Minnesota Catholic School Fires Second Gay Teacher In a Year

For 18 years, Kristen Ostendorf worked as a teacher at Totino-Grace High School in Minnesota in relative silence: she didn’t tell anyone that she is gay. But after she finally came out to her colleagues last month, her work at the Catholic school immediately came to an end.

Kristen Ostendorf (Jim Walsh – MinnPost)

43-year-old Ostendorf told the MinnPost that during a workshop of 120 teachers in late August, she blurted out, “I’m gay, I’m in a relationship with a woman, and I’m happy.” The next day she was asked to resign, having broken the Catholic school’s code of conduct barring any public speech or actions that contradict the Church’s teachings. When she refused, she was promptly fired.

She says:

As far as I can surmise, the rule I broke was saying out loud that I am in a relationship with a woman. It is OK in the church to be gay, though one would really not say that aloud… Probably I’m never going to work in the Catholic Church again. That ship has probably sailed. I know what the rules are, and I know I broke them by speaking the eight words [I'm gay, in a relationship with a woman] I shouldn’t have said.

She says the topic came up because the teachers were discussing that year’s “school theme,” a yearly motto based on Catholic teachings that guides coursework for the year. This year’s theme is “Make Your Mark,” focused on doing the work one believes God has called them to do and contributing to the shared success of “one human family.” Ostendorf says she couldn’t keep quiet about the school’s hypocrisy when it came to inclusion and togetherness.

I was struck by the dissonance between the meaning of our themes and the events that had recently taken place. I found myself trying to buy time while I tried to figure out how I could encourage others to “make their mark” if I was willing to be part of a community where I was required to hide and compromise and deny who I am. How could I ask others to give themselves entirely to the work God calls them to when I couldn’t do this myself?

By “recent events,” she means another scenario similar to hers that occurred only months before at the same school. Ostendorf isn’t the only one to have been fired for being gay. Earlier this year, school president Bill Hudson was forced to resign after he was anonymously outed to the school’s corporate board and ultimately revealed that he had a male partner. This means Totino-Grace fired two openly gay employees on the basis of their sexuality in just one year.

Ostendorf told the MinnPost:

Bill’s departure under such disquieting circumstances was difficult for everyone in our school community, particularly for those of us who are gay or lesbian. Unfortunately, what we all feared only loosely — that we would be fired or asked to resign if we were “outed” — became too real to ignore. I was finding it very difficult to return to Totino-Grace, especially knowing that my job is to help students advocate for justice and be voices for the voiceless.

After the meeting where she came out to her colleagues, school officials sat down with Ostendorf to “discuss her options,” she says. However, she made it clear that she would not hide the truth of why she was being asked to leave.

We had a conversation about what the repercussions [of] not resigning would have on my future employment, and what Totino-Grace would be able to say to a future employer. And I just said, “I want to be very clear about this: I’m not embarrassed about what I said. I will not dance around it. I will tell every future employer precisely why I left. And if that’s a problem, I don’t want to work there. I can’t do it anymore.”

Of course, this isn’t the first time this has happened, and it certainly won’t be the last. The Catholic Church’s institutional intolerance is not a secret in any way, but it seems Ostendorf did a decent job of working around the Church’s infamous homophobia to accept and embrace her sexuality:

While the Catholic Church sort of confuses me, indeed I am made who I am. Period. That’s a given. That’s true. God made me, God made all of us, and I don’t think that I’m some abnormal person, or an aberration, or that there was something missing in the making part, or something extra in the making part. It’s hard though, still, to believe that and then to hear, “We respect everybody” and “Everybody is a child of God,” but “Don’t live your life, don’t love as you are made to love.”

Ostendorf is brave — there’s no doubt about that. It takes some serious guts to come out in such a public way, knowing the repercussions will likely be unfair and unjust. It takes something else entirely to be open about experiencing such brutal bigotry, and to share it with the world in the hopes of fighting the system.

