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Seattle Times Editorial on the Student Protests at Eastside Catholic

The Seattle Times (which, for some context, endorsed the Republican Rob McKenna for governor in last year's election) has come out with a strong editorial supporting the students at Eastside Catholic who are protesting the dismissal (the school says he resigned, though he denies it) of a popular vice principal after he entered into a same sex marriage:

DOESN’T matter whether Eastside Catholic vice principal Mark Zmuda resigned or was fired.  His departure had nothing to do with his job performance. The Archdiocese of Seattle and Zmuda’s fellow school leaders refused to tolerate his legal right to marry a man.

A Thursday protest by Eastside students should awaken Archbishop J. Peter Sartain and school president Sister Mary E. Tracy to the obvious: The hearts and minds of many young Catholics are changing. The students’ rebellion should provoke an institution that preaches compassion to also accept that individuals have a right to marry the person they love. . . . The church has a history of selectively enforcing its own doctrine. Is Eastside Catholic now going to investigate whether its teachers use contraception?

 

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Eduardo: The link in your post doesn't work.

However, I went to the website of the Seattle Times and read the complete editorial.

Here's a fascinating sentence in the editorial: "And, yes, [vice principal Mark] Zmuda signed a contract to uphold Catholic teachings."

There is no Catholic teaching against two men, in a public ceremony, comitting themselves to live together chastely in comitted mutual love and fidelity.  Infact, that is very much the kind of mutual love the gospel encourages.  There may be a question about what chastity means for such couples, but that equally applies to heterosexual couples getting married.

There simply are no grounds to fire this teacher in Catholic doctrine.  It is an example of the unjust treatement of homosexuals which is condemned bythe Catechism fo the Catholic Church.

Nice photo from New Ways Ministry of the students chanting “change the church” at the protest outside Eastside Catholic H.S.  Includes some positive suggestions for what Catholics can do.

http://newwaysministryblog.wordpress.com/2013/12/20/catholic-students-pr...

God Bless

Thanks, Thomas.  I fixed the link.

Per Timmie Dolan, this is just a church marketing failure.  Anyone check to see if any current faculty are divorced and remarried; if they go to communion; how many have verified if the catholic faculty fulfilled their Easter Duty in 2013?

And this bishop from Joliet, IL has a sterling record - LCWR and poor decisions, cover ups on sexual abuse....talk about cafeteria catholics.

Sorry, what does it take for the nun principle to refuse to do the bishop's dirty work....thought catholic morality weighed in on the excuse - *just following orders*

The students’ rebellion should provoke an institution that preaches compassion to also accept that individuals have a right to marry the person they love.

There is nothing wrong with compassion, but if the teaching of the Catholic church is going to be invoked, it should be invoked accurately.  Compassion is neither a theological nor a cardinal virtue.  Unyoked from the virtues, compassion is a tub of sentimental goo.  Compassion is nothing more than what we feel - we're sorry that a man lost his job.  Still, a moment's sober, objective and systematic reflection, of the sort that we hope is taught in Catholic high schools and even practiced by the editorial boards of large metropolitan newspapers, leads us to realize that compassion cannot be the foundation of a system of justice, whether it is criminal and civil courts or school administrative actions.

Certainly, there are wide and legitimate avenues for compassion to be applied in the case of this justly terminated adminstrator.  It would be compassionate for some entity, such as a public school system, to give him a job in the middle of a school year.   It would be compassionate for the school to be as helpful as possible in cooperating with his job search, and to give him a generous termination "package".  

 

The Archdiocese of Seattle and Zmuda’s fellow school leaders refused to tolerate his legal right to marry a man.

... and apparently, the Seattle Times editorial board refuses to tolerate the school's legal right to tailor its employment policies to its religious beliefs.  So now that we've marked out the boundaries of mutual intolerance, now what?

 

Unyoked from the virtues, compassion is a tub of sentimental goo.

