Skip to comments.Catholics wrestle with teachings as gay employees dismissed
Posted on 08/09/2015 4:04:55 PM PDT by Mrs. Don-o
Pope Francis refined his vision for the church last week when he said long-spurned divorced and remarried Catholics should be welcomed with "open doors." And he has famously parsed centuries of thought on homosexuality into a five-word quip: "Who am I to judge?"
Yet the Archdiocese of Philadelphia opened its door only briefly when married gay teacher Margie Winters, trailed by supporters, arrived Monday with 23,000 petitions seeking reinstatement to her job at a Catholic elementary school.
"The school and the Sisters of Mercy allowed me to work there for eight years. Once the diocese was notified, something changed," said Winters, who was disappointed that a security guard, and not a church official, took her petitions at the chancery door.
Winters, 50, lost her job at Waldron Mercy Academy in June after a parent complained about her 2007 marriage to a woman. Her case highlights the shifting fault lines over gays in the church - and in church workplaces - just before the pope visits Philadelphia next month for the World Meeting of Families.
Jesuit-run Fordham University is standing by its theology chairman whose same-sex marriage made the New York Times wedding section this year, while at Seton Hall University, the archdiocese of Newark, N.J., recently reassigned the head chaplain after the priest denounced gay bullying and later came out as gay.
Around the country, more than 50 people have reported losing their jobs at Catholic institutions since 2010 over their sexual orientation or identity, according to New Ways Ministries, an advocacy group for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Catholics based in Mount Ranier, Maryland.
Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, wading into the issue amid Winters' case, stressed that Catholic schools are responsible for "teaching and witnessing the Catholic faith in a manner true to Catholic belief," referring to the church's condemnation of homosexual activity. He said the Mercy officials showed "character and common sense" for sticking to church teachings.
"A great number of people like to pick apart the remarks of the Holy Father and manipulate them to drive their own agendas," his spokesman, Ken Gavin, said Thursday in response to questions about the pope's latest comments. "Keeping the doors open does not mean that basic church teachings will be changed. ... The Holy Father has not given any signals that teaching on the meaning and sanctity of marriage will be changing."
Winters and her wife, Andrea Vettori, clinical director at a health center for the homeless, met in their mid-30s when they entered the Sisters of Mercy as candidates for religious life. Instead, they felt called to build a life with each other, and married in Massachusetts in May 2007.
Winters was hired that August as director of religious education, leading service and outreach efforts at the school in suburban Merion Station. On the advice of her principal, she was open about her marriage with colleagues, but kept mum around students and families. Many came to see her as the heart of the school.
"She was really able to instill in the kids that helping those less fortunate is something you do every day. It wasn't just something she would pull together on a holiday," said parent Jerry Dever, a Philadelphia lawyer with two children at Waldron.
Waldron is run by the Mercy sisters, independent of the archdiocese, but the local church has the power to pull the "Catholic identity" of any institution seen to stray from church teaching. Gavin said that no such threat was made to Waldron.
In a pained July 3 letter to parents that noted Winters' "amazing contribution" to the school community, principal Nell Stetser said the nuns must recognize "the authority of the archbishop of Philadelphia, especially in the teaching of religion."
"My hope is the pain we experience today adds to the urgency of engaging in an open and honest discussion about this and other divisive issues at the intersection of our society and our church," she wrote.
With same-sex marriage now legal across the U.S., more gays employed in church settings are likely to get married and live openly. That brings more potential conflict for their employers, who can claim a religious exemption from anti-discrimination laws. Winters hopes to sneak in a word with Pope Francis on his visit and push for a moratorium on LGBT firings.
"The pattern that I see is that schools themselves, many of them, have been supportive of their gay and lesbian employees, even those who have chosen to marry. The problem always arises when something becomes public, or a parent complains," said Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministries. "It's bringing out the worst in the leadership, and it's bringing out the best in the people."
Thank you, Waldron Mercy, for not re-hiring her. Thank you, Archbishop Chaput, very, very much.
Homosexuality is evil. It will try to take over every church if people are not vigilant.
It doesn’t sound like they are wrestling. The teacher should have been fired the day the school learned that she was gay. Same thing if she were a hetero fornicator.
No journalistic bias there at all, no sirree.
If the Pope were Catholic there would be no wrestling going on.
Aren't you supposed to be the Pope? Kind of like the Supreme Court of the Catholic Church? Man up and do your job or let somebody do it who will!
Doesn't being the "Vicar of Christ" cover this?
Getting rid of people who openly disregard the teachings of the Catholic Church, is a good thing. Women living with women are friends. To mock marriage by formalizing such a relationship is clearly against church teaching.
Why could they not just live together as "friends?" Anything other than that is unrepentant.
I'm sure they did report that, but they've actually lost their jobs because of their sexual behavior and/or public advocacy.
Which Catholics are struggling? The Pelosi-bots?
I’m thankful for the vigilant. Apparently the Waldron Mercy admin. knew this from the git-go, but it took an alert parent to blow the whistle.
I'm grateful they did the right thing, quite possibly with pressure from Abp. Chaput. The school is not part of the Diocesan system but rather a [private school run by the Sisters of Mercy --- and thus does not "exactly" "directly" answer to the Abp, although he does have the ultimate authority (which Bishops too rarely use) and if he wanted to, he could revoke their right to call themselves "Catholic," and if push really came to shove, he could oust the Sisters of Mercy.
That would be considered the nuke level of Bishop authority.
Reason number lost-count that we wouldn’t use the Catholic schools even if they were free and conveniently located.
But Chaput knew this would happen, and didn't flinch.
Abp. Chaput definitely deserves a dozen cookies and a kitten.
It seems as if there’s something about schools that attracts activist homosexuals. You may remember the brief turmoil here in Charlotte a couple of years ago, when one of the Nashville Dominican sisters gave a presentation at the diocesan high school that was insufficiently sensitive toward homosexuality.
I wouldn’t say that it caused those who dislike Bishop Jugis to dislike him any more than they already did. Maybe Abp. Chaput makes the same observation and just shrugs at the wailing and gnashing.
I'm not denying a Pope can go a long ways toward setting the tone. In really flagrant cases he can put depose an errant bishop or put him in charge of some little sinecure in Vatican City (like I think it was JP2 did to the former Archbishop Milingo of Lusaka.)
But ordinarily, the bishop's The Man. The Vatican doesn't have surveillance and enforcement systems all around the globe to get into every disputed case.
The photo verifies it again —
Undeniable Truth of Life Number 24: “Feminism was established so as to permit unattractive women easier access to the mainstream.”
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