I would be surprised if any Catholic schools seriously considered changing their policies after Ostendorf’s firing, but at the very least we can hope she’ll inspire other Catholic LGBT faculty and students to unapologetically be true to themselves. She clearly made a difference in her students’ lives as a teacher, particularly for those who may have been LGBT and too afraid to say so. As an accidental spokesperson for openly LGBT people in the Church, she’ll continue to have an influence, whether as a teacher or not.

About Camille Beredjick

Camille is a twentysomething working in the LGBT nonprofit industry. She runs an LGBT news blog at gaywrites.org.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    … she blurted out, “I’m gay, I’m in a relationship with a woman, and I’m
    happy.” The next day she was asked to resign, having broken the Catholic
    school’s code of conduct barring any public speech or actions that
    contradict the Church’s teachings.

    That’s right, being happy contradicts the teachings of the Holy Roman Catholic Church.

    • benanov

      “Catholics don’t celebrate their faith, they mourn it!” — from Dogma

      • monyNH

        Love that movie!

  • steve b

    Do these places have EOE statements on their employment applications? If so it could be used as a basis for a lawsuit.

    • Richard Tingley

      Wouldn’t that depend on the state or even county? I know where I live it is still legal to fire someone simply because they are gay.

    • Buckley

      Nope. My previous employer was an evangelical university…I had to sign a contract stating I would not do a whole list of things, including drinking alcohol and premarital sex (all broken in private). But they could have fired me if they found out I violated any of those things. The things we do to feed our kids.

  • h2ocean

    A few points:

    On the one hand, it is a private institution that can have its own rules. But on the other hand, it is becoming increasingly unacceptable (as it should be!) to discriminate based on sexual orientation. At some point, a private organization’s rules clash with the rights of individuals and basic decency (as I would say is the case here), and things have to change. The same people that would accept her being fired would reject someone at another organization being fired for being Black. I fail to see a difference.

    Certainly in places like Ontario where the Catholic School Board is funded by tax payers, they have much less ground to stand on (not that Totino-Grace High School has much ground to stand on), and are less entitled to impose their specific religious rules as opposed to secular ones.

    ” Earlier this year, school president Bill Hudson was forced to resign after he was anonymously outed to the school’s corporate board and ultimately revealed that he had a male partner” – that anonymous person is a coward.

    • monyNH

      Ideally, a move like this would persuade parents to pull their children–and tuition–from the school in protest. Since laws on tax-exemption and other protections for religious institutions aren’t likely to change, I fear that is the only way these schools will change their discriminative practices.

  • Alan E.

    You have her quote cut short. It started out with “I think you all know…” (Or somethig along those lines) Which makes it more apparent that this wasn’t a big secret in the school.

  • the moother

    I can just feeeeeel the Christian looooove…., it’s so warm and sooooo…, wait, what?

  • Janice Clanfield

    I still do not understand how any self respecting gay person would have anything to do with the Catholic church. It’s mystifying.

    • Beermepodcast

      “I still do not understand how any self respecting person would have anything to do with the Catholic church. It’s mystifying.”

      Fixed that for you.

    • WillBell

      People do a lot of things when they’re employed for it – she had a job for them, something that can be difficult to get.

    • Obazervazi

      *Shrug* People like to not starve.

      • Robster

        Starve? I’ve only been served a tiny bit of soft seemed uncooked wafery stuff and a wee sip of a rather nasty wine in any church I’ve been to. If they want to fix the starving problem, the menu must improve.

    • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

      I’m applying for teaching jobs right now. I’d rather not work for a church-related college or university but I’d rather work for one than not have a job. But my problem with them is not their religion but that they can use me being gay to fire me at any time. I wouldn’t like that hanging over my head although I know dozens of gay and lesbian teachers who do. Everything seems to be fine now but a new principal or dean might not see things that way. I worry to much to live that way.

  • badgerchild

    Cue the “my house my rules” apologists who think the school’s actions are bad, but not as bad as being their victim.

  • C Peterson

    So how are things working out with the new joker at the helm, supposedly more tolerant and compassionate? Same as with the old joker. Surprise, surprise.

