or not she broke her contract with the school. The Church is not immune from the law of contract. Nor should the teacher be.What did their contract say?

Ann: there you go.http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2013/04/17/backers-rally-f...According to a contract between the Columbus diocese and the Central Ohio Association of Catholic Educators, teachers can be terminated for immorality or serious unethical conduct.

"For those who see this termination strictly in terms of the mean old church with outmoded, unjust, and insensitive views, just how would you propose the leaders of the church go about changing its long held conviction about sexual morality?"How exactly did this teacher violate the church's restricitons on sexual conduct? I gave a cursory glace at the obituary and the words "sexually active" appear to be absent.

At some point, doesnt toothless dissent become complicity?Yes! how would you propose the leaders of the church go about changing its long held conviction about sexual morality?First, this isn't about giving up on sexual morality, it's about the church's belief that it is intrinsically evil for people of the same sex to love each other. The way the church could proceed on a different path is to do what other churches, like the Episcopal Church have done - re-examining the scriptural basis for their belief, taking into account the wisdom of the laity, taking into account what science and social science has to say on the subject, by admitting that they are not infallible.

" ... doesnt toothless dissent become complicity?"There's even a Latin phrase for it, so it has to be a Law of The Church: Tacitus consensus pares

"But I also think it is completely appropriate for religious schools (or any school) to insist that teachers model the behavior they want children to emulate. "What about principals and pastors and bishops? If employers know and hire the person anyway, let's discuss what that says to "impressionable" children. Let's face it: that communicates a moral impression also.

"I hope she lives a virtuous life, too, one that shines forth as an example to children and the larger community. In the eyes of the church, she wasnt doing that, which is why her employment by the church was deemed to be untenable."Good Lord, Jim: if every employee of a church institution ... including the clergy ... were held to that standard, who would be left? Darned few, particularly within the higher levels of the clergy.

John W. Feehily 04/24/2013 - 4:05 pmIn other words, if you can't persuade or convince ... fire.Yes, that'll kick off the New Evangelization with vigor!! We'll have to open some of those closed churches to accomodate the influx of converts who love that approach." .. she didnt exercise a prudent judgment in wording the obituary in such a way as to raise concern about her employment contract .."In other words, lie. Even more churches will have to be opened if that is a tenent of the New Evangelization.Mt 23: 27-28:27 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead mens bones and every kind of filth. 28 Even so, on the outside you appear righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing."

I assume that Jim Pauwels agrees that few bishops currently in power should remain in power. There are many, many bishops who are guilty of duplicity in protecting sexual molesters and thus enabling pedophiles, guilty of hiding crimes from the police, and guilty of lying by "mental reservation". In addition as a group across the board, they are guilty of absolute failure to exercise "fraternal correction" when it comes to their brother bishops. These bishops certainly don't stand as shining examples of living "virtuous" lives nor do they present any kind of positive example to children about how to live a moral and virtuous life. All should be fired. But by whom?As far as the firing of the unwed pregnant teacher goes, perhaps the clergy would have preferred that she get an abortion, as long as she went to a clinic where it would be unlikely for a member of the parish to see her entering it. How about helping women who face unwed pregnancy instead of making their lives even harder? Is that too "christian" to ask of these so-called "christian leaders"?

Thanks, Claire.Now the question becomes: did the parties to the contract agree on the meaning of "immorality". I wonder how that question would fare in the Courts.My point is that *both* the school and the teacher need to respect each others' rights to conscience. If they cannot agree about what is moral, then they should not have signed the contract in the first place. This might sound heartless, but as a pluralistic nation we absolutely must respect other peoples' rights to think and sometimes to act differently, especially as regards utterly private matters, and so our contracts should not be entered into lightly if consciences are likely to be involved in carrying out the provisions of the contracts. We don't really know the ins and outs of Ms. Hale's employment -- for instance, did she discuss the contract's meaning with the other person who signed it? Who signed it? Was that person the same one who fired her? Contract law -- and, a fortiori, contract justice -- can be extraordinarily complex. We really shouldn't jump to moral conclusions about any of these people.Except perhaps the anonymous accuser. The burden of proof justifying *that* sort of behavior is on the accuser. Creep!

I assume that the diocese gets to define what constitutes "immorality". I wonder if they, the third party, directed the school principal to terminate the teacher right away, without waiting a few months to do it discreetly at the end of the school year.

Regarding the teacher who was fired for being pregnant and unmarried- every single one of her female students will realize (eventually if not immediately) that she could have kept her job if she had had an abortion and kept silent about the fact. Firing her was not only cruel, it was self-defeating to the point of absurdity.

"As far as the firing of the unwed pregnant teacher goes"Anne Chapman - I'm sorry, you've lost me ... those aren't the circumstances for the teacher under discussion, right?

"How exactly did this teacher violate the churchs restricitons on sexual conduct? I gave a cursory glace at the obituary and the words sexually active appear to be absent."A fair point. We'd hope there was some due process here. But we don't know, based on what has been presented.

While this case is being argued out, let's not forget that there are thousands of gay employees of the church who are in relationships and are not being hunted down, fired, etc. Indeed, they are invited to the church suppers and accepted just as they are, despite the official prohibition against their lifestyle and choices. Toothless? I don't think so. Those are important facts of life to those people. The fact that this one case came to the press shows that it stands out, no? Or are we to suppose that everyone else employed by the church is a heterosexual or in the closet? Ha.

Two comments: First, if one reads the letters of Dorothy Day, would one not be appalled at the treatment of this teacher. If one reads the works of Jean Vanier, hwo would any of us cast the first stone? (If a stone was not cast in this case, I don't know what a stone is? Today is the feast of St. Mary Euphrasia Pelletier, who worked with prostitutes. Speaking of them she said: "Love them, console and strengthen these wounded sheep; make them happy, very happy, by God's grace; THIS IS YOUR DUTY." (my emphasis). conclusion: The presumption is never that someone is to be denounced, condemned, etc. It's rebuttable, of course. But the presumption is rather that anyone,bishop, pope, etc, who condemns, etc.is in the wrong. Again, this is a rebuttable presumption, but the rebuttal has to be made.Second, with Jim McCrea, I'd say: If the actions against this teacher are souupsed to be consonant with the "new evangelization" then count me out. I know I'm not important. That is not the issue. Still, just count me out.

