dotCommonweal

A blog by the magazine's editors and contributors

.

Time to throw in the towel? UPDATE

East Side Catholic, widely covered on dotCommonweal, made it big today: Front Page treatment by the NYTimes (print edition, January 23, 2013). Top people at the school have bailed. There is concern about future enrollment and current donors (though the story gives no data). The schools contradictory statements and decisions have it in a tangle. The students are in charge. Story here.

Time to close the school down?

Just for fun: the story is by Michael Paulson, once at the Boston Globe where he shut down Cardinal Law.

UPDATE:  Given the direction of the discourse here and other relevant posts, perhaps I should have headlined this post:  THE TOWEL WILL BE THROWN IN   suggesting that the school is unlikely to survive the controversy, having nothing to do with the bishop or the church's teachings, as such, but with the conclusions, economic and political, of the parents of all the students (protestors and non-protestors as well as next year's applicants).

Topics: 

Comments

Commenting Guidelines

Ms. O'Brien Steinfels, feel free to address me by my first name.

This article answers some of your questions.

http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2022494004_gayprincipalprotestxml...

Mr. Zmuda's marriage appears to have become public about 2 weeks before the firing.

Regarding an order to fire -- this article also offers insight:

Eastside Catholic president Sister Mary Tracy said she discussed Zmuda’s case in person with Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain within the last two weeks and they had what she described as a collaborative conversation.

Sartain didn’t give her an explicit order to fire Zmuda, Tracy said. Rather, “We were directed to comply with the teachings of the church.”

I take that statement on its face.  I submit it reveals a failure to act in a more thoughtful, pastoral fashion in this admittedly difficult situation.  The Archbishop could have told her to focus on the totality of Catholic teaching, including the Catechism which teaches us that gay people MUST "be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity".    He could have helped her come up with a different resolution that balanced the less authoritative teachings on this reality civil society calls same-sex marriage.

It is increasingly my belief that Sr. Tracy is someone, if she were permitted to excercise her  wisdom, her understanding of the the core of Catholic teaching and her pastoral sensibilities, would have found way to not fire Zmuda.  The Archdiocese and Sartain boxed her in.

Since resigning it is reported that Sr. Tracy sent this email:

I look forward to the day when no individual loses their job because they're married to a person of the same sex.

http://mynorthwest.com/108/2428033/Eastside-Catholic-staff-member-defend...

there was something in his contract that he violated.

That's a legal issue. My guess is that the school probably has a legal right to fire him if they want to do that. 

But is it the right decision? I'd like to hear the reasoning of the person who made the decision.  

Clearly, the Church teaches that sexual activity between persons of the same sex is sinful. 

But, absent some other teaching that I've overlooked, that doesn't get you to:

"Church teaching forbids us to have a person in a same-sex marriage as a teacher."

Sartain didn’t give her an explicit order to fire Zmuda, Tracy said. Rather, “We were directed to comply with the teachings of the church.”

And those teachings are?

Did she understand that she had the option not to fire him?

Mr. Hayes-

I imagine people who think there is a conflict with "teachings of the church" to allow Zmuda to stay look to documents like this:

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_...

No doubt that broad swaths of the US Church in its "teaching" role has opted to go whole-hog into the fighting gay civil marriage business.

http://www.marriageuniqueforareason.org/church-teaching/

The question is -- have these teachings become so central that other teachings about acceptance, love and non-discrimination are trumped?

The Church could have taken a different pastoral course here and been far more neutral about same-gender marriage -- the same way it is largely neutral about laws regulating mixed gender civil marriage.  The Church rarely weighs in (certainly not with the same resources) on liberalized divorce laws, etc.  In specific cases such as Mr. Zmuda's, "Don't Ask Don't Tell" could easily work.  Just like a Catholic employer does not and should not asked mixed gender couples if they are using contraception -- a Catholic employer should make no assumptions (certainly ask no questions) about 2 men taking advantage of civil laws which afford them certain legal rights and responsibilities.  For all we know, getting married was just a way for two people who care for one another to share resources, pass on property, get health insurance, etc.  For all we know, a civillly married gay couple may be following the advice of groups like Courage and living celibate lives.  I wonder what the Church would do if someone like Zmuda were to declare - "But for these recent teachings on gay marriage, my same gender spouse and I are committed to Church teachings on sexual practice."