  • islandbrewer

    Wait, from what I can tell, sexual orientation is a protected class for employment in the state of Minnesota. Any Minnesotans who can confirm or deny that?

    • SkyWizard

      I’m sure there’s an exception carved out for religious institutions…or maybe teachers at that school signed a contract spelling this out…

      • islandbrewer

        A lot of times religious institutions get around the protected class thing by having teachers sign a contract with “behavioral standards.” You can’t be fired for being gay, but you can be fired for talking about being gay, living in “sin,” or generally acting in a way that signals that the religious institution might be wrong.

  • A3Kr0n

    People who are still connected with the Catholic church, after so much evil by the church has been revealed, do not have my sympathy.

  • alconnolly

    One really annoying aspect of getting fired from a catholic institution, is that they have carved out a religious exemption to payin into unemployment meaning these people cannot colect while looking for other work after eighteen years! Really despicable.

  • DougI

    Sheesh, is there anyone the Catholic church doesn’t hate, apart from brutal dictators?

  • JET

    Constitutionally, this is a secular nation where we are all required to follow the laws on the books whether we agree with them or not. If it illegal for a business to fire someone who is gay, then this school has just broken the law. There should be no religious (or any other) privilege granted as an excuse to break the law. So simple.

    • M.S.

      Is what happened illegal, though, since it is a private religious-affiliated school? I am honestly asking, not being snarky.

      • JET

        What I’m saying is that everyone should be held to the same standard when it comes to the law. There should be no such thing as religious (or any other) privilege which in application puts some businesses above the law. If it is illegal in the state of Minnesota to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, then it is illegal for anyone doing business in the state of Minnesota to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.

        • M.S.

          I see; I misunderstood your point. Anyway my question seemed to get answered in another discussion below.

  • SkyWizard

    Why doesn’t this Catholic institution (along with ALL religious institutions) who insist upon firing gay people adhere to the Xtian principal of “those who have NOT sinned should cast the first stone”?

    • badgerchild

      Oh, they do. They just take it on a sin-by-sin basis. They aren’t gay (or don’t wish to admit to it), so they have not sinned and can therefore cast stones. Tidy, isn’t it? :)

  • Jeff

    Kind of an aside, but what’s the story on this “if you don’t quit, we’ll fire you” stuff that businesses sometimes trot out? In what way is that not firing someone?

    • islandbrewer

      Well, it does two things. First, it exempts the employer from being held to a list of legal requirements when they fire someone (eg, notice, severance, etc.). Second, it allows the employee to say they resigned their last job, instead of having to say they were fired.

      I expect the first one was the motivation in this case.

      • 3lemenope

        Usually the motivation is a bit of both. Businesses don’t do well if all their former employees, when they migrate to other businesses in the same industry, have nothing but horror stories about how they were fired. It also places a cost on breaching discretion; if the firing were for an inflammatory reason, the “please quit now” routine makes it so that both parties lose if they talk about why. If the employee is fired, on the other hand, they often have nothing to lose in explaining why if they feel they were wrongly fired. The “please quit now” saves face both for the business and for the employee.

        • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

          I once quit a job without notice. I was being harassed by a supervisor and finally had had enough. I had never done that before or since. I always give notice, even when leaving for the same reason. Even when I was temping I gave enough notice so they could find a suitable replacement. I worried that this would cause me problems. It never did. People are well aware of how bad office situations can be. I also suspect my reluctance to give the details worked in my favor since I was honoring the confidentiality policy and all that.

      • badgerchild

        In many jurisdictions it also prevents the company from being held liable for unemployment benefits. You don’t get paid them if you leave voluntarily, but you may if you are involuntarily separated. Being fired for cause (misconduct) can also be grounds for unemployment denial, so a bad annual review can be a signal that a case is being trumped up against you because you are too expensive to pay benefits to.

        • midnight rambler

          It’s also a way to get rid of people who conflict with supervisors but have good evaluations, without getting bogged down in a wrongful termination suit (the motivation to accept on the employee’s part being that they don’t have to say they were fired for cause on their next application or unemployment, as islandbrewer and badgerchild said).