Until I know more than I do now about how God works and hearts change, I will refrain from scoffing at unyoked compassion. People who have never heard of the theological and cardinal virtues, or who laugh at them, may still discover a small opening in their sealed hearts as they look on another person's suffering and wonder what they might do to alleviate it. Then compassion has healed even before the sufferer has received help. Compassion is not supposed to be the final answer. It is a beginning. But a dram of it may sometimes, as perhaps in the present case, do less harm and more good than a wagonload of sober, objective and systematic reflection.

People who have never heard of the theological and cardinal virtues, or who laugh at them, may still discover a small opening in their sealed hearts as they look on another person's suffering and wonder what they might do to alleviate it. Then compassion has healed even before the sufferer has received help

Without disagreeing with your insight, I don't think compassion, by itself, is a reliable guide to justice.  In at least some cases, it seems that it is compassion that has led bishops to give errant abusive priests another shot at parish ministry.

Compassion is not supposed to be the final answer.

I agree.  For that reason, I found the editorial wanting and disappointing.

 

So where is the justice here, Jim?

Abe, it seems pretty straightforward:

  • Employment at this school carries expectations for behavior
  • Those expectations, and penalties for violating them, are spelled out in a legal contract to which both parties voluntarily agree
  • One party violates a provision of the contract
  • The party receives the penalty stipulated in the contract

Absent any extenuating circumstances, enforcement of contracts is generally thought to be an exercise of justice.  

 

 Compassion is neither a theological nor a cardinal virtue.  Unyoked from the virtues, compassion is a tub of sentimental goo.

Yes, it's a shame we evolved from the reptilian stage and developed the ability to feel compassion (suffer with) others.  

Ever notice how a baby will start crying if s/he hears another baby crying.  S/he doesn't need to know why the other one is crying to share the passion/suffering.

 

JP - you state: "...... tolerate the school's legal right to tailor its employment policies to its religious beliefs."

A few thoughts: 

- you are only underlining the *institutional* church's orthodox beliefs....the *church* is so much more than what the *institution* is......using your definition, it would be saying that the church = canon law. 

- this diocesan decision flys in the face of both the words and actions of Francis

- this decision is more of the usual institutional *picking and choosing* which beliefs to enforce.....our religious beliefs also abhor divorce; sex outside of marriage; use of birth control; requires an Easter duty; abhors lying, stealing, etc.   Yet, the diocese has not *enforced* these religious beliefs in the same way.....is this inconsistent; is it cafeteria catholicism; is it cultural warrior stance gone wild; is it hypocritical?

- you appear to support and praise those who *just follow orders* - not my version of catholic morality

- this decision reeks of an approach to the church that is punitive; lacks mercy; puts law above mercy and love; makes orthodoxy the foundation.  Interesting that Jesus railed against the same type of Jewish *institutional* blindness and rigidity.

Refer to EJ Dionne's just published weekly column on this event.

JP - in a  follow up comment you state:  "In at least some cases, it seems that it is compassion that has led bishops to give errant abusive priests another shot at parish ministry."

Really - would suggest that this is where both your approach and understanding fails completely.

*Compassion* did not lead bishops to cover up.....putting the *institution first and only* is what led to cover-ups.....you have an interesting approach to *compassion* and comparing the two events?  In fact, would argue that this diocesan decision and episcopal cover-ups are the correct comparison - both lacked all compassion but stressed misguided loyalty; protect the insittutiion at all costs; ignore the actual victims (children, families, and this asst principal and his partner). 

Know things are wrong when mercy/love/compassion are replaced with some type of appeal to a catholic institution has the right to enforce its religious liberty.....and we have seen the results for decades - preach the merits of unions to the secular world but refuse to allow in its own institutions; inconsistent enforcement of a wide range of *laws*  (what about clerics who violate celibacy (always given a second, third, fourth chance); what about an institution that preaches against gay lifestyle but has a 30-50% rate of gay clerics.....this is an embarrassing and hypocritical stance requiring half of their priests to *hide* or *deny* who they are?

It will be interesting to see if Mark Zmuda files a lawsuit against the school for firing him -- or forcing him to resign, if that's what happened.

The Seattle Times' editorial does not mention a possible lawsuit against the school.