 

Ms. Steifels - Two things....the comments above about pastoral vs. rigid legalism is exactly why I quoted Francis on annulments and my own opinion that Sartain did not approach this pastorally.

Second, would suggest that the sister's resignation tells lots (yes, you are correct...no public statement that links this directly to Sartain and yes, a good reporter, etc., etc.)

In terms of your last question.....one reported story is that Zmuda was in a group of teachers who were discussing another teacher's plans to marry and the best route to order flowers, etc.  Zmuda recommended a business that he and his partner had used....this story then made its way through the staff to the priincipal, etc.  (myth or fact - who knows?)

Finally - concede that his employment can be terminated via the interpretation used.  Does that make it wise?  As I have posted previously, it is a narrow interpretation; it is hypocritical given that other situations even at Eastside also violate that interpretation and yet no action has been taken; it too often is a *don't tell, don't ask* approach (how moral is that?). 

Okey, dokey, JACK @1:45 PM! You may call me Peggy.

Thanks for the links, parts of which remind me of the high octane emotional bubble adolescents live in.

Was Sister Tracy thrown under the bus? Maybe she did what her conscience dictated and resigned.

The news story you cite from December 19, 2013 ends with a quote from my favorite relief pitcher. He pretty much sums up the situation from a "this is how Catholic history works" perspective:

"Thomas Reese, a Jesuit priest, author and former editor of America, a weekly Catholic magazine, said Catholic institutions tend to ignore an employee’s sexual orientation and activities as long as those activities are not widely known. But entering into a same-sex marriage, he said, crosses the line. “Catholic institutions have been following ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ long before the U.S. miliary was,” he said. In the 1950s and 1960s, he said, it wasn’t unheard-of for people employed by the church to be fired if they divorced and then remarried. “We are seeing greater acceptance (of gay marriage) in American society — among young people and among a majority of Catholics,” Reese said. “The church isn’t going to be celebrating gay marriage, but eventually people aren’t going to be fired for this kind of thing.”

Jim Pauwels @ 1/24, 11:45 post captures what could be the way the situation will evolve:

"There are three components to this form of acceptance:

  • ​The church recognizes that same sex marriage is a cultural reality
  • The church holds that same sex marriage's cultural reality exists outside of the church - it is not part of the church.  It is something from which the church, because of its religious beliefs, distances itself
  • Even though same sex marriage is not of the church, the church acknowledges the prudence of existing amicably alongside the institution of same sex marriage.  It treats people who are in same sex marriages with respect and love."

In between, for another project I have been reading (in addition to Robert Gates, DutyParish School: American Catholic Parochial Education from Colonial Times to the Present by Timothy Walch. Talk about making sausages! It is a miracle that there ever was/is a Catholic school system. Are we seeing its final days? That's what's been running through my fevered brain the last couple of days.

sorry for the repeated comments [MOS: repaired] - agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Marth and he also provided the link to the same reporter story that I was remembering.

Sartain like many current US cultural warrior bishops place rigidly imposed law over pastoral common sense and the good of a catholic community.  Their *certitude* about same sex marriage reminds many of us about the same *certitude* exhibited for centuries about other non-negoitable issues e.g. slavery, democractic governance, end of the papal states, birth control, etc.

It is a version of our long tradtion of hierarchs acting like the Pharisees.

You wish you had leaders like the Pharisees.

On another note - would ask Sartrain to read John Noonan's book "A Church that can and can not change" - excellent summary by your husband published at NYT on May 22, 2005.

Highlights:

"In ''A Church That Can and Cannot Change,'' Noonan drives home the point that some Catholic moral doctrines have changed radically. History, he concludes, does not support the comforting notion that the church simply elaborates on or expands previous teachings without contradicting them."

OTOH - Mr. Steinfels does appear to ask the same questions you are asking:

"Such denial, still widespread, means that examining change in official teaching -- or what became known in the 19th century as ''development of doctrine'' -- poses two challenges: first, to establish that alterations -- some more than minor -- have unquestionably occurred; and second, to show how they can be reconciled with the church's claim to preach the same essential message Jesus and his disciples did 2,000 years ago, presumably deriving criteria that can help distinguish legitimate evolution in the future from deviations or betrayals."

