"Steadfast in the Teaching of the Church": Ohio Bishop Defends Gay Teacher's Firing

In this interview with a Columbus newspaper, the Bishop of Columbus in Ohio explains his position when it comes to the dismissal of a lesbian teacher from one of his Catholic schools. The controversy, he also reveals, has led to threats against the Church, the diocese and the school.
www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2013/04/30/bishop-responds-watterson-teacher.html

I’m not Catholic myself, I profess no religion to be honest, but I have occasionally attended mass at St. Joseph Cathedral (where Bishop Campbell presides). In the past I have considered inquiring about RCIA but there is always one thing that forces me to reconsider; I’m gay. It is not the doctrine of the Church that concerns me; I find it rather balanced and reasonable.

What weighs on my mind is how people such as myself are treated and addressed by lay Catholics and clerics alike. It is not the message that I necessarily oppose, but the way in which it is delivered. There is frequently an air of contempt and callousness. I have always believed that it is not the written or spoken word which really defines a religion, but the deeds of those who profess it. Indeed, does not the Epistle of St. James say:

“Do you see that by works a man is justified; and not by faith only?”

And the second Epistle of Saint Paul To The Corinthians:

“For we must all be manifested before the judgement seat of Christ, that every one may receive the proper things of the body, according as he hath done, whether good or evil.”

I believe it is these words that inspire 2358 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

*“The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.”
*
I do not see those words reflected in the treatment of my community and I think one of the greatest examples is in the recent decision of the Diocese to terminate Carla Hale. I do not see how that decision edifies the Catholic Church or, given the above, can be justified by its doctrine. If Carla Hale had been teaching students concepts contrary to the Catholic faith then this would be a justified action, but I have not seen or heard evidence that she had been. In fact, I have seen and heard evidence to the contrary.

I think this decision runs contrary to the call to treat gay men and women with “respect, dignity, and sensitivity” and to avoid “unjust discrimination.” It is such actions which keep me, and I believe many other gay men and women away from the Catholic Church. I hope that Bishop Campbell takes more time to reflect and changes his mind.

Greetings. I would suggest giving RCIA a try, if not for the sake of curiosity. There are no obligations to join at any point during the process. You could get a feel for people. Truthfully? When I became Catholic, it was the nicest bunch of people I ever met. There are bad apples in every group, don’t get me wrong. But your identifying as gay shouldn’t open you to any kind of negative attention, anymore than anywhere else you might go? I think you should go for it. I don’t believe you would regret it :thumbsup:

EmperorNapoleon,
Reading the article the issue is that she publicly listed another woman as her partner. Openly declaring an active homosexual relationship is at odds with Church teaching that those with SSA are to live in chastity. I assume after 19 years teaching at a Catholic high school and having to agree to morality standards she was aware of church teaching on any sexual relationship outside of marriage. To be honest if there is any unmarried teacher living in a non-chaste relationship I think they should be canned regardless of their orientation. If you cannot obide by morality clauses then don’t work there. I would expect if I worked at a Baptist school and knew they taught against drinking alcohol, that if I was arrested for public drunkenness that I might be dismissed.

EN,

It would not be an issue of unjust discrimination.

  1. “Sexual orientation” does not constitute a quality comparable to race, ethnic background, etc. in respect to non-discrimination. Unlike these, homosexual orientation is an objective disorder (cf. Letter, no. 3) and evokes moral concern.
  1. There are areas in which it is not unjust discrimination to take sexual orientation into account, for example, in the placement of children for adoption or foster care, in employment of teachers or athletic coaches, and in military recruitment.

vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19920724_homosexual-persons_en.html

Consider the quote commonly attributed to St. Francis “Preach the Gospel at all times, if necessary, use words”. This is far more of a paraphrase if anything, as it refers to a time where he just went through a town performing good acts, and referred to it later as preaching the Gospel. But the point is true.

This teacher DID, in fact, teach against the Church, by her actions. Actions are what we, and the Church can judge, not people. At it was her actions that brought about her dismissal.

So no, the Church does not treat your community (or anyone else), with anything but love and compassion. However, it does reject sinful acts, and yet offers Mercy for all those who repent of wrongful acts.

All this teacher had to do was repent and make every effort to leave the sinful aspects of her life behind. That would truly be a preaching of the Gospel, but she chose not to, and thus the Church had a right and Duty to protect her children from false teaching.

How and/or why would anyone know you have homosexual desires?

But your identifying as gay shouldn’t open you to any kind of negative attention, anymore than anywhere else you might go?