"A fair point."It's much more than a fair point.This conduct, repeated over and over, demostrates why the Church's claim that it condemns only homsexual acts, not the inclination, violates the Eighth Commandment....and yet, Bishop Finn remains in office. Complicity...

I can't say that this is objectively unjust, if the lesbian teacher had signed a contract that her personal life must conform to Catholic standards, but the overall pattern troubles me (the two fired teachers, the bishop who wants non-Catholic teachers to profess agreement with Catholic teaching on contraception, the bishops' apparent determnation not just to distance themselves from the contraception mandate, but to successfully deny hospital employees access to contraception). The bishops are acting like their first and default strategy is to use economic clout to bully, coerce, and punish, and that is not the spirit of Christ.

The issue is not sex (pace, John W. Feehily) nor contract law. It is hypocrisy and, worse, sanctimony. If Holy Mother really wants to act upon every allegation of sin, I can pile up enough delations of Catholics who are grievously raving bigots and incorrigibly craven war mongers to cause job-related medical issues to the spine and knees of the bishop's mail carrier. But such reports will not be acted upon.I think Rita Ferrone has it exactly right about sex. It isn't an issue in the church until and unless it threatens to become public. And if it isn't about sex, it never will be an issue. But when church authorities decide they have to duck and cover, they could handle the situation with much more compassion than they handled this one, and they would if they took to heart the basics taught by the Founder. It didn't have to be, "Sorry about your mom; you're fired."

To accept this woman's sexual attraction and lifestyle as normal and valid, and to allow her to continue teaching in a Catholic school would indicate that the Catholic authorities at said school do not really believe in the Catholic faith, and that being gay and participating in gay sexual activities is just fine, thank you very much.To cave on this issue would be another betrayal of our Lord, another lash of the whip, another nail through His hands. Just saying...

Every time a gay teacher gets fired, Jesus gets a boo-boo kissed.

Todays gospel reading seems apropos. Observe Jesus word or you are condemning yourself. He does not need to condemn us, we are doing it to ourselves. So while He doesn't cast a stone, it does not mean the actions are acceptable. And we should not pretend that they are.And if anyone hears my words and does not observe them,I do not condemn him,for I did not come to condemn the world but to save the world. Whoever rejects me and does not accept my wordshas something to judge him: the word that I spoke,it will condemn him on the last day,because I did not speak on my own,but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and speak.

"To accept this womans sexual attraction and lifestyle as normal and valid..."The Church acknowledges that the attraction itself is not sinful. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mychal_JudgeTherefore sexual orentation alone is not a Christian basis for employment termination.Those who then go on to speculate on so called lifestyle and the individual sexual practices that other people *may possibly have* engaged in, without very specific evidence of such acts, have their minds in the gutter.Suppose a man shared a house with another man for decades, publicly displaying effusive affection to that man and and upon that man's death, exclaimed, "I have ever thought no bereavement was equal to that of a husband's or a wife's, but I feel it difficult to believe that any can be greater, or any one's sorrow greater, than mine." and later asked to be buried in the same tomb with a joint inscription reading, "Out of shadows and phantasms into the truth."What would we call that man? "Disordered lifestyle practitioner?" Or, perhaps, "Cardinal" or even, "Blessed?"

"A fair point. Wed hope there was some due process here."To the extent that we're dealing with this as a question of whether it was right for the school to terminate the teacher at some point, I think the school hierarchy has already won a big PR victory. It means we're not asking a prior question, which is what kind of human being finds out about something like this from an obituary and then fires the deceased person's daughter in less that two months? On its face, it's like a parody of draconian lack of compassion. Why not take this up at the end of the school year?

Abe:Christ established His Church to teach, admonish, inspire, brace up, and be our Rock in this earthly life. The guy who fired the woman did exactly what he was supposed to do. We all have our sinful tendencies; mine are alcohol and drugs. But I'm not going to whine and snivel about getting fired for being under the influence (actually I'm retired). I never did because I control my tendencies; it's all any of us can do. This isn't rocket science, it's just common sense.Of course, this woman is a Methodist, and the Methodist Church caved a long time ago, and survives as a hollowed out shell, devoid of anything but the cheap emotional values of the libertine glitterati.

Thanks for the response, Bob. I find your views to be highly informative and appealing; is there a newsletter I could subscribe to? BTW, what kinds of drugs are you into? GHB?

"Therefore sexual orentation alone is not a Christian basis for employment termination."I agree."Those who then go on to speculate on so called lifestyle and the individual sexual practices that other people *may possibly have* engaged in, without very specific evidence of such acts, have their minds in the gutter."It's possible she was interviewed by the boss, or even that there was something like a formal hearing, in which she was asked about her situation, and she answered truthfully. But I don't think we know these specifics. (Nor am I sure that we have a right to know them).

"On its face, its like a parody of draconian lack of compassion"Yes, as a parent of a school age child, I think the firing of a teacher for this particular reason sets a terrible example and sends an awful message to children. But I'm trying to think through parents' rights in these situations, which I haven't seen discussed above. And as someone with children of my own, this is kind of important to me.I think parents have a right and duty to educate their children according to their own values. And I know there are all kinds of limitations to that thinking (some parents have really bad values). I'm sure there are people in this country, for example, who do not think it is a good thing that I am educating my own children in a parochial school. But, fortunately,what those people think doesn't matter I get to decide for myself how to educate my children. ;I guess I would like to know how the parents of the children in the school feel about it this firing, because I think the views of the parents should be given great weight.