For many, this case asks the terrible old questiton: what should govern our decisions -- what we think is right or or what we feel is right?  I wonder what Miss Kay is thinking about Phil's statements.

I'm glad that I belong to my church and not Jim Pauwel's church.

Further to Ann’s comment ....

 

Morality is doing what is right, no matter what you are told.  Micromanaged "religion" is doing what you are told, no matter what is right.

 

“Vigorous minds will not suffer compulsion. To exercise compulsion is typical of tyrants; to suffer it, typical of asses.” Erasmus

What exactly does the Archdiocese hope to accomplish by firing Mr. Zmuda--change his sexual orientation?  Force gay students to shape up and be straight?  Not gonna happen.

This decision is a catholic institutional version of:  the law of the ruler takes precedence over the rule of law (gospel imperative of mercy and love)

Angela - according the article that Eduardo posted, it wasn't the archdiocese's decision, it was the school's decision.

 I expect that what the school leadership hopes to accomplish is to proclaim to the members of the school faith community that the integrity of sacramental life is worth taking a stand over, and that Christian moral teaching is real and binding - it isn't some theoretical construct to be ignored when it becomes a bit difficult or inconvenient.  It binds all of us who are members of the community, including people we love.  We do those we love no favors by lying to them - by telling them that they are exempt from the burdens of discipleship.  If we really love them, we offer to help them carry their cross.  We don't tell them that the cross is optional, or only for heterosexuals.

 

Morality is doing what is right, no matter what you are told.  Micromanaged "religion" is doing what you are told, no matter what is right.

Jim - in this case, "doing what is right" unquestionably means abiding by Catholic teaching.  Protesters who support this fired administrator wish to exempt him from the requirements of discipleship.  Why?  

Know things are wrong when mercy/love/compassion are replaced with some type of appeal to a catholic institution has the right to enforce its religious liberty.

Since you've invoked Pope Francis - who, by the way, has a history of opposing leglislation that would legalize gay marriage, which suggests that the popular interpretation of his "Who am I to judge?" remark is probably not quite right - let me suggest this: my reading of the Holy Father is that he would want to find the most compassionate, loving way of allowing this institution to preserve the integrity of sacraments and Christian moral life.  He would want to find a way to welcome this guy to remain a member of the faith community - again, without sacrificing church teaching.

In the school's judgment, the way to do so is to fire the poor guy.  If you tell me that's lacking in compassion, I'm not going to say you're wrong.  But what would be the more loving, compassionate, humane thing to do - still again, without tossing church teaching out the window?

 

Jim P:  > ...from the requirementof discpleship"

Are we, or even a catalogue of past institutional practices  and positions, to be judges of what counts as discipleship for another?  

Full disclosure: I am Protestant in the Reformed tradition, not Catholic (though I was raised Catholic unil I was16).   This is a statement that no Protestant in the Evangelical, Reformed (or other, to my knowledge)  traditions would imagine making.  As an adult I have friends wo are ordained religious in the Catholic Church, but I have neve had a hint that they believed anything such as this.

Mark L.

 

this decision reeks of an approach to the church that is punitive

When members of a community break the community's law, they should be punished.  That, by definition, is punitive.  For a community leader, whether it is a politican, a bishop or a school administrator, the requirement for just punishment is particularly important, because when a leader breaks the law, he is also violating the community's trust.  When a politician violates his oath of office by accepting bribes, the fact that the micreant is poorer than her peers, or African-American, or a woman, shouldn't exempt her from the law's requirements.

When a priest decides that he can no longer abide by his lifelong promise to live in continence, and has a woman move into the rectory with him, I suppose it would seem compassionate to let him have a little intimacy in his life.  But in fact, he is breaking the community's law in a serious way, and it is right that he be punished.  Parishioners may not be able to articulate exactly why this situation is profoundly wrong, but at least some of them would see that it is so - that it's a disordered situation that cries out for correction, for justice.  The compassionate response, "So he's got a girlfriend; what's the harm?" is misplaced in such a situation.  