Emperor is correct to a point, and the emphasis I chose is on shouldn’t because I think most know good and well that a majority of Catholics are hardly aware of the CCC , I would not be surprised at the least of a homosexual individual being treated poorly by fellow catholics, for the simple fact people tend to be more close minded and uninformed than they would like to admit. It should not stop Emperor though from attending RCIA to gather information about the RCC/ Christ/ and the Catholic faith in general, and growing closer to Christ, if one were to base the Catholic faith on parishes alone, I would not be surprised at all about people not wanting to convert to the faith. Rarely are parishoners reverent during Mass, let alone fully agree with all of the laws/rules/dogma/doctrine/whatever of the RCC, or bother to try and understand it.

That shouldn’t be why one converts though or does not.

To be honest if there is any unmarried teacher living in a non-chaste relationship I think they should be canned regardless of their orientation.

Exactly and excellent point, the rule has to go both ways or else it is discrimination, if the Bishop would emphasis that point alone and not let others push the fact out that the individual is a homosexual the entire story would be dead in the water.

I just want to say that I am Catholic, not because of the people in it, but because I believe the Church is the Truth. Plain in simple. Priest can/will sin, we could get a bad Pope, I could be standing next to a rapist at my Church :eek:. In the end, I understand I am not there because of them, I am there because of God.

I have no idea what it is like to be homosexual, I don’t know what desires and struggles they go through - until they start marching in the street and lobbying for their ‘‘cause’’ in schools and on TV and denouncing Christians and claiming children dont need a mother and a father and changing the definition marriage…

Then they’ve got my attention. :eek:

You see, I never “caught them in the very act”. I never went looking for homosexual behaviour between consenting adults in the privacy of their home. I never dragged them before Jesus and asked what the law demands and I never picked up a stone because, as sinners, the person we should be throwing stones at is ourselves.

But I did see Jesus drawing or writing something in the sand. And there IS a line in the sand. And it’s put there by God. And the line in the sand for me is the word sin.
Jesus said go and SIN NO MORE.

So when someone gets all in my face and claims their adultery or their homosexuality or their lying, stealing, murdering, etc. is not a sin, I am going to point them to John 8:11

I dont decide what is a sin. He does.

And if any non-theists here want to see arrogant, smug, self-righteous Christians with rocks in their hands get totally slapped down and put in their place,
go watch Judah Smith’s “Where are your accusers - not in City Church” talk about John 8.

There was no unjust discrimination in the teacher’s case.
She, and nobody, have any “right” to teach in the school if they cannot abide by the contract she signed.

She was not fired for being homosexual.
She was fired for openly living in an immoral relationship. Any other teacher, whether homosexual or heterosexual, living in an immoral lifestyle would also have been violating the moral clause of their contracts, and would have been released.

She was fired for openly living in an immoral relationship. Any other teacher, whether homosexual or heterosexual, living in an immoral lifestyle would also have been violating the moral clause of their contracts, and would have been released.

even though that statement is correct, it has a stipulation to it, in that who can find any article of a heterosexual man or woman for being terminated from the same position for this exact statement. ? Probably none, and in turn that does not mean that it does not happen, it just means those heterosexuals were not reported or caught.

The bishop did the right thing for the right reasons in the end.

Dear EN, I think you have accurately stated the situation. There certainly is “an air of contempt and callousness”. Sadly, it can even be evidenced by some posts in CAF, but every group has its bad apples, as was mentioned earlier. I like to point out something in the CCC quote above; that is, “They **must ** be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.” Note the use of the word “must”. It is not followed by a caveat that “you don’t have to treat gays in this fashion if you don’t want to”. And where in "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” is there an escape clause?

The fact that Ms. Hale had a lesbian partner was made public not by the obit, but by someone who anonymously ratted her out to the diocese. A real class act. As Mr. Tootle noted, “neither the teacher contract nor the diocesan policy specifically bound Hale, a Methodist, to abide by church tenets or to practice Catholicism”. Legally, that says it all.

Bishop Campbell said that “morality clauses such as the one in Hale’s contract have been common in Catholic dioceses for years because of the belief that employees who represent the church or teach in a church organization should respect its moral tenets and other teachings”. I do not see any evidence that Ms. Hale did not respect the tenets of the Church. She certainly didn’t protest outside the school with a sandwich board reading something like “Catholic Church Hates Gays”. She did not advocate that homosexuality be practiced by her students. I would like to see the text of the “morals clause” that the Bishop references. You say “If you cannot obide by morality clauses then don’t work there”. Frankly, if the diocese wanted Ms. Hale to abandon her Methodist faith, renounce her lesbianism and embrace all dogma and teachings of Catholicism, they shouldn’t have hired her in the first place, or am I stating the obvious?

Finally, you note that “To be honest if there is any unmarried teacher living in a non-chaste relationship I think they should be canned regardless of their orientation.” You might want to can the straight person, too, but Catholicism believes that homosexual sex is much worse than heterosexual sex outside of marriage, i.e., a bigger sin.

In what way did Ms. Hale “teach” against the Church? If she did “teach” lesbianism to students, then yes, that **would ** be cause for dismissal since that would be disrespecting her employer. But I don’t think a woman’s first name in an obit qualifies for receiving the same penalty.