" It means were not asking a prior question, which is what kind of human being finds out about something like this from an obituary and then fires the deceased persons daughter in less that two months? On its face, its like a parody of draconian lack of compassion. Why not take this up at the end of the school year?"Here is what I think is a big part of the disconnect: folks who don't think that what the teacher did (live with a partner, even in violation of the school's standards for its teachers) was particularly wrong, find this an astonishingly un-compassionate act on the part of the school.Let me suggest this thought experiment: suppose that, instead of having a partner, her offence was that she had embezzled $100,000 from the school. Someone reports her to the authorities. She is called on the carpet. She doesn't deny the facts, but pleads, "For pity sake, my mother just died - we just buried her. Please, can't you let me stay on until the end of the school year?" Should a principal be swayed by this plea for compassion?I expect that criminal court judges here these sorts of extenuating pleas at sentencing hearings, all the time.Of course, embezzling money isn't a very similar offence to what this poor woman did. So let me suggest this alternative: suppose that her offence is that, in addition to teaching at the school, she also runs a side business as a madam for a ring of prostitutes. She is reported to school authorities, and is called on the carpet. She pleads, "I'm a good teacher; my students and colleagues love me; my evaluations are excellent. What I am doing on the side has no bearing on my ability to teach. What I do in my own time is my own business, and as it happens, nobody is hurt by these extracurricular activities. And besides, my mother just died." It is possible that everything she says here is true, and yet I'd think that a lot of people would still believe that the principal would be justified in firing her immediately.(I think the reports indicate that the firing wasn't immediate; there was something like a two month period before she was terminated, and those two months may be important in understanding this situation; but let's set that aside for now.)I can imagine that a reader who is plowing through this comment is rolling her eyes at these crude comparisons of what this teacher did - after all, living with a partner seems pretty benign, whereas embezzlement and organized prostitution are pretty serious crimes. But that is the point: living with a partner in a homosexual relationship is not benign, as the church weighs these things: it's a pretty serious offence.

From what I have read, this teacher never discussed her relationship or homosexuality with her charges and conducted herself in her job in firm accordance with Catholic teaching. Truly a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" sort of scenario. We do not even know whether she was given a choice about having her partner's name associated with hers in the obituary. I speak from first-hand experience: I was very moved when, without my ever asking or saying, my older brother chose to write my father's obituary so that it listed my partner as my spouse.Here's an interesting question: are any concerned parents trawling the obituaries and ensuring that teachers who married a divorcee are driven out of teaching when their spouse's obituary is published and it becomes clear the deceased spouse was formerly married? Why are there no such stories? I guess single mothers and gays are the worst of the worst, and other adulterers get a pass?

"Its possible she was interviewed by the boss, or even that there was something like a formal hearing, in which she was asked about her situation, and she answered truthfully."It's also possible she was interviewed, answered truthfully, and was told it wasn't a big deal. Then suddenly it is. Has the principal violated a morality clause by doing this? And would a concerned parent not have the right to know it?Are you suggesting a double-standard here, Jim? And if so, is that itself a termination offense? Not that we have any right to know ...

Jim P-- My point was just that even most people who might applaud firing the woman will feel distaste at a story that includes the words "found out about it in her mother's obituary and immediately* fired her". Absent some evidence of danger to her students (and, remember, it's not like she's been out campaigning for marriage equality -- they had to find out from her mother's obituary), compassion dictates waiting a couple of months until the summer, whatever it may dictate beyond that.* I've taken the word "immediately" from your description above, but "quickly", "soon", etc. would be fine. It seems to have been < 2 months, with < 2 more months left until the end of the school year.

Jim P: Since we wrote at the same time and I did not see your 9:26 am post, let me post my question directly to you: is marriage to a divorcee a serious offense? is gluttony a serious offense? Is greed a serious offense? If I run for political office and my published tax returns indicate that I'm not charitable at all and I press for unjust tax regimes that arbitrarily punish the poor and benefit the rich because I am a proud promoter of Rand-ian values, is that a serious enough offense to warrant my dismissal?

But that is the point: living with a partner in a homosexual relationship is not benign, as the church weighs these things: its a pretty serious offence.Jim Pauwels,Why is it more serious than being in a second marriage when the first was valid "in the eyes of God" and only a civil divorce was obtained? A huge percentage of "married" people in the United States are in second (third, fourth, etc.) marriages. Why is a heterosexual adulterous relationship less serious than a same-sex relationship?

"Why is it more serious than being in a second marriage when the first was valid in the eyes of God and only a civil divorce was obtained?"David - right. There was a pretty similar discussion about these things a year or two ago on dotCom, when a little girl was not allowed to register for the new school year at the Catholic school she had attended the previous year, because her mom is living with a partner, and it became known to the principal or the bishop. This situation raises many of the same questions.FWIW, yes, in the hypothetical situation in which a heterosexual Catholic school teacher is divorced but does not not pursue an annulment, and then remarries - that seems to me to be a case of roughly the same magnitude of offence (to the extent it's possible to judge these things). But of course, the church provides a different remedy to that hypothetical situation: go get the marriage regularized. If that teacher were to refuse to do that, and if this principal or whoever it is that is setting and enforcing these moral standards in Ohio wants to be consistent, s/he would apply the same harsh remedy to that teacher. Not that my judgment counts for anything on these matters except as it pertains to myself.

"compassion dictates waiting a couple of months until the summer, whatever it may dictate beyond that."Mark, I don't say you're wrong. (FWIW, I wouldn't have fired her at all, which possibly would make me a bad choice to be a Catholic school principal).How long is long enough to be compassionate? I dunno. I'd like to understand more of the timeline and more of the circumstances, although it feels really intrusive to inquire about this poor woman's life in this depth. As a couple of points of comparison on the compassion scale, I think the expectation in corporate America is that, when a parent dies, an employee should be allowed to have some time off - maybe as much as a week or even a little more. Not that we would look to corporate America for any sort of standard of Christian compassion.There was a case in the Rockford, IL diocese about ten years ago in which a parish choir director was fired for having a partner. In his case, he was called on the carpet, he told the truth, and he was fired on the spot. I was outraged, as I had met him and liked him, and besides was an admirer of the work he was doing in the parish (he was *really* good). I.e I had all the same reactions that this woman's students are having now. Here is a link to one account of that case in Rockford. http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php?AID=3262... is why I think this two month timeframe (or less than two months - do we know how long it was?) could be important: I'm speculating that she was called on the carpet, she told the truth, and they gave her some time, at least a little time, to think about her choices. If that's the way it played out, then I think we give the school at least a better grade than the Rockford Diocese did with Bill Stein - although that's setting the compassion bar about as low as it can go, so it may not be saying much.

" let me post my question directly to you: is marriage to a divorcee a serious offense?"I assume your scenario is short-hand for the one that David Nickol presented. My reply to him, a couple of comments above this one, contains my views on it.

I am writing to the Bishop to voice my objection to his scandalous treatment. All of like minds might do the same -just to say we did something in the face of such blatant un-Christ action and real discrimination.Or maybe just throw in theh towel...?

