Erin Manning Makes a Good Point

When a Catholic school punishes a teacher for being pregnant out of wedlock by firing her, three things are communicated:

1) The Church doesn’t really believe all that mercy stuff;
2) The Church doesn’t really believe in supporting women in crisis pregnancies and they might as well abort for all we care;
3) What matters is not the sin of contraception but the sin of getting caught.

A little mercy never hurt anybody. The school should give her the job back. There are ways of dealing with such matters without totally destroying the woman’s livelihood.

By the way, Erin has written a novel! Her first children’s science fiction book for ages 8-12. For more information or for links to purchase, please click here.

  • Suburbanbanshee

    The problem in this case is that a) the teacher was in an inappropriate relationship during the hiring process for a job teaching the littlest kids at the school and didn’t see anything wrong with that, b) the teacher still doesn’t see anything inappropriate with being an unwed parochial schoolteacher who was having sex with someone she didn’t get married to, and c) she wanted an paid full-time office job at the school when that would either displace one of the few full-time office workers or force the school to create a full-time office job where there isn’t one. Because apparently the school is made out of money, when actually it’s made out of perpetual scrabbling to raise funds.

    Oh, and d) she signed an agreement not to be doing anything inappropriate or causing scandal while knowing she was signing falsely.

  • kara

    The problem is aslo that she didn’t abort and didn’t contracept, so her what she did was public in a way it will never be for a male employee at any level. Hence, the lawsuit, which apparently the diocese and school would rather pay for.

    • carlamariee

      At my Catholic high school in the 80′s, pregnant students were immediately expelled. The fathers of their children stayed on and in a few cases fathered other children with different classmates. The “Scarlet Letter” lived out in real life. I hope this lady can keep her job and be able to support her new little one.

  • Beadgirl

    I am 100% confident that that teacher was not the only employee of the school committing a sin; she just had the misfortune of her sin becoming visible.

    She offered to take a behind the scenes role so that she would not be confusing or giving scandal to the children, an acknowledgement that she understood the school’s concerns, and that she was trying to do right by both her own children and the school’s children.

    Even if the school decided that they could no longer keep her because she wasn’t following the rules (and do they target all rule-breakers, or just the pregnant ones?), there were other ways of handling the matter that would not have left her jobless and without health insurance while pregnant with twins. At the very least, they could have kept her on their health insurance until she found another job. Yes, it costs more money. So do all the Catholic homes and charities designed to help women in precisely this scenario — unexpectedly pregnant and without a husband to help.Especially since this is one of the longstanding arguments people use in favor of abortion.

    • Rick

      I work at an agency that tried to keep an employee on insurance after her resignation because she was going to need the insurance. The insurance company would not allow it. It would be a great solution from the Catholic perspective–but not the perspective of an insurance company.

      • http://janalynmarie.blogspot.com Beadgirl

        Yet another flaw with employer-based insurance. But at least the company tried to do the right thing.

  • Kaw912

    I am of two minds about this issue. I certainly sympathise with the situation that the unwed Catholic school teacher who finds herself pregnant faces and I agree that she should be shown compassion. I understand that by depriving this woman of her income and health insurance that the unborn baby is being punished as well. However, as a mother of three children, two of whom attend a Catholic parish elementary school, I can say that the number one reason I choose to pay a lot of money in Catholic school tuition rather than send my children to the local public school, which from what I understand is academically a very good school, is to ensure that my children are educated in a Catholic environment where they will be exposed to the liturgy and receive Catholic moral formation.

    If the teachers and staff at the school are not going to live in accordance with the church’s teachings in an outwardly visible way, I would say I might as well save my money and send my kids to public school. With regard to those who ask whether teachers at Catholic schools should have to prove that they are not contracepting (if married), I will reiterate what others have said on this issue that if a teacher is using contraception, unless he or she announces it to the class (in which case he or she should be fired), the children aren’t going to know, whereas children will notice if their unmarried teacher is pregnant.

    • Beadgirl

      “whereas children will notice if their unmarried teacher is pregnant”

      Right, which is why the woman offered to stop teaching and switch to a job where the children would not see her, so that they need never know she was pregnant. The school officials said they’d consider that, and then a few hours later fired her. And again, even if they did not want her employed any more, there were kinder ways to do that, including putting her on leave.