"Vatican II's Declaration on Religious Liberty reversed a long-held position that ''error has no rights,'' despite the fact that only a few years previously a theologian like John Courtney Murray, the Jesuit whose defense of American separation of church and state laid the groundwork for the decree, had been silenced. This kind of dramatic rehabilitation gives heart, rightly or wrongly, to critics of other teachings, like those on women's ordination or sexual morality."

Yet, he goes on to say:

"But do they offer insights that might aid Catholics in distinguishing legitimate from illegitimate developments in doctrine? In a negative sense, yes. Noonan believes in an unchanging element in Catholic teaching, a core continuity from Jesus to today. But from his cases he can deduce no rules of thumb to determine what falls within this continuity. His cases contravene the organic image of a gradual unfolding of latent truth. Nor does he find that categories like ''unnatural'' or ''intrinsic evil,'' meant to sort out the immutable from the mutable, make solid sense of past changes."

"He insists that genuine development arises from experience deepened by empathy. ''That your love abound more and more in knowledge and in insight of every kind so that you test what is vital,'' St. Paul wrote, and Noonan repeatedly refers to this linking of love, knowledge and insight. He closes with St. Augustine's rule of faith: a true understanding of divine revelation is one that will ''build up that double love of God and of neighbor.''

As Murray said well - *development of doctrine is the underlying truth of Vatican II"....if only the current episcopate understood that...guess we continue to wait and see when Vatican II will be truly tried and lived.

Bill deHaas @ 2:54: Yes, Pharisees, and not very bright ones at that (as Abe points out). But not sure the archbishop now in dotCWL's dock is among the worst. It's hard to compare.

Why did I want to know what Archbishop Sartain really said, if he said anything. In the good old days, wouldn't he have shown up at Eastside Catholic, fired Mr. Z, fired Sister Tracy, removed the lay board, and spent two hours lecturing everyone else?

Can't do that any more. Wouldn't do that any more. So he follows in the line of authority required by an independent school in the Catholic tradition, discusses Mr. Z with Sister Tracy, who does what she feels obliged to do as head of school in Catholic tradition, and who then resigns. I can't say I feel sorry for the archbishop, but I can imagine he is himself caught up in a system that is half way between authoritarian and contractual, i.e., sorta democratic, sorta liberal, and sorta Catholic.

Why don't we all read John Noonan's book and check back.

Thank you Mr. Rosenzeig!  Your comment deserves its own posting.

How I long for a leader in my Church today with the wisdom of a Pharisee such as Gamaliel.

 

“Their swimming lessons?”

I thought the “S” in MOS stood for Steinfels, but I see that it is Snarky.

The lesson I mentioned above and I’ll repeat here:  “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.”

The days of the Catholic schools goal of turning out good little unthinking automoton parrots are long gone, as they should be.

Jim McCrea: Now we are blessed with little unthinking liberals!

BTW, that was not a snarky remark, but a social-psychological observation playing off Jim Pauwels comment about the photos of Mr. Z's girl supporters. Why not have a crush on your swimming teacher who happens to be gay. You can flirt all you want without fear of harrassment. Perhaps too vulgar an observation for you, but is it mistaken?

1) Do others concur with Mr. Pauwels' claim that the protests are dominated by girls?

2) I think it is misogynistic and condescending to "psychologize" these students' actions on the basis of some conjectured crush. If I were them, I would be even less inclined to listen to adults poo-pooing their actions.

Ms. Steinfels - think I know what and where you are going with your psychology but really - you sound like the recent Governor Huckaboo *libido and government sugar* comments.

Given what I exerienced and saw in Joliet (Sartain), your conjecture about *his caught in the middle* rings hollow.  That is what pastoral leadership is about; not taking orders.

And to think in the 1970s - Hunthausen (must be rolling over in his grave)

MOS:  for liberals (or anyone) to think in a manner with which you do not agree is not the same as unthinking.

Bill: Archbishop Hunthausen is retired, not dead.

I am going back to reading Robert Gates, but before I go:

Abe Rosenzweig: Re: "Conjectured Crushes, see Evolutionary Psychology and Psycholog Today.

On unthinkingness: 

Jim McCrea  "The days of the Catholic schools goal of turning out good little unthinking automoton parrots are long gone, as they should be."

Jim McCrea: "to think in a manner with which you do not agree is not the same as unthinking."