 

 

Are we, or even a catalogue of past institutional practices  and positions, to be judges of what counts as discipleship for another?  

Yes.  There is a communal dimension to Christian life.  It has been so since Pentecost.  The communal dimension presupposes leaders who are vested with authority.  The school surely has a moral right and duty to establish and enforce standards of communal life.  I know very little about the Reformed tradition, but I would think analogous authority resides somewhere, whether with bishops as in the Catholic church, or a local council of leadership, or within the faith community as expressed democratically, or some other form.  

 

*Compassion* did not lead bishops to cover up

Bill - in my view, the rhetorical strategy, 'a bishop is like a father to his priests' represents a misapplication of compassion (i.e. the compassion is being extended to the erring cleric rather than to the victim of sexual abuse - the latter would be a genuine exercise of justice).  Such bishops seem to see themselves as the father in the Prodigal Son parable, rushing out to meet their repentant sons while they are still far off.  I assume it's clear how wrong-headed such an approach is.  It represents the triumph of compassion over justice.  

 

@ Jim Pauwels

 

That's really going to tie up the communion lines if every would-be communicant has to utter an oath of loyalty to "the communal dimension" somewhere between "The Body of Christ" and "Amen."

Jim P: But on what basis would we consider that the communal dimension speaks for Jesus in this regard (of discipleship)?   He chose His disciples and taught them directly.   My understanding of the Gospel is that they struggled mightily with what it meant to be a disciple, and not all succeeded - cetainly not on each occasion on which they were challenged   If Jesus could count Peter as his disciple after Peter's may failures, who are we to queston the discipleship of any other?

There are local leaiders wthin our congregations, as practical matters.  And there are certainly traditions, theologicla and sacremetal (though that is undersood differently than in Catholicism) , but for all Dissentng Protestants, our encounter with Jesus is ultimately personal: we do not know the mind of God, nor attempt to speak for what that might be as it affects the life in Faith and love of God of another.

In the matter in Seattle, there ae isses of contract law, and the school may be justified in separating him fom his position as a matter of civil law, tradition, or even canon law for all I know.   But it is entirely another matter to declare failure of dicipleship, surely.  Nonof us knows wher or how us may have called him to follow (Mark 2.14).

Mark L

But what would be the more loving, compassionate, humane thing to do - still again, without tossing church teaching out the window?

Without tossing anything out the window, it is possible and humanly humble to reexamine our beliefs in the light of altered circumstances and new understandings. Are the Church's teachings on sexuality God's irrevocable command, or are they the product of honest but fallible reasoning in natural theology mixed with dark fears and a desire to bind Catholics in submission to those who claim the power to forgive almost inevitable lapses? Must some Doctor of the Church who lived in a world almost as alien to us as Assyrian Nineveh be the last word on our most intimate relationships? Or is it possible to ask without contumacy: where are we today? and where are God and our own best promptings leading us?

Jim Pauwels wrote:

<blockquote>

When members of a community break the community's law, they should be punished.

</blockquote>

Isn't that exactly what they did to Jesus ?

We really need to hesitate, sit down, pray, and consider very carefully before we start sacking staff for something which has no basis in Torah, Gospel or Scripture whatsoever.

There is nothing in Catholic law against 2 men making  a public comittment of love and fidelity to each other thru a state marriage ceremony.  Those who think that there is simply do not ununderstand the law properly.  And that's exaclty what got Christ crucified.

The Church has got to stop shooting herself in the foot by these crazy and self-destructive actions which are ruining the good name of the Church, sinking the New Evangelisation, destroying our public credilibily, especially among the young, and are quite contary to Pope Francis' "who am I to judge?".

God Bless

The church knows it has lost the hearts and minds of pretty much everyone on this issue  - I think this is their way of inflicting pain in retribution.

Sorry , Jim - that quote or *line* you have quoted has not held up to scrutiny or fact finding.  Yes, some bishops have stated that they see themselves as their priests' fathers - thus, covered up, made excuses, etc.