    • Kristen inDallas

      A big part of Catholic teaching is the idea of origional sin. That we are all tempted by sin, that most of us at some point succumb to it, and that we repent and ask Christ’s forgiveness and try to move forward in a way that serves him. This situation could be an excelent teachable opportunity if it were handled appropriately. As parents our job is to teach kids about sin and overcoming it in the face of sin, not try to shelter them from it, pretending it doesn’t exist. Kids will notice their teacher is pregnant. They also notice when one of their classmates doesn’t have a daddy. Should we stop admitting into Catholic schools children of single mothers who are trying to turn their lives around, because it might “give scandal?” Gasp! I know, how about we kick out all the kids who have ever told a lie, and fire all the teachers caught eating a turkey sandwich on Friday. But even then our kids still may be exposed to sin, probably better to just shut Catholic schools down completely and homeschool right?

  • kara

    Also, I went to a Catholic school. One of the teachers had a kid in my class with no daddy. I never thought twice about it til now.

  • bob cratchit

    This is a discussion that begs to be had. This is a situation anyone can even find in the home. As in what if YOU, (homeschooling, conservative, catholic parent of 8), learn your own daughter or son is going to be a mother/father! What are you going to do? How do you handle this with the younger siblings? Especially if you thought you did everything right? Do you throw them out on the street, (because certainly, abortion is not an option and you did get one point across – no contraception)? Most of the blogging parents I see have little kids to young teens. My wife and I have 3 adults over 18 and 3 younger ones and we have been dealing with these and other issues for the last several years. We decided against anything rash like throwing anyone out and to be compassionate, as we believe Jesus would. We haven’t yet figured out how to prevent scandal to the younger ones only to lesson it by showing them how your choices and decisions affect you and others. Beyond this we are still treading in charted waters.

    • Kaw912

      I realize that these things happen in families and that it’s impossible to completely shield children from these scandals in our current society. In our own family my husband’s sister has gotten divorced and then went on to have a baby out of wedlock. My own sister is in the process of divorcing her husband. My children have been exposed to these things, and my oldest who is about to turn 10 definitely knows what’s going on. I guess what I’m really pondering here is the purpose of Catholic education. It seems to me that if we are to have the attitude of “well, you can’t protect your kids from these things so don’t even try” then Catholic schools become irrelevant, unless they happen to be better than the public schools in your area academically.

  • bob cratchit

    I guess that should be “lessen” up there…sorry

  • Sus

    Sounds like this school is advertising for abortion providers.

    • Scott W.

      Well, yes. It sucks from a PR-perspective. But sometimes acting like you really believe this stuff means taking the the PR hits. I agree that the Church should find something that demonstrates mercy and support, but giving the job back or this “behind the scenes” thing don’t strike me as real solutions.

      • Sus

        I wasn’t talking from a PR perspective. I’m talking about the children in the school. They’ll remember this and when some find themselves in the same position, they’ll abort.

        • Scott W.

          Ok. I don’t see it going down that way. I’ve known that I was going to be let go from a job before. I never had a notion to do something evil to avoid it.

          • Sus

            The job has nothing to do with it. The children will remember the scandal and will remember that the teacher disappeared. If they find themselves in the same situation down the road, why would they expect mercy and understanding when they saw with their own eyes that a person didn’t get that?

            I don’t hide sin and scandalous situations from my children. They can take it. These situations shouldn’t be hidden away. They should be used as learning experiences.

            • Scott W.

              The job has nothing to do with it.

              The lawsuit she is pursuing indicates otherwise.

  • http://geeklady.wordpress.com GeekLady

    Since its the moral dimension that’s in question here, then I have to ask just how far the moral responsibility of the school extends?
    Many schools (here in TX at least) renew teaching contracts yearly. If this teacher’s pregnancy had spanned two school years, would the school be morally responsible for renewing her contract to provide her with health insurance, even though she breached her previous contract?

  • Marion (Mael Muire)

    “What if YOU, (homeschooling, conservative, catholic parent of 8), learn your own daughter or son is going to be a mother/father! What are you going to do? How do you handle this with the younger siblings?”