So which is it?

And to reassure you: I may agree with some of those unthinking little liberal high school students. I am just waiting to hear a real analysis from them. Can you head north and interview a few?

At ninety-two, Archbishop Hunthausen lives in retirement in Helena, his diocese of ordination and where he served as bishop from 1962 to 1975 before his appointment as archbishop of Seattle. He attended all four sessions of the Council and is the only survivor among the bishops of US dioceses, ordinaries and auxiliaries, who were present at Vatican II.

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels wrote:

Jim McCrea: Now we are blessed with little unthinking liberals!

BTW, that was not a snarky remark, but a social-psychological observation playing off Jim Pauwels comment about the photos of Mr. Z's girl supporters. Why not have a crush on your swimming teacher who happens to be gay. You can flirt all you want without fear of harrassment. Perhaps too vulgar an observation for you, but is it mistaken?

Really? -- "little unthinking liberals".  For someone searching for more evidence of Sartain's true role here and Sr. Tracy's true motivations this is remarkable for its sweeping generalization with no evidence to support it.  Is it possible there are some students who simply got swept into the cool thing to do? -- no doubt.  But it is also seems almost certain there are some really smart, thoughtful young men and women at Eastside who decided this was something that deserved a strong and well thought out response.  I have the opportunity to spending some time with young men and women in Catholic schools in NYC and I know many who are dedicated, smart and well-instilled with tools of rational ethical analysis.  They are mature and understand complexities of situations like this.  Some of them could be categorized as liberal and some conservative.  (BTW, I am certain there are students at Eastside involved in these protests who hold many other positions that would clearly be categorized as conservative.  Don't assume just because they support this "liberal" protest, they endorse other "liberal" ideas.) I am sure students like the ones I know here in NYC exist at Eastside.  It gives me great hope.

Harassment (sexual and otherwise) has little or nothing to do with orientation.  What makes you think a gay male adult is incapable of harassing a female high school student?  So yes -- I think you are very mistaken. 

Conversely to assume young women at Eastside are involved in this movement because of a crush is as others have suggested, misogynist.

Finally -- do we really want to base any analysis of this situation on a superficial review of the faces seen in a few photos?  Is there really any basis for this idea that more young women at Eastside are involved?

Finally -- do we really want to base any analysis of this situation on a superficial review of the faces seen in a few photos?

I don't.

Margaret - if Catholic education doesn't survive, I think it will primarily be because the basic business model doesn't work: religious sisters and brothers no longer staff the faculties at paltry wages (talk about slave labor!) and governments do very little to subsidize Catholic schools. In that unpromising economic landscape, Eastside seems like the kind of place that would survive, i.e. it seems to be in an upscale community (two seconds of Googling inform me that average household income is $100K+, and average home value is $500K+), in a relatively affluent part of the country.  A lot of parents presumably can afford to pay full tuition and it's likely that there is a donor base of alumni and community members.

I doubt the now-resigned principal (or was she school president?) made the decision to fire Zmuda without the consultation and approval of the school board.  Didn't the chairman also resign?  Based on her post-resignation comment, I doubt her heart was in the firing.  Maybe she resigned to remove what became an unresolvable conflict between her professional responsibilities and her personal views, as much as or more than whatever editorials are appearing in the Seattle newspaper.

Regarding Sartain: unless some more evidence is forthcoming, I don't suppose that his fingerprints are all over this firing, except to the extent that he pretty clearly signaled to the school board that if they fired Zmuda, he'd support that decision.  Eastside is independent of the archdiocese.  I'd be surprised if there isn't at least one diocesan priest on the school board; but if diocesan priests in Seattle are anything like the ones in Chicago, they aren't simple rubber-stamps or proxies for the bishop.  Overall, I think the most straightforward way to understand the situation, and the way that is supported by the evidence we have, is that the school principal and school board made a controversial decision, basically on their own responsibility, and are now under fire for it.

 

"On unthinkingness:

Jim McCrea "The days of the Catholic schools goal of turning out good little unthinking automoton parrots are long gone, as they should be."

Jim McCrea: "to think in a manner with which you do not agree is not the same as unthinking."

So which is it?"

 

How does one of those statements contradict the other?