Reality - in almost all cases, bishops acted to protect the institution (they really didn't care for the priest - they just said that...words only).

Follow the money in any diocesan scandal; follow the money in those dioceses where there has been a federal grand jury convened.

Some simple questions and facts that demonstrate that few bishops acted as a *father*

- did the insurance company legal team call the shots and direct the responses?

- did the diocesan legal team do the same?

- how often did the bishop meet with the offending priest (once, possibly twice) and then he was set adrift (some paid monthly stipend - guess that qualifies as *fatherhood*???).  When in court, bishops were asked about these abusing priests, bishops were unable to say where they were; when they last met them; what they were doing, etc.  (strange type of *fatherhood*)

Sorry, what you quoted was just a *game* and legal excuse to divert attention from their own legal strategies and an attempt to cover things with a veneer of respectability.

http://www.awrsipe.com/Doyle/2011/Doyle%20-%20Excerpts%20from%2018%20reports%20-%20June%2027,%202011[1].pdf

Highlighted quote: 

The evidence before us established that Archdiocese officials at the highest levels received reports of abuse; that they chose not to conduct any meaningful investigation of those reports; that they left dangerous priests in place or transferred them to different parishes as a means of concealment; that they never alerted parents of the dangers posed by these offenders (who typically went out of their way to be friendly and helpful, especially with children); that they intimidated and retaliated against victims and witnesses who came forward about abuse; that they manipulated "treatment" efforts in order to create a false impression of action; and that they did many of these things in a conscious effort simply to avoid civil liability.

Sorry, to try to pass these facts on as *acting as a father* is either significant denial on your part or just callous ignorance.

 

 

Here you go: 

"In at least some cases, it seems that it is compassion that has led bishops to give errant abusive priests another shot at parish ministry."

This is a very interesting observation.   I do not see much compassion being shown towards those bishops and pastors who concluded that compassion required wayward priests be given a second chance, often with experts advising these pastors/bishops that the offending priests were showing signs of recovery.   Or are there limits to compassion, such that if you are not a member of the latest approved aggrieved minority, you simply do not qualify?

I don't think it's so terrible, Ann, though it certainly is as old as thought.  In fact, of course, it's all the same thing.  We constantly both think and feel.  We're not capable of doing either alone.

Jim Pauwels wrote:

I expect that what the school leadership hopes to accomplish is to proclaim to the members of the school faith community that the integrity of sacramental life is worth taking a stand over...

How does same-sex civil marriage, or hetero-sex civil marriage for that matter, impact sacramental life? Civil marriage is about a set of rights and responsibilities offered to adult couples in our civl society.  It allows two people to contract with one another to enter into a legally protected and legally obligated relationship.  Sure, it has some roots in Christian sacramental notions -- but it is just as rooted in even more ancient practices where women were essentially chattel owned by men.  My point is what we call modern civil marriage in the United States of America has little to do with the Catholic sacrament of marriage.

If the Church really cared about the "integrity of sacramental life" stop accepting "the power vested" in its clergy "by the State of _____________".  Make Catholic couples have a second civil ceremony if they want the legal protections of the civil marriage contract.  Protect the sacrament by distinguishing it from the civil contract -- not by railing about how expanding the civil rights of same-sex couples diminishes marriage.

Sorry - that comment had no context.  I was replying to Ann Olivier:

Ann Olivier SUBSCRIBER December 23, 2013 - 12:02pm

 

For many, this case asks the terrible old questiton: what should govern our decisions -- what we think is right or or what we feel is right?  I wonder what Miss Kay is thinking about Phil's statements.

 

"When members of a community break the community's law, they should be punished."

Really?  Maybe the church needs something akin to "jury nullification" in order to assure justice to the individual(s) affected by an institutional leadership's decision. 

The decision to fire the vice-principal "wasn't the archdiocese's decision, it was the school's decision."

According to Eastside Catholic's website, the school --- albeit "independent" --- is "recognized" by the Seattle archdiocese as Catholic.  The archdiocesan website has several links to/about Eastside Catholic high school.  School leadership would not have been unmindful of the archbishop's interest in this matter. 

