Skip to comments.Homosexual Activism Meets Catholic Kindergarten "Joey has two daddies"
Posted on 12/02/2005 7:59:07 AM PST by NYer
With same-sex "marriage" issues very much in the public eye in recent years, "gay rights" campaigners have made a number of well-publicized strides in advancing their social agenda. Even the Catholic school system in many parts of the country has played host -- willingly in some places, unwittingly in others -- to homosexual activism. In every case, activists seek to manipulate both the Church and her parochial schools in an effort to effect the normalization of homosexual relations throughout society. Ostensibly, the Catholic Church, with her clear-cut teachings on the sinful nature of same-sex unions, ought to be one of the toughest customers. Nevertheless, recent history shows that that's hardly the case.
Over the past decade, activists have succeeded in getting some Catholic schools to adjust their curricula to include "gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered" ideology in classes -- even in math class! They have also pushed sensitivity workshops on Catholic faculty members and, among students, promoted -- usually with success -- homosexual support groups dubbed "Gay-Straight Alliances." Catholic high schools that have been queered by "gay" activists now survey students on their "homophobia," publish "gay" newspapers, have queer literature in their libraries, and permit same-sex couples to dance at their high school proms. At least one all-male Catholic prep school has a same-sex dance club.
One of the newest tactics is to sensitize the parents of Catholic school students by appealing to the twin dogmas of tolerance and compassion. Over the past year this scenario has played out at St. John the Baptist School in Costa Mesa, Calif. What makes this case particularly notable is that this Catholic grade school was taken over several years ago by the Norbertine Fathers of St. Michael's Abbey in Silverado, Calif., a religious order that boasts one of the finest reputations for orthodoxy on the West Coast.
In a nutshell, Mike Farina and Ron Morelos enrolled two of their adopted sons in the kindergarten class at St. John's parish school in September 2004. The two men live in a same-sex domestic partnership with a total of four legally adopted children. St. John parents became aware of the couple's living situation after Farina and Morelos "very visibly" began to show up at the school, often together arm-in-arm with their younger children, to pick up their 5-year-old kindergartners at the end of the school day. According to parents, both men wore traditional wedding rings, signifying that they viewed their partnership as a "marriage," even though such a status has not yet been legally accorded by the State of California. Parents also discovered that Farina was quoted in The New York Times (Jan. 12, 2004) about his same-sex living situation in a favorable article about "married" homosexual men who choose to be "stay-at-home dads." Farina, identified as a 40-year-old who left his job as an engineer, recounted his struggle of trying to get his adopted children to bond with him.
Questions about the same-sex couple's activism were raised when a St. John's parishioner accidentally received a newsletter in her mailbox at her home addressed to the same-sex couple. The newsletter, called "Family Tree," is the flagship publication of The Family Pride Coalition (FPC), whose slogan is "Equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender parents and their families." The FPC is clear about the intent of its organization: "It is vital that GLBT [Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered] parents and families play a leadership role in the next stage of our movement for justice. We must be visible and active in our neighborhoods, towns, schools, places of worship, city councils, and state legislatures. We need to use public forums, media attention, legislative hearings, lobby visits, and other opportunities to educate the general public and our elected representatives about the reality of our lives."
One of the stated purposes of the "gay-rights" activist group is to "assist parents who want to improve the atmosphere and curriculum at their children's school." In the Autumn 2003 edition of "Family Tree," the FPC announced the publication of Opening More Doors: LGBT Parents and Their Impact on School Policy, a guidebook that "represents the second phase of the Family Pride Coalition's educational advocacy efforts and is a primer for parents on effecting policy change to create safe and inclusive schools for their children." In between articles condemning the Vatican's stance against same-sex unions and news items trumpeting the advances of the "gay" agenda by institutions such as the American Bar Association and the California Supreme Court, the Farina-Morelos same-sex "family" appeared in a photograph in that edition of the newsletter, attending an FPC picnic in Palm Springs, Calif.