Abe Rosenzweig: Re: "Conjectured Crushes, see Evolutionary Psychology and Psycholog Today

The PT article seems to be on the level of Dr. Oz. The EP one made the rounds last year, and I read it then; it doesn't seem to have anything to it that is relevant to schoolgirl crushes on gay men. Neither article seems to support that reading of the situation. Plus, if you want to chalk this outcry up to some girls with a crush, you'd have to ignore the basic fact that teens are just more and more supportive of marriage equality.

In Hosanna-Tabor (which we considered in another thread) the Supreme Court decided that a church s has the right to appoint its ministers (or something like that), and (as I remember it) the decision viewed at least some teachers a ministers, and the Court decided that the church alone can decide whether or not a teacher is a minister.

It seems to me that these principles are perhaps the ones guiding the decision whether to terminate Mr. Z's employment.  Implicit in the school's act seems to be the assumption that he is being a dissenting minister by teaching the students something contrary to Church belief and, therefore, he may not be a teacher in the school..  

But does a civilly legal violation of a practice really *teach* the students something contrary to the Church's beliefs?  I gather that Mr. Z. is not trying to persuade his students in class that the teaching of the Church is wrong.  He is not a religion teacher or even a Humanities teacher in which the subject of gay marriage would likely become a topic.  So I don't see how you can say he is a minister teaching the students a dissenting belief.

Perhaps the administration wants to hold that he is *showing* (by making the fact public) that he disputes  the Church teaching, and I think that this is true -- he is doing that.  But I do not think that that constitutes being a teacher who is dissenting minister of the Church.  People say and show their dissent from Church teachings all the time (e.g., contraception, capital punishment), but those people aren't fired for speaking their non-authoritative mind.  Why should Mr. Z be treated differently?

 

The days of the Catholic schools goal of turning out good little unthinking automoton parrots are long gone, as they should be.

Jim M.,

 

I was in Catholic high school in those long gone days, and I never heard that goal announced. (Well, I suppose anybody would be sly about something like that.) It's true that teachers weren't eager to field questions or hold debates on Catholic doctrine, especially if they had any aroma of dissent about them. And children, even teenagers, "knew their place." But it wasn't a time for questioning on much of anything in America. The Feminine Mystique was still several years in the future, and "Father Knows Best" and "love, honor, and obey" were the proffered models for womanly comportment. Jackie Robinson was playing for the Dodgers, and Rosa Parks had taken a seat, but the fire storm of the civil rights era was still a mere glimmer on the horizon, and "Colored" signs were still for sale in Southern hardware stores. Stonewall and Gay Pride and the great coming out in response to the AIDS epidemic were unimaginable still, and no one in the world was talking about, or probably even thinking about, same-sex marriage. The Supreme Court struck down anti-sodomy laws less than eleven years ago.

 

I am still amazed when I contemplate the breadth and speed of the changes I have lived through. With all our quarrelsomeness and turmoil and folly, I think we are a better people, more truly alive, more truly human than we were when I was young. And I give a fair share of the credit to those not so devious or benighted teachers in high school who helped mold me for this new world.

JM @1/25, 7:29 pm. "On unthinkingness:

Jim McCrea "The days of the Catholic schools goal of turning out good little unthinking automoton parrots are long gone, as they should be."

Jim McCrea: "to think in a manner with which you do not agree is not the same as unthinking."

So which is it?"

 How does one of those statements contradict the other?

You call the Catholic schools of yore "unthinking" because you disagree with what presumably were their views on a variety of subjects, perhaps especially homosexuality (if the subject ever came up!).

I call the students of Eastside Catholic "unthinking liberals" and you say it's because I do not agree with their views.

We are both wrong, of course: you in your generalization about schools of yore (you should say some); I am wrong because of my generalization about students at Eastside (I should say some). Unfortunately, the one quote from a student in the newspaper went something like--I don't have to accept what the Catholic church teaches.  That's not a reason or an argument; it's an assertion and a generalization.

Rita Ferrone wrote: If the students don't believe the school ought to follow Church teaching and the principal and staff doesn't either, the jig is up. They ought to found an independent Christian school, where the policies will reflect what their consciences demand.

It is different to doubt, to question Church teaching. I see no questions here, though, only certitude that the Church's teaching is wrong, that it is unjust to uphold it, and that it must be resisted wherever it occurs. It's a situation of seige and demand for an unconditional surrender. The principal resigned in the face of it.