"The communal dimenson presupposes leaders who are vested with authority." 

One in three persons raised Catholic is ex-Catholic.  Each convert to Catholiism is matched by four departures from the church.  The 2012 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, using figures supplied by the churches themselves in 2010, showed a .44 membership *decline* in the church.  Latinos and Hispanics, who comprise a traditionally strong Catholic base, are not necessarily remaining in the Catholic Church.  At last report, 70 percent of Catholics including churchgoers support women's ordination.  Catholics by and large support contraception, and a majority approve of same-sex civil marriage.  What do these figures suggest about the merits of "authority" exercised by Catholic hierarchs and other institutional leaders today?

I congratulate the young people at Eastside Catholic for challenging the official school leadership (and, by extension, the Seattle archbishop).  With the internet, news media, and various social communications tools, I think we are witnessing a *rapid* paradigm change in the Church of Rome, namely, the official learners are now teaching an understandably resistant group of official doctrinal  teachers.  Borrowing from the adult education model, we are participating in Catholic doctrine-in-the-making:  Teachers and learners are also, respectively, learners and teachers.   

 

 

 

 

 

I should add that these Eastside Catholic students, like most of the rest of us, are mirroring the ancient practice of ecclesial reception acknowledged in canons 749.3 and 750.1 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law.  If church law imposes this requirement on *proposed* infallible teaching, then it should stand to reason that Catholics should be expected to use their God-given brains to determine the reasonableness (for lack of a better word) of any *proposed* non-infalible teaching. 

CORRECTION: An earlier sentence should read: The 2012 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, using CY 2010 figures supplied by the churches themselves to the publisher in 2011, showed a .44 percent membership *decline* in the church.

" We constantly both think and feel.  We're not capable of doing either alone."

David Smith --

That might be true, but the problem is that sometimes what we feel is inconsistent with what we think, and then the futher problem arises:  what must we do -- follow our hearts or follow our heads?  Suppose your 8 year-old tells a lie.  Your mind says that's wrong, but you also know that the poor kid was just trying to protect his 6 year-old sister from a punishment which he thinks is unfair to her.  So you feel some compassion for him -- his lie was to protect her, he thought.  So should you lessen the punishment he deserves because of his kindly intention?  Which should take precedence -- what is just or what is compassionate?  Why?

The Phil Robertson affair is somewhat similar to this one -- someone is following his conscience, but his conscience does not match that of his employer.  Should the high school accept the gay man's conscience and behavior?  An article in the Atlantic (as I remember) considers the issue and points out that *tolerance* is not the same thing as *acceptance*, and acceptance isn't the same thing as *approval*.

Perhaps the solution in the school's case is to accept the man as he is, tolerating his beliefs while approving his otherwise admirable values, but make it clear to the students that the Church does not approve of his his sexual beliefs and possible/probable behavior.  Would the students be mature enough to handle that?  Is the bishop mature enough to handle that?  

It seems to me that the official Church often acts exactly like that -- it accepts other sorts of sinners as participants in the community while condemning what it sees as our sins but approving our virtues.

The question is:  which are the sins, if any, which the Church should not tolerate?  If a nun beats kids regularly she would certainly not be an acceptable teacher.  The question is:  where to draw the line?

Then, of course, there is still the old, even more basic issue:  is homosexual sex always sinful? Why or why not?

 

 

 

 

I think what I was trying to say, Ann (today, 1:03 am), was that the distinction we make between thinking and feeling isn't real, that it's just a semantic tool.  Language distorts reality.

If Jesus could count Peter as his disciple after Peter's may failures, who are we to queston the discipleship of any other?

 

The difference is that Peter quickly realized his failure and asked for forgiveness. Most here think the teacher is correct and should take pride in his actions.  As I recall, Pride is one of the seven deadly sins. 

 

Perhaps the solution in the school's case is to accept the man as he is, tolerating his beliefs while approving his otherwise admirable values, but make it clear to the students that the Church does not approve of his his sexual beliefs and possible/probable behavior.