Fire all the sinners. Only Jesus should be allowed to receive money in exchange for labor.

Watch the video.Fired immediately at the end of the day on Holy Thursday after having been shown the anonymous letter some weeks before. No comments or conversation in-between.The cowards.

The whole incident stinks to high heaven. We all know well there is one rule for the bishops and connected clergy, and another for the laity. They might have followed "their rules" but the bishop demonstrated a complete unawareness of Jesus's example.

FWIW, yes, in the hypothetical situation in which a heterosexual Catholic school teacher is divorced but does not not pursue an annulment, and then remarries that seems to me to be a case of roughly the same magnitude of offence . . . Jim,I am not talking about people already on the job who divorce and then remarry. I am talking about people who come to the job after perhaps years of being in a second marriage. Are we to believe that all non-Catholc employees of Catholic elementary and high schools must be in their first marriage? I don't know, but I find this extremely unlikely. Also, I find it extremely unlikely that Catholic Charities expects non-Catholic employees who apply for jobs to be in their first marriage. Many branches of Catholic Charities advertise themselves as Equal Opportunity Employers. Employers aren't even allowed to ask those applying for jobs if they are married, let alone ask them if they are in their second (third, fourth, . . . ) marriage.It seems very much to me that Catholic organizations who simply cannot discriminate against people in second, adulterous non-marriages nevertheless reserve the right to discriminate against same-sex couples. Now, of course, any employee of a religious organization that is considered "ministerial" can be hired and fired for religious reasons, but I don't think Methodists working as gym teachers in Catholic schools are "ministerial."

Another contender for the award for the person who best exemplifies the old saw, "the meanest man I ever saw/was always just within the law."And for those of you posing the question Why is it more serious than being in a second marriage when the first was valid in the eyes of God and only a civil divorce was obtained? the answer is simple, even if it makes your decision to stay within the church uncomfortable: The church can make divorce right if the parties seek the church's intervention. The church has no way to make "living as a normal gay person" right within its current doctrinal framework.

It is unfortunate that this case has already received so much publicity. Otherwise, Bishop Campbell could follow tried and true procedure and move Ms. Hale to another high school in the diocese without telling anyone in the new place anything about her. But I don't know, maybe that option is only available for those who transgress with children.

...evidence of danger to her students...The simple argument is that knowledge of her living arrangement is dangerous to her students' moral upbringing. And all the comparisons to other sinful living arrangements does nothing to justify hers.

Simple arguments are easy and fun to make. Mine is that knowing a respected and effective teacher is in a committed relationship with another person of the same sex will help students to avoid an ugly and hateful stereotype and thereby advance their moral upbringing.Bonus simple argument: Seeing her fired will increase students' hunger and thirst for justice.

And knowledge of the principal/bishop's lack of effective compassion is dangerous to their moral upbringing as well. The principal and bishop are not "going to the margins" but circling the wagons.

The church can make divorce right if the parties seek the churchs intervention. The church has no way to make living as a normal gay person right within its current doctrinal framework.Barbara,This from you???No, the Church may be able to grant an annulment or otherwise regularize the situation of those who divorce and remarry, but not every marriage can be annulled, and we know it is the position of Rome that annulments are far too easy to obtain in the United States. And of course if people don't seek annulments, they can't get them. So if a divorced and remarried couple is in a "regularizable" situation, but they don't choose to do anything about it. They are still living in adultery in the eyes of the Church. Just because their situation might be able to be "fixed" doesn't mean it's okay. Also, not everyone is a Catholic. This woman was a Methodist working for a Catholic school for the past 19 years. Does the Catholic Church verify that all of its non-Catholic employees are not divorced and remarried? I don't think so!As for same-sex couples, they can make their situation right within the Church by not having sex with one another. I wonder if anyone from the Church asked the teacher in this situation if she and her partner have sex! There is no Church rule that I know of that says two lesbians or two gay men can't live together in a partnership. What is prohibited is sexual behavior.

Abe:You're almost as funny as a dead fish on a slab of ice.

David, the church isn't going to change the way it treats gay men and women. I don't understand why others seem so intent on denying this reality.

"the church isnt going to change the way it treats gay men and women"Why assume that? The church has changed its stance on other things, like slavery, the death penalty, religious liberty. Can you imagine abolitionists saying, "the church will never change so why even try".

Write to the bishop, folks... and maybe your own bishop as well denouncing this.

a respected and effective teacher is in a committed relationship with another person of the same sexThat is the problem; I could not have said it better myself.

Bruce: if they're not having sex, then it's like St Gregory and St Basil. Barbara: among the teenagers who form my catechism class, I have the impression that not a single one is against gay marriage. That's their generation's attitude. Once we're all dead and they are the church, why would they not change the way it treats gays?

I don't know if Bob Schwartz is intentionally provocative, tongue in cheek, or actually believes what he wrote about this being "another lash of the whip" if the school did nothing to a teacher with a 19 year tenure whose lifestyle had been at least implicitly tolerated and whose teaching was apparently successful with no student complaints. Whatever, it is impossible for me for one to really dialogue with you, Bob, when you use imagery like that and/or have that kind of causality. I will not post again here, so you can have another word, if you wish, but enough on this for me ....

Jim Pauwels, modified: "That her mother died is sad. Many persons mothers have died, and thus its something that elicits powerful emotions of sympathy in a great many people. That the death also caused an obituary revealing her Jewish identity to be published that in turn led to her dismissal is a mildly interesting causal chain. But the general aura of sadness around the story doesnt really have any bearing on this schools employment standards for teachers."

Bob Schwartz modified; "To accept this womans Jewish identity and lifestyle as normal and valid, and to allow her to continue teaching in a Catholic school would indicate that the Catholic authorities at said school do not really believe in the Catholic faith, and that being Jewish and participating in Jewish ritual activities is just fine, thank you very much. To cave on this issue would be another betrayal of our Lord, another lash of the whip, another nail through His hands. Just saying"

Holy moly, intelligence lacking pervasive compassion is not intelligence at all. It is little more then arrogance in the service of ignorance. Rules in a vacuum at not rules at all. They are merely purely scientific observations. The earth goes round the sun. How one feels about that or its consequences on human emotions does not matter. None at all. It simply is.The notions we propose when turned into absolutes that affect our ability to live our lives are another matter altogether. There is no such thing as the perfect human being and, consequently, no such thing as the perfect human notion. As for the final, unequivocal interpretation of a religious text, I strongly suggest leaving that responsiblity to God. Why in God's name would you or anyone else want that level of responsiblity?