 

That makes an assumption that the school doesn't want to follow Church teaching.

I have been trying (without much success) to address a much more limited issue, which runs like this, 

- Even if you accept and support the Church's teaching that sexual activity beween people of the same sex is sinful,

and

- Even if you accept the 2003 CDF "CONSIDERATIONS REGARDING PROPOSALS TO GIVE LEGAL RECOGNITION TO UNIONS   BETWEEN HOMOSEXUAL PERSONS" as teaching that you may not support the legalization of same sex marriages,are you obligated to fire Mr Zmuda? Or is that a prudential decision for you [the school aithorities] to make? 

So far, I think it is a prudential decision. In that case, you can argue that the school made the wrong decision without denying either of the two teachings I listed above. 

 

Does anyone know of a Church teaching that says that a person in a same-sex marriage cannot teach in a Catholic school? The CDF document doesn't say that. 

 

If it is a prudential decision, I think it's a great teaching opportunity for the school to explain its reasoning in arriving at that decision. 

Sorry, a paragraph break got lost. 

This

- Even if you accept the 2003 CDF "CONSIDERATIONS REGARDING PROPOSALS TO GIVE LEGAL RECOGNITION TO UNIONS   BETWEEN HOMOSEXUAL PERSONS" as teaching that you may not support the legalization of same sex marriages,are you obligated to fire Mr Zmuda? Or is that a prudential decision for you [the school aithorities] to make? 

should have looked like this

- Even if you accept the 2003 CDF "CONSIDERATIONS REGARDING PROPOSALS TO GIVE LEGAL RECOGNITION TO UNIONS BETWEEN HOMOSEXUAL PERSONS" as teaching that you may not support the legalization of same sex marriages,

are you obligated to fire Mr Zmuda? Or is that a prudential decision for you [the school authorities] to make? 

I never went to a traditional Catholic high school:  I went to 3 years of minor seminary in the late 1950s.  No one can accuse THAT system of fostering critical thinking skills, at least not the one in the upper midwest that I attended!  My last year was spent in a public high school which was marginally better at teaching one HOW and WHY to think. 

Maybe some of the more traditional Catholic high schools were better at that, but I need to see proof of that.  Again, I'm basing my experiences on the 1950s, the hey days of trimphal Catholicism in the US.

Grade school?  Nope.  Memorize and parrot back the catechism EXACTLY as written.  Ditto for most other classes.  The nuns I had were good but were also victims of the academic philosophy and milieu of those times. 

Thank God I found the Jesuits in college!

Correction, Jim M. You don't find Jesuits. Jesuits find you. :-)

'It's true that teachers weren't eager to field questions or hold debates on Catholic doctrine, especially if they had any aroma of dissent about them."

John Prior ==

I don't doubt that this was true of boys schools, but I wonder if it was equally true in girls high schools.  I remember, for instance, arguing in class in favor of the theory of evolution.  Finally, dear old Sr. Vincent replied, "Well, maybe your grandfather was an ape, but mine wasn't".  End of discussion :-)  But she never held my argumentativeness against me -- she even invited me to be a nun!  (No chance.)  And I wasn't the only one who argued.  

I suspect that the nuns' relative openness to argumentation in my day was strengthened in more recent decades -- and this is the reason why so many  nuns are in trouble with the Vatican today and so few priests are.  It also might be one reason why the Vatican is pathologically afraid of women -- they know our tendency to speak out.  

It looks like maybe a priest "from the other end of the Earth" (one who even loved to tango!) will be the one who forces the Vatican elders to take a look at the reality of women.

When I was in the second grade and a know-it-all boy raised his hand and asked, Sister, Sister, what about Darwin? Sister Mary Bride replied, Tommy, God can create the world anyway he(she) wants! Okay, not the she, but she would have said "she" twenty years later.

Everybody should have gone to Catholic school in Chicago.

Ms. S. --

I strongly suspect that American Catholicism to the west of the lower Appalachian Mountains isn't exactly the same thing as American Catholicism on the East Coast.

Ann O.,

Judging from Sr. Vincent's reply to you, I'd say she was arguing that you and she were two different species, so it's really a question of taxonomy.

