Update: Catholic School Discrimination

By:  Jack Kenny
05/14/2010
       

Sean O'Malley and admittance of children with lesbian parnets into catholic schoolThe archdiocese of Boston will require Catholic schools to admit students with same-sex parents under a school policy still being formulated, a spokesman for the diocese said. The decision followed protests by gay and lesbian advocacy groups and others over reports that a Catholic school in Hingham had turned away a third-grade student because his parents are avowed lesbians.

“The Archdiocese does not prohibit children of same sex parents from attending Catholic schools,” Mary Grassa O’Neil, Secretary for Education and Superintendent of Catholic Schools said in a statement released Thursday.  “We will work in the coming weeks to develop a policy to eliminate any misunderstandings in the future.”  Terry Donilon, spokesman for the archdiocese, told the Associated Press that when the archdiocese establishes a policy, local pastors are expected to follow it. 

The issue got national attention after the AP ran a story on Wednesday quoting an unidentified woman who said her eight-year-old son had been enrolled as third grader this fall at Saint Paul School in Hingham, but was later denied admission after the pastor of the parish questioned her about her relationship with her female partner. The pastor, Rev, James Rafferty, and the school’s principal, Cynthia Duggan, have declined press requests for interviews and referred all questions to the archdiocese. O’Neill said she has contacted the woman and offered to assist her in placing the child at another Catholic school.

The Catholic Foundation, chaired by Cardinal Sean O'Malley, called St. Paul's decision "at odds with our values as a foundation, the intentions of our donors, and ultimately with Gospel teaching." The foundation, which raises money for Catholic education, said it would not fund any school with a similar exclusionary policy. Michael Reardon, the foundation's executive director, said the foundation did not give money to Saint Paul.

The school’s decision sparked protests from homosexual advocacy groups and other individuals and organizations that claimed the school had unfairly discriminated against the child. The Washington-based Catholics United said Thursday it had collected 2,500 signatures on a petition asking Cardinal O'Malley to ensure the archdiocese's schools would allow all children access to a Catholic education.

The woman, who chose to remain anonymous to shield the child from publicity, said:  "There are many different non-traditional families that fall under the umbrella of the Catholic Church and I guess we assumed we would fall under one of those."

But in what sense is hers a family? She and her partner are not married, according to the AP story, though same-sex marriage has been legal in Massachusetts since 2004. The article refers matter-of-factly to “one of the boy’s mothers.” One of the boy’s mothers? Fewer than 20 years ago much of the nation was shocked to learn that elementary school students in city schools in New York were being introduced to homosexual and lesbian relationships with books like Heather Has Two Mommies and Daddy’s Roommate, Frank. Are we all now supposed to accept the idea that a child can have more than one mother? Obviously, only one of the women can be the child’s biological mother. Is the boy legally adopted by one or both of these women? The news reports and editorials on the story don’t say.

The women are free to establish for themselves whatever living arrangements they wish and to describe it as any kind of “non-traditional family” they like. But must all bow to their decisions? Must every institution, both public and private, accept it as normal? Should the Catholic Church, which holds that marriage is a sacramental covenant among man and a woman and God, now regard any living arrangement between two women or two men as a moral equivalent? That, it seems, is implicit in the demand that the Catholic school accept the decision of these two women, as parents, to enroll their child in the school.

Many critics of the school’s decision have noted that the Catholic Church also forbids remarriage for divorced couples and sexual relationships outside marriage. It seems unlikely that Saint Paul or other Catholic schools conduct investigations to ensure that none of the student’s parents is, to use the quant phrase, “living in sin.” But in this case, they didn’t have to. The women were quite open about their relationship, even to the point of attending an open house at the school, presumably as the boy’s parents. “We weren’t hiding” the woman told the Associated Press. One might admire their honesty, but the boldness arises from their belief that they have nothing to hide — that there is nothing wrong with two women living together in sexual intimacy and raising a child in a home environment that at least implies that “Gay is just as good as straight.” They are free to believe that and, sad to say, teach it to their child. But it is a belief that runs counter to natural law and the moral principles a Catholic school is supposed to teach and defend. 

What, one might wonder, will be the next surrender by Cardinal O’Malley and the Archdiocese of Boston? If a homosexual boy wants to bring a male partner to a school dance, must a Catholic school regard that as normal and acceptable behavior? If an openly lesbian woman is denied a teaching position at Saint Paul, will Ms. O’Neill help her find one at another Catholic school? The followers of Christ are supposed to stand firm against the clever and distorted doctrines of a wicked and unbelieving generation. But many who have been ordained as leaders in that spiritual warfare, have chosen instead to be conscientious objectors. Standing firm for the faith has been banned in Boston.

Jack Kenny is a freelance writer living in New Hampshire. Send him an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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