          A friend of mine just had to deal with this; he was given that choice for, essentially, doing too much what the organization was supposed to be doing rather than what his bosses wanted. He refused to quit and eventually was fired, probably for “insubordination”.

    • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

      I worked for a company that was laying off it employees. A highway was going to be built where their production facilities were. about two hours before they laid us off, they offered each of us a job — a minimum wage job, (which was about a 1/3 of what we were making), that was sixty miles way and was literally shoveling dog shit. They knew that none of us were going to take that job, but they did it so they could say we quit and weren’t fired. So that they could try to deny us unemployment benefits.

      • Bitter Lizard

        God bless our job creators.

  • Bitter Lizard

    At least all those Catholics who were protected by the Church for raping children didn’t do anything really bad, like engaging in a consensual adult relationship.

    • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

      The big problem appears to be at a difference you neglected: between “behind closed doors” and “in public”.

  • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

    “The next day she was asked to resign, having broken the Catholic school’s code of conduct barring any public speech or actions that contradict the Church’s teachings.”

    She probably showed tolerance and acceptance of other peoples ideals and beliefs, which is totally against the fine history of the Catholic church.

    Notice how fast the shit-canned the gay teacher, and compare that to how hard they have tried to protect pedophiles in the priestly ranks.

  • Rationalist1

    It’s terrible that this woman was fired from a Catholic school for being gay but then the only “sins” that can get you fired from a Catholic schools are sexual sins. Many people have been fired from Catholic schools but I don’t know of one who was not fired for a sin other than related to sex. It’s shows the true extent of Catholic morality.

    • midnight rambler

      It makes me wonder how they deal with lay teachers at Catholic schools who abuse children – if they get the priestly privilege of being transferred to another school or at least allowed to quietly resign for “personal reasons” and take another teaching job, or if they get (justly) thrown under the bus.

  • Matt D

    So, it’s easy to fire a gay person, yet a priest molesting children gets shuffled elsewhere. Great priorities RCC.

    Well, at least we have more examples of them using the latest minorities in the spotlight as distractions from their lies, greed, and lack of ethics.

    • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

      Yes. It’s the public admission that gets gay people in trouble with the RCC. As long as they do it in secret, everything is okay. The problems with that are obvious, but widespread throughout Christendom.

  • Buckley

    There is a reason why, as an atheist, I am in the closet while I teach at this catholic school. I have a family to feed and I have to walk a very fine line. There are others here who feel as I do, but we keep it to ourselves. Maybe in the near future I can work in an open environment, but I doubt it – regardless if the place is run by the catholic church or not.

    • maddogdelta

      Get your certification (if you aren’t certified already) and get a job at a public school (They aren’t nearly as scary as the private school people keep telling you). Join the union, so that if some churchy type wants to fire you because they found out you are an atheist, then you will have the union on your side.

      • Buckley

        Thanks for the advice, however:
        1. I am certified
        2. I teach history – we are a dime a dozen
        3. Because we are a dime a dozen the public schools hire the kids right out of college because they are cheaper than me, because…
        4. I have close to 20 years teaching experience.

        I started in the Catholic schools because it was all I could get at the time, and public schools pigeon hole you once you teach in a certain place. I didn’t embrace my atheism until a few years ago, so in the past while I may not have agreed with the church positions, I was nominally a christian. But I appreciate the advice.

        I should also state that in Illinois and Indiana (among other places) you have to be certified to teach at the catholic schools. Very rarely (at least here) do they make an exception.

        • maddogdelta

          That well and truly sucks….I’m currently in Texas and even though it is a right to work for less state, there are enough teacher protection laws that the union reps know about that keep us “relatively” safe.

          But, the admins still know enough tricks to get me fired for other made up reasons that I still hide my atheism. When asked my religion, I always say “I was raised Catholic” which gets a nod that “I’m the right kind of person” and the subject is dropped.

          The last time I checked NY and TX don’t require certifications if you are teaching in a religious school, which is why pay at those schools absolutely sucks.

