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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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"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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About the Author

Eduardo Moisés Peñalver is the John P. Wilson Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School. He is the author of numerous books and articles on the subjects of property and land use law.