Rumors of the children's enrollment at the school were confirmed publicly in October 2004, when the St. John the Baptist family directory listed Farina and Morelos as "father" and "father" of the children. Jack Nixon, who had a son in the same kindergarten class, said he was especially disappointed to find that school and parish officials had given their public blessing of the situation by publishing the directory. More importantly, however, Nixon was concerned that the same-sex couple was going out of its way to be a visible presence at the school. "I object to children seeing this sort of thing," he said of the double fathers fetching their children together after school. "It's not a sexual issue so much as it is a political one," he emphasized. "It seems to me that these two had a political agenda to make [same-sex family arrangements] acceptable at a Catholic school."
One mother, who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retribution from the school, said her kindergartner was obviously getting a distinct message about the "diversity" of families: "He would come home and tell me that 'Joey has two daddies.'" She added that she was worried that Farina was making a "big impression" on her child. "Mike [Farina] was always surrounding the kids after school," she said, "and trying to be friends with them; but what really bothered me was that he would talk to my son in my presence but would never acknowledge me. That alarmed me." Jack Nixon agreed. He said his experience with Farina was similar. "In my book," he said, "that's an improper way of acting. It's a red-flag."
In addition to the couple attending Mass (including the reception of Holy Communion given by the pastor until too many complaints were lodged) and attending school functions together as a family, Morelos was given the job of managing the school's website and Farina was made a teacher's assistant to the kindergarten class, giving other parents the impression that the same-sex couple was accorded a kind of favored status in an effort to show everyone how tolerant and compassionate the school was. In other words, the presence of the same-sex couple was not only ratified by the school administration; it became a cause célèbre.
Rick Cabral, an Internet programmer and father of a first-grader at the school, says he offered his volunteer services to manage St. John's website on several occasions. Despite his expertise, Cabral was never taken up on his offer by school officials. "I was surprised when I found out who was given the task instead," he said. Similarly, other parents say they've known many mothers who've volunteered to serve as a teacher's assistant in the classroom for years without being offered the opportunity.
Some parents and other parishioners voiced their complaints about the overall situation to St. John's Pastor, Fr. Martin Benzoni. The priest's initial reply to their complaints was "it's a done deal," referring to the fact that the same-sex couple had been allowed to enroll its children in the parish school. Parents who approached St. John's longtime Principal, Sister Mary Vianney Ennis, say they received a stiffer reply: "If you are not happy at the school, I don't see why you would stay." In other words, she told the parents to take a hike. Further, the Irish-born Sister of Mercy nun defended her decision by claiming the homosexual couple "can't help it; they were born that way" -- one of the most specious stock lines repeated by those pushing the homosexualist agenda.
A few months later, in December 2004, a group of 18 concerned parents wrote a letter to Sr. Vianney detailing their concerns, saying, "We are particularly concerned that your decision is contrary to the teachings of the Church, and is counterproductive to the spiritual well-being and growth of the children involved, as well as their caregivers." They noted that according to Pope John Paul II's 2003 "Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons," Catholics have a duty to oppose same-sex domestic partnerships, and refrain in every way from co-operating with or supporting such a lifestyle. The parents wrote that they believed the approbation given the same-sex couple by the school administration was affirming the couple in their sin and condoning the adoption of children by a same-sex couple. They also pointed out that both the Church and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child condemn such adoptions in terms of "doing violence" to the adopted children in question.
After many of these same parents and others sent a letter to the Diocese of Orange's Bishop Tod Brown complaining about Sr. Vianney's stance and her defiant attitude in the matter, the school administration released a "mission statement" that was later sent out as a press release to media outlets that were calling the school for comment on the controversy. The mission statement read, in part:
[The administration of St. John the Baptist School] recognizes that our students come from a variety of family backgrounds, some of which may not fully conform to the moral teachings of the Catholic Church.
The personal family background of a student does not constitute an absolute obstacle to enrollment in the school. Nor does acceptance of any children for enrollment in the school condone or imply approval of any parental living situation which may be contrary to Church teaching. The primary purpose of St. John the Baptist School is the education of young people in order to assist them in their academic, personal and spiritual growth.
