A Catholic school in Indiana fired an out teacher following threats from the archdiocese. The move came a day after another school elected to break with the archdiocese rather than terminate a teacher for being gay.
Cathedral High School on Sunday sent a letter to parents explaining its decision to cave to archdiocese demands. The letter stated the employment decision came in direct response to a decree by Archbishop Charles Thompson of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis.
“Archbishop Thompson made it clear that Cathedral’s continued employment of a teacher in a public, same-sex marriage would result in our forfeiting our Catholic identity due to our employment of an individual living in contradiction to Catholic teaching on marriage,” wrote Cathedral High Board Chair Matt Cohoat and President Rob Bridges.
“If this were to happen, Cathedral would lose the ability to celebrate the Sacraments as we have in the past 100 years with our students and community.”
The teacher was not named in the letter.
Cathedral High’s decision stands in stark contrast to that of Brebeuf Jesuit Prepatory School, which elected to break with the archdiocese rather than fire a teacher in a legal same-sex marriage. The school will no longer be allowed to call itself Catholic, even though for all intents and purposes it is.
Leaders at that Indiana school said they could not adhere to the demand.
“Brebeuf Jesuit has respectfully declined the Archdiocese’s insistence and directive that we dismiss a highly capable and qualified teacher due to the teacher being a spouse within a civilly-recognized same-sex marriage,” read a letter from school leaders to its community.
The Brebeuf Jesuit decision was acknowledged by Cathedral High leaders, but they said they could not follow the same path, largely because of their school's own longtime history as a Catholic institution.
“We respect the position of our brothers and sisters at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School as they also navigate this painful time,” the Cathedral High letter reads. “Brebeuf is sponsored by the Jesuits while Cathedral is merely affiliated with The Brothers of Holy Cross. Because Brebeuf is a specific ministry of the Jesuits, their canonical and nonprofit status is different than ours. Therefore, the two schools cannot function the same way if Cathedral were to receive a similar decree as Brebeuf.”
Many parents reacted negatively to the decision to fire a teacher in a same-sex marriage.
“We teach our children to always make the right decisions when it comes to how we treat one another, even when it is hard. Especially when it is hard,” wrote parent Melissa Snyder Mudd on the school’s Facebook page. “How are they supposed to reconcile this? We, as a family are devastated that Cathedral would show such cowardice… I am actually ASHAMED to have sent my kids here."
"Absolutely horrified," Mudd continued.
Some balked at the insinuation of legal consequences if a teacher in a relationship recognized by the state were not fired.
“Your claim that the school will lose its nonprofit status and section 501(c)(3) status if it did not fire this teacher is just plain false,” wrote Bill Giroux. “So long as the school is organized and operated for educational purposes it will continue to retain its 501(c)(3) status. It is clearly organized as a nonprofit corporation under Indiana law (under the name Cathedral Trustees Inc.)”