By Michael O'Loughlin
Originally published on Advocate.com May 30 2014 5:00 AM ET
A group of teachers is reaching out to Pope Francis, asking for a papal audience to discuss the one thing all members of the group have in common: being fired from their Catholic-school jobs for being LGBT or supporting an LGBT family member.
According to a press release from the Human Rights Campaign, the teachers sent a letter to the pope’s representative in Washington, D.C., Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, saying they “strongly believe that a Catholic education prepares our young people to be responsible citizens, men and women for others. For each and every one of us, our employment was far more than just a job – it was a reflection of core Catholic values.”
However, the letter goes on, they would like to see the Catholic Church change its stance on openly gay employees or those who disagree with Catholic teaching on issues of sexuality.
“We respectfully submit that it is time for our Church to reflect on how it treats lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Catholics, and the family members who embrace them. Love thy neighbor as thyself is at the foundation of the gospel and the Church’s social teaching, and yet we are not treated as neighbors,” the letter states.
Several teachers and administrators have been dismissed from their positions at Catholic schools over the past several months because of they openly identify as LGBT.
In Cincinnati, teachers were asked to sign contracts that prohibited public support for same-sex marriage and other LGBT causes. Recently, a 45-year teaching veteran made headlines for refusing to sign the contract. Some Catholic school systems are classifying teachers as ministers in an attempt to circumvent antidiscrimination laws.
Saying they feel “scorned” by the church, the teachers write, “Too many LGBT Catholics and their loved ones feel abandoned by the Catholic Church, unwelcome and judged by Church regulations that simply do not align with the Catholic values that we strive to live our lives by. This must end. While Catholics are among the most welcoming and embracing of all people of faith, the hierarchy is doing an incredible amount of damage by emotionlessly wielding discriminatory policies against faithful Catholics.”
HRC officials said the Vatican should “ensure that no more young people are deprived of a good education and no more teachers are denied employment because of who they are or who they love.”
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