By January 2005 the situation at St. John the Baptist School was being reported on by local and national media, including a report on National Public Radio as well as the national wire services. The first major article appeared in the Los Angeles Times. When Fr. Benzoni defended his position by calling it orthodox -- "I firmly believe that this policy is in line with the teaching of the Catholic Church" -- he found himself supported by some strange bedfellows. The Rainbow Sash Coalition, a group of homosexual activists that agitates for "gay rights" specifically in the Catholic Church, praised Benzoni's quote and lauded Bishop Tod Brown for not intervening in the affair. Joe Murray, who identifies himself as the U.S. Convener of the Rainbow Sash Coalition, said, "We are saddened that fundamentalist Catholics would use innocent children to push their anti-gay agenda. The school officials of St. John the Baptist are rightfully championing the rights of gay parents to send their children to Catholic schools. Some Catholic bishops have found the backbone to speak out against this radical fundamentalist nonsense in the Catholic Church, and Bishop Brown joins those voices of reason."
For its part, the Family Pride Coalition sent out a "special Family Pride action alert" in response to the situation, writing: "The principal, pastor and superintendent of the school have taken a stand in support of inclusion and refused to discriminate against this [same-sex] family. As your national family organization, we encourage you to email the principal and pastor expressing your support and thanks for their stand for all families."
By and large, the mainstream media reports, even on National Public Radio, covering the St. John school controversy were surprisingly even-handed in their treatment of the parents who objected to the same-sex "family's" presence at the school. Ironically, however, a longtime neoconservative Catholic icon implied the concerned parents were intolerant bigots. In a press release responding to the initial Los Angeles Times article, William Donohue, President of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, weighed in on the issue in support of the school and the same-sex "family." Drawing from the text crafted by the Catholic League, Donohue was quoted in newspapers from coast to coast saying, "it makes no sense to single out kids for retribution whose parents are gay.... There is no fundamental tension between opposing gay marriage as a matter of public policy and accepting the children of gay parents in a Catholic school. Unfortunately, there are some who are so exercised about the former that it has clouded their vision about the latter."
The Catholic League's stated mission is to defend Catholics and the institutional Church against attacks of defamation and discrimination. It may be surmised then that Donohue felt the concerned parents at St. John the Baptist were defaming the Church by voicing their well-tempered and respectful objections to the decisions of St. John's school administration. The Catholic League press release got plenty more mileage than Donohue likely anticipated. The "gay media" erupted in jubilation at finding the neoconservative Catholic honcho on their side. First, the Rainbow Sash Coalition, in its own press release, paid Donohue the ultimate compliment by actually plagiarizing several sentences from the Catholic League statement. New York's Gay City News lauded Donohue, the "arch foe of gay rights advances," for standing up for the "right of two kindergarten boys, who have gay dads."
But St. John's parents say Donohue missed the point entirely. "The kids of this couple are pawns," said parent Jack Nixon. "The kids are being used by their parents as part of an agenda to make their family's lifestyle acceptable in the Church."
Fr. Benzoni also used the Catholic League statement to bolster his case by publishing Donohue's full press release in St. John's parish bulletin. Fernando Guido, a member of the parish council, saw Benzoni's use of the press release as pure propaganda. "I was heartbroken when I saw Bill Donohue's support of this," Guido said. "He was hasty in his comments. I've got to believe he didn't have all the facts."
Yet those who vilified the concerned parents more than anyone were school administrators. "We were made to look like un-Christian bigots," said Maria Criger, "and even my daughter started to be treated differently after I voiced my concern to Sr. Vianney."
According to a number of parents who spoke one-on-one with Sr. Vianney, the principal reacted strongly to their objections. Lisa Cabral, who later pulled her children out of the school, reported: "Sr. Vianney told me that the people who are 'condemning' the couple are 'evil.'" Cabral says she told the principal that she and her husband were concerned that instead of converting the same-sex couple, the couple would convert everyone else. "Ironically," she observed, "the 'evil' parents were the ones sticking up for Church teaching."
Sr. Vianney also publicly aired her irritation with the parents who were critical of her controversial decision. In school bulletins, the nun wrote such things as, "The big question is: Where can we put our hatred while we say our prayers?" and "As we live through these days of Advent let us remember that as Christians we follow a leader who teaches that inclusion of all peoples is worthy of the risks that it brings."