          Any chance you could take a physics test? :)

          • Buckley

            I’ve actually tooled around with the idea of being a math/science teacher…I was good at science, lousy at math. That was so long ago so perhaps I would be a better student now then I was back then.

  • joey_in_NC

    I’m wondering if people here thinks it was an injustice that Tiger Woods lost all those endorsements after all his extramarital affairs were revealed.
    Would you consider a *private* company pulling Tiger’s endorsements to be “intolerance” or “discrimination” or “brutal bigotry”, simply because Tiger was promiscuous?

    • badgerchild

      I would consider it catering to bigotry. They might not have cared, personally, what Tiger did on his off time, but he was bad for their public image because of public sexual prudery and public racial bigotry. It was corrupt and unjust, and the responsibility for the injustice is shared between the companies and the bigoted public.

      • joey_in_NC

        Fair enough.

        What about the hypothetical case of a PETA employee getting fired because he/she admitted to owning a closet-full of mink coats? Would that be bigotry?

        • DavidMHart

          Perhaps, but if so, less plausibly than here. A good case can be made that supporting the fur industry is unethical because of the suffering caused to the animals involved, whereas no one has ever articulated a plausible case that being in a loving same-sex relationship is unethical. Reasonable people can disagree about whether wearing fur ought to be conduct that an employer can censure; no one can claim that the Catholic Church is being reasonable in its opposition to same-sex relationships.

      • Ray

        Wait, what? Being opposed to adultery is “bigoted?” Please tell me I’m misinterpreting what you said.

        • badgerchild

          You may have noticed that Tiger Woods is black. (And Asian. And Native American.) You may have further noticed, if you have ever been exposed to a dictionary, that the word “bigotry” can also be used to describe hostility toward a group that holds a different opinion or standard from your own. Additionally, your usage of the word “adultery” is loaded. The phrase “extramarital affair” might be a little less emotionally charged. And lastly, yes, it is possibly to be bigoted toward people who have different sexual mores than you, especially where your bigotry is irrelevant to the context, which was product endorsement. If Tiger was paid to endorse marital fidelity, it could possibly have been relevant.

          • Ray

            Woods’ race is completely irrelevant. And if he had different “sexual mores,” maybe he should have, you know, told his wife. Adultery isn’t a sexual preference, it’s a breach of trust. To equate it with a consensual homosexual relationship is wrong, and as a member of a progressive community, you of all people should know that.

            • joey_in_NC

              Adultery isn’t a sexual preference, it’s a breach of trust.

              And purposely going against the Church’s teaching by having a gay partner is also a breach of trust (or precisely the school’s code of conduct).

              Simply being a homosexual is a sexual preference, but the school didn’t fire the teacher simply because of her sexual orientation.

        • joey_in_NC

          Wait, what? Being opposed to adultery is “bigoted?”

          From a certain perspective, yes. It is “bigotry” against adulterers.

    • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

      I do, actually, because I don’t care who Woods sleeps with. Other people do, although the display of watching the talking heads act outraged when you know most of them have done the same thing (although not as much but not for lack of trying).

    • TheG

      I think he should have lost the endorsement deal. But, I want to point out that only ignorant scum conflate a consensual relationship between two adults with someone who breaks a legally binding promise to another adult.

      I don’t have a problem if he wants to sleep with all of Jupiter, Florida. The moment it becomes a problem is when he does something crappy to someone he says cares about. If his wife said, “Sure, sleep with every third person on PGA Boulevard. And, hey, while you’re at it, there are some lonely housewives in Wellington, if you have the time,” that would be one thing. But he made a contractual promise and he broke it. And I find breaking that promise in that way particularly shitty.

      • joey_in_NC

        But, I want to point out that only ignorant scum conflate a consensual relationship between two adults with someone who breaks a legally binding promise to another adult.