"Watch the video."Ouch. I hadn't realized that picture of the teacher in the Columbus Dispatch story landing page was actually a video link. Her explanation pretty much trashes my sunny hopes that she had been treated with some compassion, or that there was some due process involved in he termination. This is just wrong.Barbara wrote: the church isnt going to change the way it treats gay men and women. I would reply that the church isn't going to change its doctrines on marriage and homosexuality. But it has an urgent imperative to treat all persons, including persons with a homosexual inclination, and including its employees, with compassion and to avoid all instances of unjust discrimination. It's hard to conclude here that the church didn't fail.Rita's comment up above is on point. There are many people who are homosexual who work for the church, and they are treated as decently as other church employees. The church didn't need to fire - should not have fired - this woman as harshly as it did.

"Jim Pauwels, modified: That her mother died is sad. Many persons mothers have died, and thus its something that elicits powerful emotions of sympathy in a great many people. That the death also caused an obituary revealing her Jewish identity to be published that in turn led to her dismissal is a mildly interesting causal chain. But the general aura of sadness around the story doesnt really have any bearing on this schools employment standards for teachers."Fr. O'Leary, I take it this is your point: "If this woman is Jewish, it's okay to fire her because Jews can't work for the church, but if her mother has just died, then all bets are off."I don't agree, but thanks for illustrating the perennial nature of Godwin's Law.

"Bruce: if theyre not having sex, then its like St Gregory and St Basil."Or Holmes and Watson, i.e. roommates who are dear friends. "Partner" connotes something different than a Holmes/Watson relationship.

I dont agree, but thanks for illustrating the perennial nature of Godwins Law.Jim,Godwin's Law states: "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1." I will leave the question as to whether Fr. O'Leary is being fair to you open, but he did not mention the Nazis or Hitler.I would like you or someone else to explain to me what threat is present with an extremely discreet Methodist lesbian gym teacher with a record of 19 years causing no problems that is not present with a Jewish gym teacher who does not hide her Jewishness. The lesbian either does not agree with (or simply ignores) the teaching of the Catholic Church on homosexuality. Students who come to know and respect the teacher are apparently in some kind of danger because (I suppose) knowing and respecting someone who does not hold to "orthodox" views might influence a student to question what he or she is being taught.Now, suppose the teacher is a Jew. Jews do not accept the most basic premise of Catholicism or any other Christian denominationthat Jesus was the (their) Messiah (whom they rejected and continue to reject), God incarnate, and the Second Person of the Trinity. There are various opinions on sexual morality among Christians, but the identity of Jesus is so fundamental that all Christians agree on it. Why would not the presence of a kind, intelligent Jewish teacher be considered a more significant danger to Catholic students than a lesbian Methodist? If you look back over two thousand years of Christian history, you will see that Jews were considered a threat. The 1912 Catholic Encyclopedia goes to some length to justify this:

It was for the laudable reason of protecting social morality and securing the maintenance of the Christian Faith, that canonical decrees were framed and repeatedly enforced against free and constant intercourse between Christians and Jews, against, for instance, bathing, living, etc., with Jews. To some extent, likewise, these were the reasons for the institution of the Ghetto or confinement of the Jews to a special quarter, for the prohibition of the Jews from exercising medicine, or other professions. The inhibition of intermarriage between Jews and Christians, which is yet in vigour, is clearly justified by reason of the obvious danger for the faith of the Christian party and for the spiritual welfare of the children born of such alliances.

I think comparing Judaism and homosexuality is at least somewhat fair. And it seems to me students are much more likely to consider converting to Judaism because they respect and admire a Jewish teacher than they are to convert to homosexuality because they like their gym teacher!

For those who see this termination strictly in terms of the mean old church with outmoded, unjust, and insensitive views, just how would you propose the leaders of the church go about changing its long held conviction about sexual morality?The same way they employed a United Methodist without changing its long held conviction about papal primacy and teh Real Presence.

"I would like you or someone else to explain to me what threat is present with an extremely discreet Methodist lesbian gym teacher with a record of 19 years causing no problems that is not present with a Jewish gym teacher who does not hide her Jewishness ... And it seems to me students are much more likely to consider converting to Judaism because they respect and admire a Jewish teacher than they are to convert to homosexuality because they like their gym teacher!"Being a Jew is no threat to anyone or anything that I know of. Being a homosexual is no threat to anyone or anything that I know of. And in my view, and I'd like to think, in the view of the church, a homosexual person who abides by reasonable ethical standards should be able to teach at a Catholic school, or at least should receive the same opportunity and consideration to teach at a Catholic school as anyone else.Your point about "converting" someone to homosexuality is why O'Leary's comment doesn't really work.So here's my attempt at an explanation: when a Catholic school teacher lives in a sinful, quasi-marital arrangement, it can't help but communicate the message to students - impressionable kids whose moral views and understandings are still being formed - that sinful, quasi-marital arrangements are just fine and perfectly acceptable alternatives to actual marriage. And in the larger, diverse culture in which the church is situated, perhaps the culture comes to decide that those sinful arrangements really are perfectly acceptable alternatives, or perhaps whatever problems these arrangements pose to the culture are not so grave that the society needs to formally restrict or ban them. But a Catholic school sustains and preaches a different (and, by its lights, better) set of values than that of the surrounding culture. The Catholic church tries to carve out a bit of space for itself amid the surrounding culture where its members can actually abide by the values it believes in and preaches.Catholic schools recognize that marriages, and quasi-marriages, are moral arrangements with moral implications, and they are also public arrangements with public implications. By those Catholic lights, her happiness and satisfaction in her arrangement, and her discretion in shielding it from the view of her students (at least for a time), don't override the fact that it is sinful and is sending the wrong message.Ultimately, that she is stricken with grief at the loss of her mother doesn't override the key fact, either.None of this is to say that she shouldn't be treated with respect and compassion. She should. I think the school, or whoever it was that terminated her, should be criticized for how it handled this.Now, could the school decide that, even though her public arrangement is problematic, it can be tolerated? In my view, yes. I don't think that schools have to insist on moral perfection on that part of its employees.But I also don't think Catholic schools are wrong to hold their employees to certain standards of ethical conduct. According to the standards of this particular school, her living arrangement is unethical. She violated an ethical expectation of her job. And as I stated in one of the first comments, I'd be surprised to learn that she wasn't aware of this already.