The rancor ensuing from the controversy reached the point where many parents and some teachers at the school began to accuse the concerned parents of being in defiance of basic Christian values by not "lovingly accepting" homosexual domestic partnerships. Lisa Tran, one of the parents who signed the letter of protest to Sr. Vianney, says she has had to endure verbal harassment from others at the parish who accuse her of making a public issue out of the situation. "Many parents and parishioners regard these men as heroes for adopting four children and enrolling them in a Catholic school," said Tran. "The administration and faculty has put so much emphasis on tolerance, acceptance and charity that they've forgotten how to admonish the sinner. The people who have opposed the situation at St. John's are the ones being persecuted."
Another concerned parent was sent an e-mail from a fellow school parent and parishioner that read in part: "The very Christian church that you are referring to teaches tolerance...something you and your 'following' don't seem to have. I'm sorry but the God I believe in would never support the verbal diarrhea that you are dishing out. Fortunately, your sad little contingent is in a minority. Why don't you just join the 'church' that you truly belong to -- the KKK and their ilk. I am proud to know dozens of homosexual men and women who are wonderful parents, friends, caregivers, taxpayers and human beings. What people do in the privacy of their bedrooms is none of your concern or business. Your kind makes it very hard for me to be tolerant, but tolerant I must be. You are using the Catholic church to cloak your hate. All of us see right through you. Honestly, it's just pure ignorance that creates this kind of hate and discrimination. You should be ashamed to actually call yourselves Christians. I think 'hate mongers' is a more accurate moniker."
A few months later, after a group of parishioners voiced its concerns in writing to the Vatican's Prefect for Catholic Education, Fr. Benzoni crafted a surprising change in policy. According to a May 6, 2005, school memo, "children adopted by a same-sex couple" may enroll at the school "on the condition that the same-sex couple agree not to present themselves as a couple at school functions." According to new language included in the 2005-2006 school handbook, "no one in the context of the St. John the Baptist school community is to give witness to a lifestyle that is in conflict with the morality of the Gospel."
The pastor's announcement was followed by two other surprises: St. John the Baptist Church would be getting a new pastor and Sr. Vianney's contract as school principal had not yet been renewed. The concerned parents who had been voicing their complaints to the Norbertine Fathers, among others, welcomed the changes. It appeared that the Norbertine Fathers were not happy with what had transpired at the parish school.
When a group of self-proclaimed "liberal Catholics" at the parish -- including many of the same people who had vilified the parents who protested the presence of the same-sex couple -- heard that Sr. Vianney's contract had not yet been renewed, they took immediate action by forming a "Save Sister" campaign. They inaugurated an informational website and churned out press releases about a protest vigil they planned at St. John's in June 2005. According to the group's press release, "priests from the conservative Norbertine order.... have not offered Sister Vianney a contract and have offered no explanation to the parents.... Parents can only surmise that Sister Vianney is being fired because she felt it was morally wrong and discriminatory to enforce a policy that St. John the Baptist pastor Father Martin Benzoni plans to implement next school year."
Sr. Vianney's group of supporters put on a dramatic protest for the media on the night of June 13 when they banged on the doors of the rectory, yelling "come out you cowards!" -- a reference to Fr. Benzoni and other Norbertine priests -- and "the Norbertines are evil!" A number of parents characterized the protest as "a mob scene."
The Norbertine Fathers were not unaffected by this high drama, which was broadcast on Los Angeles television news that night. Not long after, the Norbertines announced in a press release that Sr. Vianney's contract would be renewed, but that St. John's school would be run according to a "new administrative model" that includes both a principal and a rector in leadership positions. The Norbertines appointed Fr. Norbert Wood to the newly created position of Rector. While Sr. Vianney would continue to oversee day-to-day operations at the school, the new Rector's responsibility would be to oversee "areas more specific to the Catholic nature of the school." According to the press release, both Fr. Norbert and Sr. Vianney pledged fidelity to the teachings of the Church. "In collaboration with the Pastor and Rector of the school," Sr. Vianney stated, "I continue to be absolutely committed to upholding the teachings of the Church and their day-to-day implementation in the school."
