Because of the interest in the speech, I'd like to reflect what really happened. There is an article in the Charlotte Observer that was a little soft about what went on. I was in the meeting and can tell you, it went a lot further. The Observer article is here:
The Vicar of Education, Father Arnsparger was also in attendance. A few Priests of the Diocese sat in front to show support. A few sat in the back of the meeting.I also saw a few of the Progressive Nuns in the Diocese also sitting in back.
The meeting started with statements which included an explanation by Father Kauth why he brought Sister to the school. In the Fall, Sister did two presentations: One for boys and Fathers and one for daughters and Mothers. These talks were NOT
well attended. Father did send out an e-mail to parents stating that he was disappointed that more parents didn't show up to the talk. Apparently some of the students and parents thought the talk was so educational and so well received by those who did attend, students and parents requested Father bring Sister to the school for an assembly.
As a side note, Father explained why he has a passion for this type of teaching. He made it very clear that when he was going through Seminary, it was the first time he had heard Theology of the Body and human sexuality talked about, so his reaction was, "Why has no one ever taught me this?". When he was a young Priest attached to St. Matthews, he would often teach Theology of the Body to small prayer groups. The reaction he received from most of the prayer groups was, "Why has no one ever taught me this?"
Father spoke with Sister and asked her to please come and give the same talk to the students as had been delivered with the parents. Sister was very reluctant to give the talk like this. Father believed that the children could handle this more maturely and was not worried.
The next part of the story is the most important. Sister did come and deliver the same talk with one exception- she inserted 15 minutes of material that was from a 2011 Catholic study (please forgive me for not knowing the exact name of this study, as I did not take notes). It was from this study that some of the statistics came that seemed to really upset the students. Father also mentioned that he was taken aback by the comments during the presentation. Father explicitly stated that he believes that the talk was inappropriate for this audience for two reasons: 1. The assembly was much too large for this type of presentation and 2. There was no time given for questions and answers between the students and the presenter. Otherwise, Father did maintain that the materials presented did adequately reflect the teachings of the church on human sexuality.
When asked in the Q&A why Father did not stop the Sister during the speech, Father stated two reasons, which I believe were valid: 1. He had never heard this part of Sister's talk before, and he was waiting for her to tie this back to the original talk, and 2. If you invite a guest to your house, you don't just rudely cut them off from expressing an idea.
Good things that came out of the assembly:
- Almost Universal agreement that the students and parents should be notified when talks like this are happening (my personal reason for this is that I might have liked to have heard what was said as well).
- Understanding as to why some kids felt marginalized by the talk (i.e. boatloads of statistics about the increased risks of living in a single parent household). Gut reaction is to say she was telling the truth, but rationally, a little sensitivity is required here. Teenagers do not have the connectivity between their emotion and logic centers of their brain to always process information correctly. In this case, the bombardment of statistics on the risks of single parenting left kids of single parents feeling like they were worthless. A the same time, we, the Catholic Church, try to promote women keeping their babies instead of aborting. I agree it made it look like we are talking out of both sides of our mouth.
- Commitment by Father Arnparger that materials will be acquired or developed that will help parents to be able to teach this information at home.
- Father apologized to the parents for anything and everything that was said that was hurtful. He committed that an apology would also be conveyed to the students.
Now for the bad things:
- Overwhelming cognitive dissonance from the opposing side. More than a few times, those preaching love and tolerance were screaming at Father Kauth at the top of their lungs in a rude and hateful manner. As I sat watching this, I could not help but think these are the people that would walk into a confessional on a given day and expect absolution from sin from this same Priest. At worst, Father made a mistake by not looking into what Sister would talk about. We all make mistakes. I have never seen a Priest treated in a manner such as this. One gentleman got up from the audience and said very calmly, "I was waiting for someone to yell, crucify him! " It was that bad.
- Overall loud, obnoxious, and rude behavior from the opposing side towards fellow Catholics who supported Father.
- A call to have Father removed from his position due to lack of confidence in his ability to be a Good Shepherd to the students.
I want to finish by saying that one of the teachers stood up and spoke from the heart. She stated that since Father Kauth has come to Charlotte Catholic High School, Mass attendance and attendance at adoration has skyrocketed. It would be a great shame to lose a Priest that has done such wonderful things for the school. I absolutely agree. Feel free to share this post with others so they can truly understand what went on last night.
Thank you, and please continue to Pray for Charlotte Catholic High School.