    Up until around mid-twentieth century, young men and women who were sexually active together often had an understanding that marriage together was to be in their future. This understanding was sometimes more lively on the girl’s part, for it was generally held that only the most abandoned young women would be willing to have serial or casual sexual affairs. The intelligence that a baby was on the way often only settled the couple’s nebulous intentions, and expedited what had been plans to marry at an indeterminate future date. It was considered shameful for a boy whose girlfriend had a baby on the way not to “do the right thing” by marrying her. If the young man showed a reluctance, then the “shotgun wedding” was not unheard of.

    If the girl’s family was unwilling or unable to pressure her to marry, then the girl was sometimes quietly aborted (illegally) or was quietly gotten out of town to the home of relatives without children, or sent away to a home for unwed mothers until the child was born. Everything was as hushed up as possible, but outsiders often guessed what had happened when the young girl vanished, only to returned to her family home some months later. Much gossip about her would ensue, but as long as nothing could be verified, it would die down sooner or later.

    The babies were most often adopted out to homes with a mother and a father to raise them; almost never was it expected that a minor was going to be able to raise a child by herself (i.e., with government assistance – AFDC, food stamps, subsidized housing, etc.). It was believed that a proper home for a child was one with a mother and a father to care for him or her.

    Illegitimacy was a real social stigma, and it was thought best to keep the origins of children of unwed mothers as secret as possible. Adoption into the home of married couple removed that stigma, whereas for the child who remained with his or her unwed mother and her family of origin, the stigma was very much in place.

  • Marion (Mael Muire)

    A teacher or administrator at a Catholic school who communicates by his or her words or actions that he or she does not live according to the laws of God, should not be around students or work on school property. An unmarried male teacher who communicates to any student that he is sexually active, should be fired on the spot. A married male teacher who communicates to any student that he and his wife use artificial contraception, should be fired on the spot. A male teacher who communicates to any student that abortion may sometimes be a way out of a difficult situation, should be fired on the spot. A male teacher who communicates to students that the homeless and the poor might make themselves well off tomorrow, if they put their minds to it, or that immigrants (in general) and people of color should not welcomed here in the United States, should be fired on the spot. So, too, with female teachers and administrators.

    A Catholic school with an unmarried teacher who becomes pregnant should make some quick arrangements with the local archdiocese. The teacher should be offered a choice, effective immediately: a severance package including excellent insurance benefits for one year, or an office job downtown at the archdiocesan headquarters or in hospital administration – away from students and young people.

    • Richard M

      Well said, Marion.

      Your solution here is probably the best balance. Show real compassion, but also ensure that a bad example is not being set for students.

  • N.

    This is one of those areas where it’s going to take some time to reel back the general practices/attitudes among Catholics of generations past.

    Yes — the prevailing message to young Catholics — young people generally — was that you better not get caught — you better not get pregnant. Young women were shuttled off to homes and their babies were either out and out taken away from them without proper consent, or they were manipulated and coerced into “giving” up their children for adoption (much like the pro-life community describes how young women are now manipulated and coerced into having abortions). The onus was always on the girl, the boys were rarely affected for long — oh, sure, a sharp talking to and a warning to stay away from the little temptress, but no devastating, life-altering consequences.

    The response to young women faced with a crisis pregnancy was as unChristlike as possible, and abortion became the natural solution to that response. Unfortunately, there are still Catholic parents who spout the same rhetoric (if you get pregnant, we’ll throw you out, or if you get pregnant, we’ll kill you, or if you get pregnant, you’d better give that baby away or we’ll never speak to you again, etc.) So many grandparents who never got to know their own grandchildren because it was so much more important to put up a good show for the neighbors…sad.

  • http://redcardigan.blogspot.com/ Erin Manning

    Thanks for this, Mark, and for including the book link! :) One reason I am writing science fiction for the 8-12 crowd is because the YA stuff out there (aimed at slightly older kids, but often trickling down to younger ones) usually does contain inappropriate sexual content, and I’m determined that my books won’t. So it’s not that I don’t understand parental concerns about scandal etc. in my discussion of this teacher’s situation.

    Really, though, I think that firing the teacher (at which point she also lost her health insurance for herself and her unborn twins) was the wrong move. On my blog people argued that the woman “deserved” public shame for her sin, and that troubles me greatly, because few serious sins come with automatic public recognition and shame the way that pregnancy will mark a woman (but only a woman) who may have fornicated (and I add “may have” because she also may have been raped; imagine people scandalized by an unwed teen who are then reduced to humiliation when she courageously tells the story of her rape and her decision to bear the child who has resulted!).