This move by the Norbertines temporarily placated the two factions that had emerged at St. John the Baptist School. The parent group that had protested the presence of a same-sex couple at the school was satisfied with the new policy, at least as a compromise that recognized the authority of Church teaching in the matter; and the "liberal" parent group that had championed Sr. Vianney's cause was glad that the nun would continue to function as principal at the school. However, both factions harbored reservations. The "liberal" faction wondered if the new priest from the Norbertines, a religious order they already disdained as "ultraconservative," would crowd out Sr. Vianney. Some of the teachers in the "liberal" faction also voiced their displeasure at the new policy barring same-sex couples from appearing at school functions together. In the "conservative" camp, some wondered if the new Rector was just a nominal position created to diffuse the immediate situation.
But everyone found out very quickly what would happen. Fr. Norbert Wood, the new school Rector, issued a memo to those parents who had formally voiced their concern about the presence of a same-sex couple at the school. Fr. Norbert did not apologize for the way they had been vilified by the school administration and ostracized by others in the parish community. Instead, Fr. Norbert demanded a retraction and apology from each of the concerned parents. Further, according to the memo, if they did not comply with his directive they would not be permitted to enroll their children in the parish school for the 2005-2006 academic year.
Lisa Tran received her memo in person during a July 7, 2005, meeting with the new Rector. Fr. Norbert listed four major points he insisted be included in her apology to Sr. Vianney. She and the other parents had to apologize for "the harsh and condemnatory tone" and "exaggerations" of the letter which was sent to Sr. Vianney in December 2004, and agree that, in the future, they would leave it to the Pastor, Rector, and Principal to address any issues pertaining to the school.
Parents interviewed consistently reported that in personal meetings with Fr. Norbert, the Rector was not shy about calling them names such as "Pharisee" and "hypocrite." To a man, each was devastated by the way he was treated by a priest of the Norbertine order, who they assumed would be interested in healing the rift in the parish. None of the parents felt that their December 2004 letter was either exaggerated or harsh. And none believed that the language demanded by Fr. Norbert reflected their true feelings on the matter. While they say they were truly sorry that a controversy developed and that Sr. Vianney was offended, they felt it was fully within their rights to voice their legitimate concerns to the leaders of the Church.
In the end, some of the parents decided to write the apology in order that their children not suffer retribution for the controversy. Others, such as Maria Criger and Lisa Cabral, having lost all confidence in the school, decided to begin homeschooling their children.
"It's funny how St. John's really used that William Donohue statement to their advantage," observed Lisa Tran. "'You can't punish the children for the sins of their fathers' [Donohue said in effect]. I guess they only meant if the fathers are homosexual."
Another situation crying out for top-down action from Rome.
I wonder if any of them had the presence of mind to respond with calling him "apostate" and "heretic".
"Joe Murray, who identifies himself as the U.S. Convener of the Rainbow Sash Coalition..."
Should read: Covener. Out with the pagans!
So I think we should contact them, but I think we should also be very careful to recognize their subjectively good intentions, even if they are distorted. It's a delicate thing, but that opens the door to communication, I think. Something like this:
"I've been following the difficulties you've been experiencing a St. John the Baptist School concerning the inclusion of children whose parents are in scandalous living arrangements. I can fully appreciate your desire to serve the educational and spiritual needs of the children in question, while not acceding in the 'normalization' of objectively sinful situations.
I think you are to be applauded for your decision which was, as I understand it, to allow such children to be enrolled at St. John's, while requiring that the adoptive parents, who practice and advocate homosexuality, must not present themselves at school functions as a "couple."
In the Catholic classroom---- even in Kindergarten and the earliest grades ---- there are so many opportunities to emphasize God's plan for families based on the sacred union of a man and a woman for life. This is a crucial lesson which can be revisited again and again in a gentle and clear manner when teaching little children about a Creation-Centered Spirituality (Genesis), the Commandments, the Sacraments, the Virtues, the Beatitudes, and the Lives of the Saints.
All children, especially those who come from seriously disordered households, can benefit from this teaching, to which I am sure you and all your teachers are committed.
The parents who voiced strong concerns about the enrollment of these children have been wounded as much as anybody else in this situation, not least by being called "pharisees" and "hypocrites" -- stinging terms. Extend the hand of fellowship to them, too, since they, too, love the children and the Truth of the Faith.
