A Catholic priest says he was fired as director of campus ministry at Seton Hall University in New Jersey for posting a "NO H8" picture on Facebook.
"I've been fired from SHU for posting a pic on FB supporting LGBT 'NO H8,'" Rev. Warren Hall tweeted Friday afternooo, the Asbury Park Press reports. "I'm sorry it was met with this response. I'll miss my work here." The tweet has now been deleted.
His dismissal coincides with the news that Seton Hall had recruited Derrick Gordon, the first openly gay Division I men's basketball player. Gordon is transferring from the University of Massachusetts.
Many students and alumni of the South Orange university reacted angrily to the news of Rev. Hall's dismissal. "He was a pillar of the Seton Hall community," said John Colantoni, an alumnus and sports booster, told the Press. "It's definitely a sad day for Seton Hall. It's a big loss for everybody." He said he would often see Hall at university sporting events. "He always came over, remembered you, remembered your stories. He's a guy who truly made a difference in kids' lives."
Student Ethan Kraft started a Change.org petition to have Hall reinstated, The Washington Post reports. Hall's firing, Kraft said in an email, "is neither in line with the teachings of Jesus Christ, nor the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis. Father Hall is a well-loved member of the Seton Hall community, and much of the student body is shocked and saddened by this decision."
While many Catholic colleges are run by religious orders, Seton Hall is run directly by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark, N.J. Jim Goodness, a spokesman for the archdiocese, confirmed that Hall's "term as director of campus ministry is ending" but declined to say why, reports NJ.com, a website for several New Jersey newspapers. He said Hall will have another assignment as a priest within the archdiocese.
Hall posted on Twitter that his supporters should not be angry but should use this situation to address LGBT issues at Catholic schools. Seton Hall has seen controversies over these issues before, having denied students permission to form a gay campus group in 1993 and 2003, the Asbury Park Press notes. And in 2010, Newark Archbishop John J. Myers, who is also president of Seton Hall's board of regents, objected to the university's offering of a seminar titled "The Politics of Gay Marriage."