BRB, gone to get baptized. That's just how moved I am by this school's witness to truth.

Jim,Why do we respect the woman's right to be a Methodist teaching at a Catholic school. Does that imply that it is acceptable for Catholic school students to consider switching to another Christian denomination? Why do we not treat Jews the way the Church did for nearly two-thousand yearsas people who deny Christ? Why is it now acceptable to disagree on the most fundamental of doctrinal questions and embrace people of non-Christian religions, but it is forbidden to treat people who do not agree on Catholic moral principles as individuals who have a right to their own moral views?It seems to me the Catholic Church's disagreement with a Methodist whose conscience tells her a lesbian relationship is acceptable is much less profound than the Catholic Church's disagreement with a heterosexually married Jew who denies the divinity of Christ. Which is closer to the heart of common Christian beliefthe forbidden nature of homosexuality or the divinity of Christ? It seems to me it's a no-brainer.We have "evolved" to the point that the Catholic Church now finds acceptable that others who disagree with it on matters of faith may be tolerated, but that children must be protected from those who disagree on matters of morals. Of course, "conversion" is an issue. I am quite sure that many people out there concerned about lesbian teachers have in the back of their minds that if their daughters like and respect a lesbian teacher, they are at some risk of engaging in lesbian sex and becoming lesbians. It is totally wacky, but the belief that gays and lesbians "recruit" in ways both subtle and direct is widely believed by the kind of people who would unceremoniously fire a lesbian gym teacher after 19 years on the job.

In addition to exhibiting a grievous lack of compassion and basic due process, this is a failure on Catholic moral grounds, in two senses:1. First, the Church has no qualms about people of the same sex (or opposite sex, for that matter,) living together. None. If it did, there would be no houses of religious. (And for opposite sex couples, it would not be recognized that sometimes those remarried without benefit of clergy should continue to live together for the benefit of the kids.) The issue is entirely about whether such couples or groups are sexually active. Unless there was solid grounds for believing that this woman is sexually active--at least by asking her--then the firing is unjust. Her sexual orientation is actually immaterial here--if she is unmarried and living with another person, the question under Catholic moral teaching is about sex, not about living arrangements.2. And it is unjust in another way as well. Does the school routinely quiz all faculty about their sex lives? For example, are straight couples asked about their practice of contraception? Does the school routinely quiz the faculty (including the priests, if any,) about their practice of masturbation? If not, it seems that this woman has been subject to "special" treatment because she lives with a woman. You might say "masturbation is a private matter, and does not set a bad example for the kids." Well, this woman's sex life is also a private matter, isn't it? Again, her living arrangements are not prima facie problematic. You might say "we don't know whether couples are practicing contraception or NFP, or if they're infertile or subfertile." Right. But the possibly sexually illicit practices of straights are not investigated, are they? Meanwhile this poor woman is presumed to be living in sin. If they want to enforce Catholic sexual norms, they should do so in a fair manner rather than persecuting gay people. Isn't this phenomenon, at least possibly, the reason Jesus did not condemn the woman caught in adultery? The gross bias of the accusation? Here too. Gross bias of the kind condemned by Catholic teaching.

In his three years of teaching, Christ spoke incessantly of justice, compassion, and mercy, and of treating others as we wish to be treated ourselves. In all that time, he seems to have cautioned his hearers not at all about the "horror" of men living with men and women with women. Who shall we say then, in this current case, has departed further from the words of Christ?Are we seeing yet another ill consequence of the child abuse scandal, people now so fearful of appearing lax that they will resort to acts of uncharity and plain cruelty to shield themselves from the charge?

Christ established His Church to teach, admonish, inspire, brace up, and be our Rock in this earthly life.Isn't something missing in this list? I forgetremind me again: what's this Sunday's gospel about? Abe alludes to it...

"The principal of Bishop Watterson High School has released a letter that states: Documents support termination. You were not terminated for being gay but for the spousal relationship publicized in the newspaper which is against church teachings. "This gives a new meaning to the old idea of Publishing the Ban(n)s.

Barbara: can you live with this?" ... the church isnt going to change the way it treats women. I dont understand why others seem so intent on denying this reality."

The quote that Jim McCrea quotes a couple of comments above this one can be found in this news story:http://www.myfox28columbus.com/shared/news/features/top-stories/stories/... includes this statement by the diocese:"Personnel matters remain confidential by policy of the Diocese of Columbus, and thus cannot be discussed in specific terms by diocesan staff, even cases that are working their way through grievance procedures and/or have gained significant publicity. "However, what can be said in general terms is that all Catholic school personnel at the outset of their employment agree that they will abide by the rules, regulations, and policies of the Catholic Diocese, including respecting the moral values advanced by the teachings of Christ. "The Catholic Church respects the fundamental dignity of all persons, but also must insist that those in its employ respect the tenets of the Church. Personnel who choose to publicly espouse relationships or principles that are contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church cannot, ultimately, remain in the employ of the Church."

"In his three years of teaching, Christ spoke incessantly of justice, compassion, and mercy, and of treating others as we wish to be treated ourselves. "He also spoke some very challenging words about marriage. He also spoke some hard things about discipleship. We're called to be much more than compassionate - we're called to be disciples.

Were called to be much more than compassionate were called to be disciples.And how will people know that we are Christ's disciples?If we have love for one another.

"Write to the bishop, folks and maybe your own bishop as well denouncing this."OK. I'm sure that Salvatore Cordileone will be VERY open to my thoughts on this.Ed and Lisa ... please join me in this little exercise of self abuse, OK?

Discipleship indeed! Disciples will try to practice and teach what the Master taught. But Christ said nary a blessed word about most of the matters that are both roiling and defining the Church today. Incarnation, Resurrection, the Great Commandments, well yes, we'll give them a few days every year, but the things we need to talk about every day are condoms, pills, and who's doing what with whom. Christ unaccountably failed to stress or even to mention them, so it's good that various Patres and Doctores and other Homines Otiosi saw fit to extend his remarks and fill up his deficiencies.After all, loving one's neighbor isn't much of an agenda for a serious religion. It's just too easy.