    If we all deserve to be shamed for each of our serious sins, then I think the Church would have found a way by now to require, say, penitents to wear placards announcing our serious sins for a set period of time; that she does not, but instead reminds us that it is a sin for us to reveal someone *else’s* serious sin without a sufficient reason, makes me think that the idea that women who fornicate deserve the public shame of unwed pregnancy is anything but a Catholic one.

    • c matt

      I understand the concern with the unfairness of it all (pregnancy shows on a woman, but not a man), but there is not much that can be done about the biological reality. I think Marion’s solution would have been pretty good, but i don’t know how much “pull” a parochial school has with setting up a job in an Diocesan office or with a Catholic hospital, or if the insurance would have carried over (they are likely separate entities, therefore the employer would change requiring re-enrollment).

  • Tamara Horsburgh

    WELL said, Erin! I completely agree.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00805469860229478026 Irksome1

    I think the school in question may have been put in a difficult situation. Practical realities, like the school’s budget for teacher salaries, haven’t been adequately addressed in the rush to condemn the school. There simply isn’t enough information to know whether this woman was offered anything else outside if the school.

    That said, I find it disturbing the ease with which some seem to be praying to be made instruments of God’s wrath. The most ludicrous argument offered is the one that seeks to preserve children from scandal. It seems to me that throwing a pregnant woman into destitution as the “right and proper” thing to do is no less scandalous.

    • Richard M

      I think, as Marion said above, you can certainly justify removing her from her teaching job – but that there is a moral obligation to make sure that she at least has insurance coverage through the pregnancy, if it’s not possible to arrange a job at the school or the archdiocese in a non-public position.

      But they didn’t do that here, it seems.

  • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

    I’m with the school on this one.

    I know all the arguments – we’ve argued about similar situations before. But I can’t get to where the right choice is to condone manifest grave sin and scandal around children because there are hostages involved. And the offer to take a different job for which she was not hired, so the school now has to figure out how to carry an extra salary for someone they don’t need and didn’t hire and go hire another teacher, is just capitulation to extortion because there are hostages involved.

    Giving an unmarried pregnant woman a make-work job is not appropriate and likely not financially feasible; referring her to a crisis pregnancy center is the right response. Would the school’s detractors suggest that the diocese hire all the unmarried pregnant women in the diocese?

    If there happened to be a different, low profile, back office job for which she was qualified, having her interview for that position – if she was interested and had a good attitude about it – would be a mercy. Giving her even just an interview as a matter of entitlement, because she lost the job for which she was hired by breaking her contract, isn’t just wrong. It infantilizes her.

    Nope. On a cursory read, unless there are facts of which I am unaware, I think the school chose wisely, mercifully, and correctly. Furthermore, it treated her like an adult.

    • Beadgirl

      ” Would the school’s detractors suggest that the diocese hire all the unmarried pregnant women in the diocese?”

      Of course not, no one has suggested anything like that; the school had a relationship with this particular woman. Moreover, it is one thing to refuse to hire a pregnant woman, and another entirely to fire an already employed woman.

      “I think the school chose wisely, mercifully, and correctly. ”

      I understand why you think the school was wise and correct, but how was it merciful? To whom?

      • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

        how was it merciful? To whom?

        To the teacher who voluntarily quit her job by violating her contract. The first and foremost requirement of mercy is to treat every human being with the full dignity of a human being. Instead it is suggested that treating her as as something less than a moral agent responsible for her own choices is “mercy”. That reflects a disordered understanding of mercy, in my view.

        • N.

          Every human being would include her unborn child. The lovely thing about God is He’s radically unfair. He treats those who deserve it the least with tremendous mercy, even knowing that they’re probably going to screw up again and probably sooner rather than later.

          Be careful what you wish for. If all of us got what we deserved, this planet would be a vast wasteland without a single living creature on it. Not one single one of us deserves Christ’s sacrifice, yet we got it anyway.

          • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

            You’ve made a mistake. Nowhere did I say anything about everyone getting what they deserved, etc.

            I just suggested that a concept of “mercy” which requires us to infantilize this woman rather than treating her as a responsible moral agent is not real mercy.

            The alternative is that mercy does require us to infantilize her and treat her as less than a full human being, a responsible moral agent. I don’t think that is consistent with human dignity; and if it isn’t consistent with human dignity it can’t be genuine mercy.