        But this particular consensual relationship between two adults is breaking a legally binding promise.

        http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2013/09/12/education/how-totinograce-discovered-then-fired-gay-veteran-teacher

        http://www.archspm.org/_uls/resources/Justice_In_Employment-20070330.pdf

        So, there’s no “conflation” here. Sorry.

        • TheG

          Allow me to clarify my earlier point.

          If it turns out that Tiger’s wife was trying to tell me how to live my life and that I would be tortured for eternity if I didn’t listen to her, but she had also spent her life raping children and making everyone not her miserable around the world, I would say, “Tiger, what you did was pretty crappy and you’re going to lose a whole truckload of money. I don’t think you should’ve done it, but I understand.”

          It is “conflation” because you are trying to compare an immoral, but legal, contract with a moral and legal one.

          So, there’s a “conflation” here. Sorry.

          ETA: You are really just going to drop two articles here without explanation and expect everyone to just go, “Oh, he’s got links… one of them is NPR. He must be right.”? Or do you want to next time explain to everyone what you smugly mean?

          • joey_in_NC

            Or do you want to next time explain to everyone what you smugly mean?

            You actually need it pointed out to you? Alright. The teacher broke her contract of employment. Doesn’t matter if you, I, or anyone else thinks it’s immoral or not. So yes, I it is apt to compare the two situations, because both break legal contracts.

        • badgerchild

          But they allow people who break other promises to be public figures, no problem. Bankers who defraud customers. Sports figures who use steroids. Politicians on the take. Actresses who treat “little people” like scum. You name it. But when it’s “adultery” it’s suddenly the unforgivable sin and the perpetrator is too soiled to appear in public. What’s your take on why that is?

          • joey_in_NC

            But when it’s “adultery” it’s suddenly the unforgivable sin and the perpetrator is too soiled to appear in public.

            Who says? Tiger is still famous and earning billions. I don’t know what world you live in, but adultery really is no big deal in the world we live in today.

    • kaydenpat

      So would this teacher have lost her job if she had broken one of the 10 commandments? Do Catholic schools terminate employees for adultery? From what I know, Catholic institutions do not terminate priests for child abuse, but instead moves them to other parishes.

  • Harley Quinn

    So the message the Catholic Church wants to send is: “If you’re gay, that’s not okay; if you’re a kiddy-diddler…we’ll just look the other way.”

    And then they wonder why church attendance is down!

    • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

      Actually I think it was more: It’s okay to be gay, just keep it on the down low.

  • tasteless chap

    I think we’re missing the point. Yes, it’s awesome that she decided to be true to herself, and life a more truthful live, but she and the administrator before her were fired for simply being gay! What does this say to the young LGBT kids in that school: Sure, be gay…. but your ass is getting fired for simply being who you are! That’s a pretty screwed up message.

    And, how amazingly unfair this all is: I mean, these religious institutions can fire someone for being gay, but I as the owner of a gay organization cannot fire someone for being religious!

    Also, when I think back upon Ancient Rome, I lament that the Ancient Romans didn’t have more lions.

    • joey_in_NC

      but I as the owner of a gay organization cannot fire someone for being religious!

      What about someone who is vocally against all that your gay organization stands for. You are not allowed to fire this person (regardless of whether he/she is religious)? I highly doubt that.

      Also, when I think back upon Ancient Rome, I lament that the Ancient Romans didn’t have more lions.

      Nice. Not very often do I see one cheer about the past murder of Christians.

      • tasteless chap

        1) apparently you don’t understand snark.
        2) Would you like to volunteer to fire a religious person for being overly religious? Good luck with that. Lawsuits will abound!

        • joey_in_NC

          1) I understand snark. And I understand absolutely tasteless snark involving genocide. Try giving a snark comment about slavery or the Holocaust, and see how that flies. But as long as it’s about the murder of Christians, than it’s perfectly acceptable, right?

          2) If being “overly religious” is explicitly against the culture of the organization or what it stands for, then why not? Especially if it is spelled out explicitly in the contract or code of conduct that you agree to abide when you get hired.

          • tasteless chap

            Good luck on your journey through life, Joey_in_NC. I wish you luck because you appear to not have the tools one would expect one to have to get through this crazy life. So, again, good luck to you.