"at the outset of their employment agree that they will abide by the rules, regulations, and policies of the Catholic Diocese,"I know these issues have already been raised rhetorically, but now that we have this bit of personnel policy I'd actually like to know if they interpret it to mean they would not hire a divorced Methodist, and would have to fire a person discovered to be using birth control.

Once were all dead and they are the church, why would they not change the way it treats gays?Because its not how we think gays should behave, but rather how Christ has said they should behave. Its not a popularity contest folks. Rather, its best summarized by Chesterton: The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.

Circa 1990 an Irish friend of mine had a coworker who had married at 19 and whose wife had left him for another man 2 years later. Since there was no divorce in Ireland at the time, the abandoned husband eventaully cohabited (sans marriage) with another woman. One day the priest of the parish where the job site was located showed up at the job site and demanded that the owner fire the "sinful" guy who was cohabiting outside marriage- on pain of the business owner being excommunicated. (The guy was fired.) That kind of thing wouldn't have happened in this country in 1990, but it might have in 1950.My point is, I really want the American bishops to define up front the limits of this kind of economic punishment for what they regard as sexual sins. I do get it that a teacher in a Catholic school is quasi-ministerial (although I disagree with the bishops about committed gay relationships) I want an assurance that this approach will not be extended to cafeteria workers in Catholic universities, nurses in Catholic hospitals, employees of a businesses owned by Catholics, etc. It's sad that I don't truest my bishops more than that, but unfortunately I don't.

Jim McCrea, I live with it because I don't consider myself to be Catholic anymore. So yeah. For those willing to wait, good luck to all. Sincerely, I mean that, but I'm too tired to keep at it.

Im too tired to keep at it.My impression is that we have little choice but to keep discussing issues until we are in better communion. We have little choice, because I believe that if we don't do it now, we'll still have to do it after we die. One way or another, it has to happen, so that we "may all be one" It's not so much about being Roman Catholic as about unity. Maybe we're not going at it the right way, and that might be why progress is so imperceptibly slow, and maybe we ought to change the way in which we do it; but I don't see how we can give up on ironing out our differences. It's like leveling mountains, lifting valleys, and making straight the crooked paths - not easy, but necessary for seeing the Lord.At least that's my motivation.

"One day the priest of the parish where the job site was located showed up at the job site and demanded that the owner fire the sinful guy who was cohabiting outside marriage- on pain of the business owner being excommunicated. (The guy was fired.) That kind of thing wouldnt have happened in this country in 1990, but it might have in 1950."Anne --I can't imagine that happening here at any time. I don't remember even hearing of threats of excommunication except in the case of Leander Perez and his racist friends. Of course, New Orleans is known as "Sin City", and it's true it tolerates sins of the flesh quite easily. But maybe that's the wise way.

Claire: I'm 72. How much longer do you think people like me, Barbara, Joe Jaglowicz, and countless others should hang in there on the object side of the conversation while the rest of you discuss and discuss and discuss ... I think you get my point.I have been at the point for quite some time now that I freely admit to being a protestant catholic. I no longer wish to be a Roman Catholic nor an American Catholic. My only connection to denominational Catholicism is via my parish which is socially progressive, liturgically moderate, loving, accepting, friendly and peopled primarily (but far from exclusively) by LGBT folks .... www.mhr org. If it goes away (we are in the Archdiocese of San Francisco and have been "blessed" by the appointment of Salvatore J. Cordileone as archbishop, so who knows what will happen to us) then I'll just shake the last few specks of catholic dust from my sandals and look somewhere else.I learned many years ago that when one formally leaves Roman Catholicism one does not die and go to hell ... surprising as that might seem to a few posters on this website. Au contraire, in many cases you discover Christianity for the first time, unbridled by authoritarian, clericalist, legalistic people and rules.

Jim, I do wish people stayed within the Roman Catholic church, but that was not my focus in this thread. Forget the pre-death denominations during our lives on earth. We're all baptized, post-death we'll all hopefully end up together in Christ. I don't think that can happen until we're united, so we've got to keep working on unity. We've got to keep talking. Giving up is not an option, it seems to me. I'm not thinking about denominations but about Christian unity at the level of individuals, I guess with a more eschatological perspective. I note that 72 is four years younger than pope Francis. Maybe you still have the most important part of your life ahead of you!

Anne --I didn't mean that nobody was fired for sexual misbehavior here, I just meant that the bishops didn't threaten excommunication over it, at least I've never heard of such thing. I knew an adulterous pair at one big corporation who got into trouble but weren't fired. And in the old days here girls who got pregnant were either forced to marry or were whisked away to some other city (so said) where they'd have the child then give it up for adoption. (Isn't it odd how Americans, who are generally so free-wheeling about extramarital sex, are still very, very much against adultery, or so I've read.)Glad you don't have your same archbishop. I pray your new one is more humane, or should I say human. IHopefully Pope Francis will do a better job of picking bishops. He seems to be a good judge of people, though I don't know how much reliable information he gets about proposed bishops. I posted on another thread the report that Francis has decided to stop appointing bishops in Scotland until the whole O'Brien scandal has been thoroughly investigated. Looks like he means to really clean house. The question is, can he be fooled by those around him -- and will he truly listen to others.

"Were all baptized, post-death well all hopefully end up together in Christ. I dont think that can happen until were united." Are you saying that "heavenly unity" is dependent on "earthly unity"? Why? Your reasoning doesn't seem logical to me.