            Furthermore, I haven’t seen anywhere where she herself threatened to abort her babies if she wasn’t re-hired after she quit by violating her contract. In fact her actual choice was to have her children.

            People may be inferring that maybe other women, unnamed women, will abort their babies if they aren’t hired by the diocese, perhaps. In that case they infantilize these unnamed women.

            Perhaps it is a pure statistical contention. But if it is a statistical contention that some people will sin unless we make sinning as consequence-free as possible, well, sure. Some people may sin because they like taking risks too, or for all sorts of reasons — the statistical distribution of who sins in what ways will definitely change as the visible consequences of various sins change, to be sure. You can’t try to manage people into morally good behavior by managing away the consequences of sin though. It could also be argued that Catholic schoolteachers are less likely to fornicate if they see that fornicating has consequences.

            But in any case once we’ve gotten into lies, damn lies, and statistics, we aren’t really talking about this specific case anymore, are we? We are talking about infantilizing this particular woman (who didn’t abort her children) so that we don’t ‘scare off’ other fornicators or something.

            So we are talking about scandal and its effects, not mercy in a particular case. And I would suggest that scandal and its effects favor what the school did here: at the very least it is just as plausible as the counterpoint, that the school eliminating the consequences of sin and contract breach would have some kind of good remote effect on people who read the news about it.

            • N.

              I thought we were talking about being the better person, being kind and going the extra mile even though it would be technically correct to show her the door. Stupid me.

              Goodie for you. You get to be technically “right”. Whoopee. Go buy yourself a little plastic trophy to go with your little plastic god. You know — the one you created in your image.

            • N.

              And I wasn’t presuming she would abort her child. I was saying her child would be impacted by any decision made, and that child’s dignity and well-being had to be taken into consideration as well.

              But, like I said. Yay you. Big man. Got to kick the pregnant lady to the curb, all so you could show off how right and correct you are.

              Oh wait…pride is a sin…oopsies! Maybe we should show up at your house and spray paint “dirty prideful sinner” all over it, eh, because it’s only right and just to make sure you feel the full effect of your douche-baggery.

              • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

                N:
                Oh wait…pride is a sin…oopsies! Maybe we should show up at your house and spray paint “dirty prideful sinner” all over it, eh, because it’s only right and just to make sure you feel the full effect of your douche-baggery.

                Aww. Now you are flirting with me. How sweet.

                • N.

                  Hardly. You’re disgusting.

                • Mark Shea

                  Is this the part where you command me and I obey, Svengali? :)

                  • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

                    Cluck like a chicken, Mark! You must bow to my pernicious influence! Remember, we never disagree, ever!

                    • ED

                      ["Svengali"...??? "cluck like a chicken"...???]

                      Hmm-m… seems like quite an interesting and unusual relationship.

                      Something you boys care to talk about?

                      It might be good therapy?

                      Don’t be shy now…

                    • Mark Shea

                      Bawwwwk!

        • http://janalynmarie.blogspot.com Beadgirl

          Well, wait a minute, Zippy. If I understand you correctly, trying to find another job within the school for the woman or keeping up her health insurance or otherwise trying to help her is infantilizing her. But what if, now jobless and insuranceless, she turns to a Catholic charity (or a friend, or a family member) for help with bills or diapers or health care or whatever — is that also infantilizing her by minimizing the consequences of her own moral choices to have sex and not abort a resulting pregnancy? What would you say is the difference?

          I’d also like to point out that for the school to help her find a way to keep her job is minimizing the consequences of her actions, but by far the biggest consequence — becoming a single mother of twins — will stay with her for the rest of her life. Even with the job her life is going to be a lot harder now. And then, of course, there is the issue that in this case, the consequences of her moral actions affect not only her but two innocent children, which for me is enough justification for minimization. And finally, I don’t think there is anything wrong, at least in the abstract, of minimizing some consequences of sin. I believe that is the point of mercy, and forgiveness, and charity.

          • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

            Beadgirl:
            If I understand you correctly, trying to find another job within the school for the woman or keeping up her health insurance or otherwise trying to help her is infantilizing her.

            No. What I actually said was this:
            If there happened to be a different, low profile, back office job for which she was qualified, having her interview for that position – if she was interested and had a good attitude about it – would be a mercy.