            • joey_in_NC

              When I made the “absolutely tasteless snark” comment, I did so not even being aware of your user name. I guess you picked a very appropriate user name, tasteless chap.

              BTW, I’m doing just fine through my journey through life, thank you very much. I tend to avoid snarky comments about the murder of a group of people. It has helped me get along just fine with people.

              • tasteless chap

                You seem overly sensitive about a supposed “genocide” to which you were not a witness, your parents were not witnesses, your great-great-great-great-great-great grand parents were not witnesses! No one alive walking this earth right now was a witness. So…. get over it!

                Me making a joke (however “tasteless”) is par for the course these days, when you have christianists (and other religious folks) advocating for the murder of, violence to, incarceration of, and marginalization of the LGBT community…..who are actively alive in a very current way (as opposed to the Christians that were supposedly lion food 2000 years ago)!

                So, if you’re offended or in some other way put off by my joke about early Romans needing more lions, then you should probably barricade yourself in your home, and not consume ANY media nor entertainment, because such jokes–like the one I made–abound. You cannot turn on any channel (except maybe PBS) and not hear things more offensive than that!

                Good day!

      • TheG

        Please.

        Everyone since Edward Gibbon have let their readers know that those stories were so far overblown as to not be trusted. I think “throwing a Christian to the lions” is a phrase that shows more about religious lies than it does about religious persecution and murder.

  • Brother Francis Rita, OSR

    You know, it may be that some of the school administrators had personal knowledge that these two fired people were gay. They may have even had personal knowledge that these two people had lovers or partners. As long as this personal knowledge–maybe “belief” is the more correct word–was not confirmed by the statements that the two employees eventually said in public, the Admin. wasn’t going to do anything about it. Without a public statement by the employee the school couldn’t take any action. They probably didn’t want to. They had two good educators. But once the homosexual employees spoke out the school had to act.

    The most recently fired employee, Ms. Ostendorf, like her colleague Mr. Hudson, were long term employees and were surely well aware of the conditions of their employment. They surely knew the teaching of the Church regarding homosexual acts. What most people, even many Catholics, I’ll bet, forget is that the Church teaches that any sexual acts outside of marriage—as the Church defines it–are immoral.

    Straight or gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgender sexual acts outside of Church sanctioned marriage is sin. It’s not about the fired employees not being straight that is the only issue for the school. The school would be obligated the fire a straight employee who was living with his/her lover or partner (whether or not they had some kind of civil, quasi-marriage arrangement).

    Just to be clear, the complete teaching of the Church about homosexuals is contained in three–only 3–paragraphs of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Three paragraphs out of a total of 2865 paragraphs! Paragraphs 2357, 2358, and 2359. The teaching about how the Church “feels” about homosexuals is in para. 2358: “They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” The shorthand is, “They are loved.” That doesn’t mean that their participation in homosexual acts is loved or tolerated.

    The CCC doesn’t doesn’t use the words straights, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, or the transgendered. Doesn’t matter, the Church calls her members to love everyone. Sexual orientation isn’t an issue that determines who is loved. Through it’s teaching of the Bible, and Sacred Tradition the Church insists that Christians must respond to all people with love.

    Most of us, almost all I’d guess, fail in that regard from time to time. Doesn’t mean we’re not supposed to make the effort every day all the time. We all sin in all kinds of ways every day. When we do we have to seek forgiveness from the one we sinned against, from the Church, and most of all from God. Our quest for forgiveness has to be coupled with contrition and making amends as best we can.

    When anyone, Christian or not, insults you or gives you that look or uses pejorative words or in anyway treats you unjustly I ask you to find mercy. “Forgive them, they know not what they do.” Those were the words of Jesus in the Book of Luke, chapter 23, verse 34. He was asking God the Father to be merciful to those who murdered him. Maybe you saying to the person insulting you that you forgive him/her, actually saying, “I forgive you” will be good for both of you. May God be merciful to us all.

    Just sayin’


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