By the late 50s, there were still some holdouts, at least among elderly clergy, but I think the Church had largely, if warily, accepted evolution of the human body, though not the soul. You are probably right that even then nuns were not as troubled by interesting questions as some priests may still be. The secret, I think, is to frame the desired answer as a hypothetical: "I'm certainly not saying, Your Excellency, that the earth revolves around the sun. But see how that wholly fictitious model simplifies calculations."

Thus in the Eastside case, "Certainly, it would have been a grave matter if these two men had somehow contrived to marry each other. But it is the constant and unchangeable teaching of the Church that marriage is a union between one man and one woman. Therefore, by definition, the two gentlemen could not have entered into it. As for their living together, it is well to assume that they are engaged in a program of collaborative scholarship. Let us implore Mr. Z. to return to his duties at Eastside in all honor, and we shall let the holy mist of forgetfulness settle over this unhappy time."

A little good will and centuries of careful phrasing will solve almost any problem. We are all part of that tradition.

John @ 3:30 am, you really have a flair for this sort of thing! Did you say Jesuits trained you? Wow, I wonder if even they could have come up with a response so cool. :) 

"Correction, Jim M. You don't find Jesuits. Jesuits find you. :-)"

That's truer than you realize.  My father had 2 first cousins (I guess I should say that I had 2 second cousins) who were Jebbies and they greased the necessary skids for me to sail into a Jesuit university in the upper Midwest in spite of the fact that my less-than-desirable high school education lacked a few of the necessary underpinnings to ensure admission.

It was upon matriculation, and only then, that I realized how poorly I had been educated in high school/minor seminary, and how much of a struggle life was going to be until I graduated.  Critical thinking?  I hadn't a clue what that meant, but I could parrot back in good automoton fashion what I had been told.  The SJs painfully disabused me THAT practice in short order.

Yes, Rita, I owe a good deal to the Jesuits, though I fall well short of their hopes for those they teach. Yet I think they might say in all modesty that smoothing over difficulties with finely tailored words and arguments is not a practice that started with them, however much they have improved it.

Jim M.,

I was walking home from school with an eighth-grade classmate, and we were talking about high schools we might apply to. He mentioned a Jesuit high school that he had been told was very good. I had never heard of it, no adult had provided any counsel at that point, and Jesuits were only a rumor to me. Solely on the word of a twelve-year-old, I applied to it and was admitted.

Mysterious ways.

John Prior - I *love* stories like that.  Particularly only a day after the story of the first disciples being called was proclaimed at Sunday mass.

 

If there's a prize for comparing small things with great, Jim P., you've won it. :-) But maybe they are all cut from the same cloth.

are you obligated to fire Mr Zmuda?

 

JH:  I think the critical fact is that people also teach by how they behave.  You know, Do as I say, not as I do - doesnt really work.  

John P - they absolutely are.  Simple words, spoken at the right time, have the power to change our lives.  

The scene has now shifted to Massachusetts. No students demonstrating, so far:

BOSTON (AP) — A Roman Catholic school rescinded a job offer after finding out its prospective hire was married to another man, the applicant alleged in a complaint filed with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination on Thursday.

Matthew Barrett, 43, of Boston, said he landed his dream job when Fontbonne Academy in Milton hired him as food services director last July. He went through three interviews and gave notice at his other job the same day as the offer.

 

But the offer was rescinded two days later when the head of school realized Barrett had listed his spouse as his emergency contact.

 

‘‘She said the Catholic religion doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage, and that was her excuse. She said, ‘We cannot hire you,'’’ Barrett told The Boston Globe.

 

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/2014/01/30/gay-boston-man...

 

the school mission statement says:

 

Mission

Fontbonne Academy, sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston, is a Catholic, college preparatory high school for young women. Fontbonne Academy fosters Gospel values and educational excellence. This inclusive community embraces diversity in many forms. Through the values of respect, responsibility, reconciliation and reverence, Fontbonne Academy promotes growth in spirituality, scholarship, and leadership of young women in the changing world.

 

http://community.fontbonneacademy.org/mission_and_history

they say that graduates have a 100% acceptance rate into four-year colleges. 

 

Well, they are just being prudent. I'm pretty sure that Catholic school students normally turn first to the food services director for spiritual counsel. Besides, he might serve the girls a lesbian omelet. 

John Prior:  I will SHAMELESSLY transmit your comments immediately above far and wide.

 

Pages