            It would be ridiculous to propose that every possible way of helping her is treating her with disrespect. There are plenty of ways to help her without infantilizing her. I suggested referring her to a crisis pregnancy center, for example, though you seem to have missed that since you commented as though that might go against what I am saying.

            Treating her as though she is entitled to a (different) job (and its benefits) even though she specifically quit her original job by violating its contract terms is infantilizing her though: it doesn’t treat her as a responsible moral agent. Treating her as more entitled to those things than other needy pregnant women who have not done as she did – deal dishonestly with the school, quit her position by violating her contract, demand a (different) job even though she quit the one she was hired for, and ultimately sue the diocese for “discrimination” – is arguably unjust to those other women, who happen to be “invisible” in this discussion.

            • http://janalynmarie.blogspot.com Beadgirl

              I’m not sure that “entitlement” is the issue here. Both in this thread and in Red Cardigan’s I suggested other ways the school could have helped her. It’s not that I think she was “entitled” to another job, just that it would have been the charitable thing to do; assuming, of course, it was at least somewhat feasible — that’s why I proposed alternatives. Just like I don’t think I would say anyone is “entitled” to charity or kindness.

              I disagree that violating one’s employment contract is the same thing as quitting. For one thing, the legal ramifications are quite different, and for another, in the first situation the employer can choose to overlook (or, if you will, forgive) the violation but in the second there is really nothing the employer can do except ask the person to come back.

              I also think that or perceptions of this woman (whom neither of us know) are coloring our responses. You see her as “demanding” another job although she “quit” hers, I see her realizing her mistake and trying to come up with a solution that works for her and protects the children.

              • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

                I definitely take the fact that she is suing for compensation as an indication that she thinks she is entitled, despite violating her contract. And it is neither charitable nor merciful nor even respectful of her as a moral agent with free will to indulge her in her fantasy of what she is entitled to.

                • Richard M

                  I agree – the lawsuit reeks.

                  But that said: I do not think that it would have been misplaced charity, Zippy, to at least pay her health insurance through the end of the pregnancy. She’s still facing the loss of her job, the school is showing that it’s not trying to punish the (unborn) children for the mother’s mistake.

                  Perhaps the school offered that. The story doesn’t say that, though.

    • http://redcardigan.blogspot.com/ Erin Manning

      FWIW, I’ve responded to Zippy here:

      http://redcardigan.blogspot.com/2013/01/in-which-i-disagree-with-zippy-catholic.html

      (Dark Lord, I forget: what’s the required penance for shamelessly linking to one’s own blog post in your comboxes? I think it involved either hot coals or boiling oil–or was it both? Pls. advise.)

  • thomas tucker

    Gee, haven’t they seen Les Miserables?

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00805469860229478026 Irksome1

      Les Miserables was placed on the Index of Prohibited Books by the Church for a reason. It is spiritually dangerous to try to draw moral lessons from it.

      • Harry

        Indeed, someone might get the horrific idea that undeserved grace is something of a good thing.

      • Richard M

        Good point – we forget that now, since no one pays attention to the Index any longer.

        One can think of reasons why it was problematic – the bishop is sympathetic, but seems indifferent to dogma or ritual (yes, these matter). There are more than a few anti-clerical statements.

        Having said all that, Les Mis is not one of the most toxic books on the Index.

    • c matt

      IIRC, the publisher of Les Mis asked to be on the Index as a marketing strategy.

  • Balin

    Did this teacher need to be fired? If Jesus could call St Peter “Satan” and still give him the job of head of His Church on earth I’m sure something could be done for this woman short of firing her. Or should Jesus have hired St John as head of the Church instead and send St Peter packing for being so publicly “satanic”? After all St John was “the Divine” while St Peter was “Satan”. If Our Lord can suffer St Peter as head of His Church cannot this archdiocese suffer this woman in some capacity short of firing her? Apparently not. Any job however deep and far behind the scenes was too good for her. That’ll teach her.

  • Thomas Tucker

    @Irksome: Les Mis was removed from the Index in 1959. Must be safe to read it now.

  • Mark S. (not for Shea)

    My little ones go to Catholic School. I would have no problem with this woman teaching my kids. We believe in mercy and forgiveness or we don’t. We believe we should support women in unplanned pregnancies or we don’t. I do. Simple as that.