In the statement “So no, the Church does not treat etc.”, it appears that you are using your previous paragraph to prove that the Church **does ** exhibit love and compassion. I do not think that this was successfully done. I think that, in this situation, the Church does not only hate the “sin” , it also hates the “sinner”.

She taught AGAINST the Church in the same way that St. Francis ‘preached the Gospel’ that day, by quiet actions.

If we claim, as Catholics do, that St. Francis giving food to some beggar in an isolated street alley is a proclamation of the Gospel, then her entering into a relationship with a lover outside of marriage (hetero or homosexual) is an affront to the Gospel.

:thumbsup:

From that article:

“We do this in an atmosphere of care, of calm consideration, but yet out of the realization that at particular times we have to make particular decisions,” he said. “And they are difficult sometimes, but they do flow from what we believe, who we are and how we are to live.”

When Catholics read Church documents we ought to understand them in terms of authenticity and not in terms of post modern America. We throw around words like compassion and unjust discrimination but do we understand them as the Church does or as our consciences do today by being formed in a relativistic culture?

If we go back just a few years such a termination would not have raised any concerns at all. In fact, the concern would be for the children in the school. It would rightfully be seen as a scandal and terribly illicit. Fast forward today and can we say we are so much more moral? Do we form our consciences through Church teaching or through pop culture?

Here is a like to her mother’s obituary (Jeanne E Roe). Look under survivors and you will see:
Survived by her son, Charles (Alexis) Roe of Jamestown, KY; daughter, Carla (Julie) Hale of Powell;The names in parenthesis are her children’s spouses/partners. This obituary is in a public newspaper and lists Ms. Hale with a female partner. The fact that this was brought to the attention of the diocese by a parent is irrelevant as the information was already made publicly available.

Morality clauses actually have been common in the entertainment industry and some custody agreements for several years. They normally will have a list of forbidden actions or more general statements such as “will not engage in actions that cause disrepute or scandal to my employer.” The conduct or actions do not have to be related to performance of their duties (i.e. singing, playing baseball, etc). Any action at anytime that causes scandal are grounds for termination.

In this case she was not require to become Catholic but I suspect the morality clause of her contract said that she would not act in a way contrary to Catholic teaching. I can assure you living with someone you are not married to and listing them as your partner/spouse is acting in a way contrary to Church teaching. If I were not married and moved in with a girlfriend and called her my partner I would be violating Church teaching.

For instance a couple years ago there was a teacher/coach in Wisconsin who did not have his contract renewed when he spent the night at his girlfriend’s apartment. I believe this was the same area where a few years before a female teacher was dismissed after having Invitro Fertilization treatments. Both were actions clearly taught against by the Church.

The issue is if you have a clause in a contract and fail to act on those remedies then you can lose the ability to act on that clause in the future. If they disregarded the morality clause once it was found she was in violation, then it is possible that any direct action against Church teachings would be non-enforceable. In addition how is the school supposed to clearly teach that sex outside of marriage is a sin and then give a wink and a nod to Ms. Hale simply because she is a lesbian?

No, you are not stating the obvious, but rather nonsense. She was not fired for being Methodist, a lesbian or failure to believe Catholic dogma. She was released for living in a relationship that included fornication which is clearly acting against Catholic moral teaching. This is no different then the coach I mentioned above.

I’m not sure where you get the bolded statement above. :shrug: Homosexuality and fornication are two separate things. Having SSA is not a sin. Having sex outside of marriage is; period.

Ratted? Is that what we call it now? Someone with a tender conscience informed the proper authority of a grave violation. Children deserve better than to be exposed to this especially in a Catholic school. Up until very recently such a scandal would have been viewed a terrible thing. Now we have more concern for illicit conduct than for the ramifications on others souls in particular children in their formative years.

I think others have done a fine job of explaining to you why this happened, why it is in line with Church teaching and how something like this has happened to heterosexuals as well (you just don’t hear about it in the MSM).

I would like to add, however, that I am sorry that you feel the way you do. Although I will fight in favor of Church doctrine on the matter, I do agree that certain folks do come across with an air of contempt and callousness. I wouldn’t be surprised if I came across that way somewhere along the line. I think more often than not however most folks are just very direct and forceful. They have found themselves needing to defend Church teaching over and over again …even to other Catholics. It can be exhausting and people are more likely to lose their cool when that happens.

Please don’t make decisions based on our bad behavior. We all sin. Make your decisions to attend RCIA (and perhaps become Catholic! :thumbsup:) based on the authority and the teachings of the Catholic Church. I think you are already one step ahead of many others…you already find the Church’s teaching on homosexuality and gay marriage “balanced”. What a breath of fresh air you are…and what a blessing you would be to our Church.

Please reconsider!

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