Ann - I agree that this is another possibility, and I wouldn't be surprised to learn that other schools would handle this situation this way.  It may be this the school didn't do what you suggest for purely legal reasons, i.e. if the school set aside the abide-by-Catholic-teachings clause in employment contracts in this case, it might set a precedent that would cause problems for it in the future with other employees.  Just speculating.

 

If the Church really cared about the "integrity of sacramental life" stop accepting "the power vested" in its clergy "by the State of _____________".  Make Catholic couples have a second civil ceremony if they want the legal protections of the civil marriage contract.  Protect the sacrament by distinguishing it from the civil contract -- not by railing about how expanding the civil rights of same-sex couples diminishes marriage.

Jack - it may be that we will end up where you suggest: a couple who wishes to be married in the eyes of both church and state would have two ceremonies.  I believe this requirement already exists elsewhere (I'm told it is so in Brazil, but that's just hearsay, I don't know it to be the case).

I'm not sure, though, that this sharper distinction would solve the problem in this particular case.  The core issue is that, in the eyes of the church, two men cannot be married to one another, and for two men to live as though they were married to one another is (in the eyes of the church) a rather serious moral problem.  If the employee wants to persist in his civil marriage (which of course is the rational expectation), I don't know a workaround for that objection on the part of the church, except to respectfully and amicably agree to part ways. 

 

 Or are there limits to compassion, such that if you are not a member of the latest approved aggrieved minority, you simply do not qualify?

Mark - I actually think this is a bit of a complicated question.  I expect you'd agree with me that an openly gay person who has lived in the US during the 20th century, and I presume still today, suffers many indignities, slights, insults and even personal attacks, just in the course of going about his or her daily living.  I can just imagine what an openly gay employee of the church must endure from members of the faith community. Surely they are deserving of, yes, our compassion, and we should show solidarity with them.  

At the same time, sexual inclination now also seems to be a protected legal status.  Suppose that two employees were fired by the school: the gay employee whom we are discussing here, and a heterosexual employee who was fired for remarrying without first getting an annulment.  Because being gay is a protected legal status (a status that is rooted in compassion) but being heterosexual isn't, the gay employee would have legal weapons at his disposal that the hetero employee, and the Catholic church employer, wouldn't.  To that extent, being gay is, legally speaking, a somewhat privileged thing to be.

I also think it is genuinely difficult for many people to feel much compassion toward members of religious institutions like the Catholic church or the Church of Latter Day Saints, even though there is a long history of discrimination and oppression against members of both faiths in the US, and certainly there are a series of legal attacks against the Catholic church today, from the contraception mandate to that dumb lawsuit against the bishops filed by the ACLU over the botched treatment of the pregnant woman in Muskegon.

 

 If Jesus could count Peter as his disciple after Peter's may failures, who are we to queston the discipleship of any other?

Perhaps we shouldn't question it, but the duly constituted authority of this faith community has a right to do so, and in light of easily-established objective facts such as this employee's entering into a same sex civil marriage, it has a duty to uphold the community's standards.

Acts 15 presents one model for how the Christian community has worked through these issues.  The solution they discerned seems to incorporate mercy and tolerance (in general, Gentiles are exempt from the Mosaic law) but also does impose certain expectations and standards.  Thus, it seems that even in the earliest Christian communities, standards were imposed by the community, but these standards must exist in a certain tension with mercy.  

 

That's really going to tie up the communion lines if every would-be communicant has to utter an oath of loyalty to "the communal dimension" somewhere between "The Body of Christ" and "Amen."

Angela - I guess I would say that the Body of Christ *is* the communal dimension.  "Amen"  is an affirmation of belief and acceptance of what the Body of Christ believes.  

 

Why do you post so many times in a row?

To that extent, being gay is, legally speaking, a somewhat privileged thing to be.

Is there an anti-discrimination law anywhere in the United States that includes sexual orientation without exempting churches, or a church that is firing divorced and remarried heterosexual employees? Or is this an example of how people damage their own case with ill-chosen hypotheticals?

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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.