  • Cinlef

    How much of a scandal would letting her keep her job really have caused to the children? (Whose moral formation seems to be the primary concern here). I mean would elementary school children know/realize their pregnant teacher was unmarried if it wasn’t explicitly stated? Perhaps I was just an especially naive or unobservant child, but I can’t recall knowing the marital status of most of my elementary school teachers.

  • Peggy R

    If the school were to lose this case, it would mean the loss of religious freedom and have moral clauses in employee hiring. Hossanah-Tabor was 9-0 in favor of the Lutheran school that fired a disabled woman. Now that had a distinction in that the teaching title was also “ministerial” but our Catholic school teachers teach religion as well without the ministerial title.

    Though the school seems uncompassionate here, it must remain the prerogative of Catholic schools to hire and fire as they see fit according to Catholic teaching.

    • Scott W.

      True. If she prevails in her frankly cynical lawsuit, the real message is “Don’t hire single women.” Of course they can’t do that due to discrimination laws, and so this sets up a de facto fornicate-without-consequences policy. And once again the Church is trapped in another liberal web of antinomian chaos where the ultimate message is: “Get out of the employment business just like you had to get out of the adoption business because you wouldn’t let homosexuals take children.” We’ve heard all this before. “No, you can’t have a significant police presence in neighborhoods with lots of crime because that is profiling; but you people who actually have to live in those neighborhoods aren’t allowed to have guns to give yourself the protection that we won’t let the cops give you. Thank you for the tax money and have a nice day.”

      Anarcho-tyranny at its finest.

      • http://redcardigan.blogspot.com/ Erin Manning

        Well, see, Scott, the problem is that the policy right now is: male employees may fornicate without consequences provided they don’t go out of their way to publicize their sins; female employees may fornicate without consequences so long as they’re willing to add the sins of contraception and/or abortion to their fornication and also not go out of their way to publicize these sins; female employees who fornicate without using contraception and who get pregnant but refuse to abort will lose their jobs and their health insurance. Even if the day after the fornication they rushed off to Confession and were sincerely repentant: too bad. Their state of grace doesn’t matter as much as the physical sign of past sin (e.g., the pregnancy).

        But I’ve been reading the comments on Zippy’s blog enough to know that all of you think that’s totally fine. I’m *trying* to come up with an explanation that doesn’t involve chauvinism, but I can’t so far.

        • N.

          He’s evil. That’s the explanation. And people like you and Mark Shea foster that evil by not having the courage to call it what it is. Blog hits are more important than God. But that’s what happens when the blogopshere becomes your god.

          • Mark Shea

            Who’s evil? How am I fostering evil today? I mean, it’s a foregone conclusion I foster evil, of course. I *love* evil. I love killing babies *and* suppressing a woman’s God-given right to choose. I love killing Pakistani babies *and* allowing terror to run wild by not supporting our glorious drone war on terror. I support gun nuts *and* want to strip Americans of their second amendment freedoms. If it’s evil, I’m for it. But I’m not clear which evil I’m supporting here.

            N. While you are reading my soul and discerning my motivations about whatever it is you think I’m being evil about (I haven’t been following this conversaation), could you use your keen psychic powers to tell me who will win the World Series this year? Because I could really use the money.

            • N.

              You foster evil when you lend credence to a person such as this “Zippy Catholic” filth by taking him seriously.

              I couldn’t care less about gun law bullshit. I care very much about these prideful, preening twats like “Zippy Catholic” dehumanizing people they personally don’t feel are Catholic enough or contrite enough or sinless enough to meet their personal and very human standards of who God is and isn’t allowed to love.

              He’s a sick little fucktard and what he really needs is to get his sorry ass kicked good and proper by a real man. He’s safe, though, because he’s carefully surrounded himself with a pack of effete, douchey, girlie men like yourself. He gets away with his evil because he knows you and your ilk are a bunch of pussies who are more interested in bloghits-for-dollars than the truth, both small ‘”t” and bit “T”.

              Your god is the blogosphere and the hits you can generate and the huge incestuous circle-jerk of moronic, self-involved, failed prats who can’t make it in the real world.

              Good luck with that. God is not going to buy your self-aggrandizing horse shit any more than I do, that’s for certain. You don’t need a crystal ball to see that, just plain common sense.