This situation has stayed with me over the weekend. These words from yesterday's Gospel really struck me: "This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. In my view, it is more than appropriate to think of a Catholic school as a community of disciples. By all accounts, this teacher was a member of that community - it seems that she believed that she was, and so did the other members. I expect this is why she has said that she'd like to have her old job back, so that she can continue to belong to that community of disciples.I think it is in love that students and others who are members of that community are rising up to defend her - are circulating the petition. They are loving one another.I also think it is possible for a member of a community of disciples to do something that is so contrary to what the community believes that she must be removed from the community, unless she mends her ways; and that it is for the leaders of the community to make that determination.But the leaders must lead in love. And love seems absent in how she has been treated by the community leaders. She was not treated as a beloved member of the community. According to the accounts presented here, she has been treated very harshly - as one who is despised. And that is contrary to this past Sunday's Gospel imperative.Is it possible for the community's leaders to balance both requirements: to discipline erring members, while continuing to treat them with love? I believe it is. Here is one way that could transpire in this case:* For the investigation and judgment, there should be due process that respects her rights and dignity as a member of the community of disciples. * If it is found that she has transgressed, then she should be given some time to mend her ways, and offered some spiritual guidance. Asking someone to change the nature of a relationship with a presumably-intimate partner, to change her place or mode of living - that is asking much. And that doesn't even take into account the grief that she just be experiencing from the loss of her mother. I think most of us would need some time to come to grips with these things. The school could be generous in giving her time - say, until the beginning of the next academic year. The school could place her on paid administrative leave until then, to give her time and space to process its demands.* If she decides not to work at the school according to the requirements of the community of disciples, then the school could thank her graciously for her service, and let her know that the door is always open, should she rethink her situation.The school doesn't have the luxury of infinite squishiness in how it treats her. Whatever it does in this case will be a precedent for all sorts of other employment-related disputes that may arise in the future with other employees. In prudence, it can't be notably more lenient in this case than in other cases. But within these limits, it must act in love. And as I say, I don't think it did.Way up at the top of the thread, someone said something along the lines of, "Is this the new evangelization?!" That person has it exactly right. The church tells the world about its discipleship in how it publicly treats the least of these. The church authorities seem to have badly missed the mark in this instance.

Barbara, I imagine that heavenly unity in Christ will be about as intimate as anything I have ever known. But if you are that close to Christ, and I am that close to Christ, then (by the triangular inequality in a metric space, for a Math analogy!...) you and I also have to be intimately close to one another. He gathers us all to him: therefore we also become closer and closer to one another. So, when there are other Christians who say or do certain things that cause me to want to keep them at arms' length, by rejecting them I am also blocking the possibility of fusion with Christ. He wants to be with all of us, and he wants to draw us all to him. There is no choice: loving him requires me to love all. To be with him I have to share his attitude. For a physics analogy, think of particles being attracted to a powerful magnet: if the particles repulse one another, their mutual repulsion prevents them from being together on the magnet, and they end up some distance away from the center.As to whether it happens on earth or in heaven, I'm not sure I make much of a difference between the two. Whatever work is not done on earth to be united by love will remain to be done after we die, somehow. (I'm guessing that that's what purgatory would be for.)I have heard many prayers at Mass, read many Pauline texts, and sung many 1970s hymns based on those texts, that seem to me to echo similar sentiments. But I have not heard that precise thought before, so as you wonder it could be kooky.

Claire - those are some beautiful reflections, and I think you are right on about how Jesus brings us closer together by bringing us closer to him.As for heaven and earth: God's kingdom is at hand in the person of Jesus. Jesus was feared, hated and reviled by the rulers of earthly kingdoms because he has announced a rival kingdom, the kingdom of heaven, in their midst.

It seems to me that the basic moral question here is: should sinners be ostracized?(I sure hope not. Not in every case, anyway.)

Should sinners be ostracized?Whatever happened to the idea that the church is a hospital for the sick, not a club for saints?Caveat: I do not consider Carla Hale to be either sick nor a sinner.Is anyone saying that if someone who is allegedly sick does not get well in the manner that you think appropriate, than that person should be kicked out of the club?If some try this one .... 2 Thess 3:14-15 ... I will respond with Mt 18:21-23.(Having spent many years in a nondenominatioal church has its scriptural quote gotchas!)

I was always taught that we are *all* part of the body of Christ, that is how I remain in the church even though many well-meaning people would probably say I should not stay. Be known and seek to know others. Keep my heart and mind open to different viewpoints that challenge me and prayerfully search my conscience and ask guidance from God.I see a real difference between a requirement to *respect* the teaching authority of the magisterium and a requirement to *agree* with all teaching of the magisterium. For me, the requirement to respect the teaching authority of the magisterium means I should not attempt to represent as Catholic teaching anything that is in fact not Catholic teaching, and if I am going to express disagreement, do so only after serious reflection.

Ann - I don't think sinners should be ostracized. Jesus made rather a point of dining with them.

"Should sinners be ostracized?"Whatever happened to the idea that the church is a hospital for the sick, not a club for saints?"Caveat: I do not consider Carla Hale to be either sick nor a sinner."This is the point I was trying to make above, and it is much larger than Carla Hale, which makes the treatment of her doubly infuriating. A very large number, I might even say the vast majority, really don't think of sexual activity as sinful at all outside of a few specific classes of conduct: non-consensual, involving minors, duplicitous relationships (e.g., not telling one partner about another, or witholding health information). And even if they pay lip service to traditional norms, they aren't by and large living them. I might even be so bold as to call this the "new normative culture" as it comes to sexual activity. And that's not even getting into the issue of use of contraception. And yet, when it comes to punishing people committing "traditional" sexual sins, who is called out? What if Carla Hale's partner's name in that parenthetical had been "Julian"? Is there anyone here who thinks there would there have been an inquiry into whether they were married, or divorced and then remarried? Ignoring an ocean of heterosexual deviance (according to church teaching), is simply the neon backlighting to going after that one drop of homosexual inclination. It's not just that the action was unkind, ill-considered and lacking in charity, but it lacks moral credibility.

This weekend parishioners in the Dioceses of Columbus will be asked to complete pledge cards for the Bishop's Annual Appeal. Excellent timing and an opportunity for the faithful to make a statement!

Claire:The members of my parish have for years refused to contributed to the Archdiocese of SF's AAA to the point that we were in arrears by almost $400,000. This was done in protest of the lead that the California Council of Bishops had taken over the years on initiatives that we viewed to be anti-LGBT.We finally reached a compromise: (1) wipe out all back debt, and (2) allow us to choose to whom our annual amount would be given. We chose local Catholic schools and Catholic Charities.The message was received by the Archdiocese loud and clear: don't assume that people will roll over and play dead. We didn't and still don't.

I think the best catholics are protestant catholics and the best christians are buddhist christians. I also think we should never forget that all the categories of the New Testament are Jewish categories. Archbishops obsessing about sexual acts are not what christianity is about.

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