OK, folks, here it is: how you can get in touch with these 'good fathers,' with your constructive suggestions on how to achieve Solomonic justice, avoid giving scandal, show sincere love for the children, and remain both Catholic and hetero-normative:
"Call the phone number to leave voice mail. Please keep in mind that most of us have no office or secretary, so messages left for us are usually not received until the evening or the following morning when we get a chance to go check such things."
St. Michaels Abbey
19292 El Toro Road
Silverado, CA 92676 - 9710
Voice-mail system: (949) 858 - 0222
FAX: (949) 858 - 4583
Rt. Rev. Eugene Joseph Hayes, Abbot
Abbey: (949) 858-0222 ext 216 San Pedro: (310) 521-1930 ext 111
V. Rev. Hugh C. Barbour, Prior
Abbey: (949) 858-0222 ext 222
Rev. Stephen Mark Boyle, Rector of Generalate House in Rome
Rome: 011 39  571 766 224
Abbey voice mail: (949) 858-0222 ext 223
Rev. Martin Benzoni (the pastor quoted in article)
St. John the Baptist rectory: (714) 540-2214 ext *814
Abbey voice mail: (949) 858-0222 ext 321
Rev. Norbert Jeffrey Wood (the "school Rector" quoted)
St. John the Baptist rectory: (714) 540-2214 ext *820
Abbey: (949) 858-0222 ext 291 (Room 204)
Doesn't that conflict with the Vatican??
They noted that according to Pope John Paul II's 2003 "Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons," Catholics have a duty to oppose same-sex domestic partnerships, and refrain in every way from co-operating with or supporting such a lifestyle.
Bill Donohue is opposed to the teaching of the Church and John Paul II's teachings. I know I will be criticized for criticizing him, but I am only doing what Donohue claims to do. The fact is, he is just like those he attacks. Even if he only opposed Church teaching on one issue, he should not be in the positions he is. I was a support of the Catholic League and have nothing against Donohue, except that he is fighting against Church teaching.
Whoa, thanks for the info.!
>>>>Doesn't that conflict with the Vatican??
>>yes, it does
Then can the Vatican or someone have the option of having their status as a Catholic School removed?
It's up to the local bishop
116. We have the duty, as Bishops, to be vigilant that the word of God is faithfully taught. My Brothers in the Episcopate, it is part of our pastoral ministry to see to it that this moral teaching is faithfully handed down and to have recourse to appropriate measures to ensure that the faithful are guarded from every doctrine and theory contrary to it. In carrying out this task we are all assisted by theologians; even so, theological opinions constitute neither the rule nor the norm of our teaching. Its authority is derived, by the assistance of the Holy Spirit and in communion cum Petro et sub Petro, from our fidelity to the Catholic faith which comes from the Apostles. As Bishops, we have the grave obligation to be personally vigilant that the "sound doctrine" (1 Tim 1:10) of faith and morals is taught in our Dioceses.
A particular responsibility is incumbent upon Bishops with regard to Catholic institutions. Whether these are agencies for the pastoral care of the family or for social work, or institutions dedicated to teaching or health care, Bishops can canonically erect and recognize these structures and delegate certain responsibilities to them. Nevertheless, Bishops are never relieved of their own personal obligations. It falls to them, in communion with the Holy See, both to grant the title "Catholic" to Church-related schools, universities, health-care facilities and counseling services, and, in cases of a serious failure to live up to that title, to take it away.
>>>>It falls to them, in communion with the Holy See, both to grant the title "Catholic" to Church-related schools, universities, health-care facilities and counseling services, and, in cases of a serious failure to live up to that title, to take it away.
>>>When Fr. Benzoni defended his position by calling it orthodox -- "I firmly believe that this policy is in line with the teaching of the Catholic Church" -- he found himself supported by some strange bedfellows. The Rainbow Sash Coalition, a group of homosexual activists that agitates for "gay rights" specifically in the Catholic Church, praised Benzoni's quote and lauded Bishop Tod Brown for not intervening in the affair.<<<<
Does the Bishop 'light in the loafers' Tod, answer to the Vatican? Or is he under his own authority?
Bishop Tod Brown should be knocked down.
I guess someone should write to the vatican.
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