              • Margaret Catherine



                …are you Nina, from Raving (A)theist, by chance…?

                • N.

                  I’ve commented on Hemant’s blog a few times, but don’t remember exactly why, and it’s been a while.

              • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

                I feel the love.

              • Mark Shea

                I haven’t even been following this thread. How have I been taking the discussion seriously when I haven’t been paying any attention to it? Too busy. My one comment was a joke indicating that, in fact, I don’t agree with him and don’t get my intellectual marching orders from him (a private joke since somebody was speculating that Zippy was somehow my Svengali since we both have similar views on the utter moral illegitimacy of torture). You seem to be saying that because I’m letting your conversation proceed and not banishing him, I agree with him. You also seem to be under the impression that your conversation with Zippy is somehow a massive magnet for blog traffic and not a conversation about something I doubt anybody but you and he are passionate about. I know *I’m* not passionate about it and I know that my blog post is, you know, *disagreeing* with Zippy. So what you really seem to mean is that because I am not acting to censor him, I am somehow evil. Sorry I’m failing to comply with your intense need to control and censor discourse. But there you are. You might want to have that totalitarian itch looked at.

  • Dan C

    I think that in terms of personnel matters, the Church has worked Herself into a corner on this matter.

    I noted that, howver, greed will not be greeted similarly nor will, say, support for an unjust war. The Church doubles down on sex, and I claim that is a distraction. Everything the Church does in its absoluteness in America, from the politics about contraception to abortion, to these personnle matters to gay marriage, the powerful image of the Church is all about sex.

    The American Church makes prouncements on war and poverty and environment. While all are “prudential” matters, obvious greed is not denounced, unjust war promotion and torture apologists are not punished and remain employed by Catholic media outlets.

    Another matter : the thought that permitting the woman to remian in her job as “infantalizing” speaks volumes. The dynamic of the role of giving, sharing, and receiving in community for Christians is never reflected by that term. I suggest this goes back to the promoted isolationism and rugged individualism of Americanism that is not present in Catholciam. The core of Americanism is a denial of community and a promotion of the individual.

    Finally, the dynamic of forgiveness must elevate itself from our Protestant infection. Catholics are materialists in that matter matters. Real forgiveness comes with consequences in reality and this has physical real-world implications. Forgiving the employee, the unfaithful spouse, the addicted spouse all have real consequences and while we are aggressive about seeking “real” punishment on these matters, we as Catholics find less ability to seek “real” consequences of demonstrating forgiveness, even before the person asks for it. Real forgiveness has real world consequences and we need to temper our desire to seek what we think is a just punishment on the basis of Christian charity.

    This matter is awful, is a scandal, but largely because the Church once again will be shown in a bad light, which it may deserve.

    • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

      Another matter : the thought that permitting the woman to remian in her job as “infantalizing” speaks volumes. The dynamic of the role of giving, sharing, and receiving in community for Christians is never reflected by that term.

      I don’t know what this is even supposed to mean. She voluntarily disqualified herself for the job she took, attempted to get the school to create a make-work position for her for the duration of her pregnancy after which she suggested that she should return to the job for which she voluntarily disqualified herself. She obviously sees these as entitlements not mercies — you don’t sue someone for charity that they owe you. She publicly declares that her entitlement is based on the notion that a double-standard applies, thereby at least indirectly providing public support for the justification of legal abortion.

      The idea that the school should have treated this as a case of “mercy” simpliciter does infantilize her. It treats her as if all of her actions and words are childish: as if she doesn’t really mean it, the poor dear, pat on the head.

      I suggest this goes back to the promoted isolationism and rugged individualism of Americanism that is not present in Catholciam. The core of Americanism is a denial of community and a promotion of the individual.

      I suggest that you are stereotyping me risibly. I have a long history of writing against Americanism, against libertarianism, against individualism elevated to the level that the political Right elevates it, against treating the American founding and the Constitution as a civic religion, etc. Heck, I’m known around the Catholic blogosphere for my arguments against democracy and voting, for Pete’s sake.

      Its OK to stereotype me, though, because I’m a troglodyte woman-hating bad guy.

      we need to temper our desire to seek what we think is a just punishment on the basis of Christian charity.

      This woman was not punished. Losing a job for which you have voluntarily disqualified yourself through immoral behavior is not a punishment: it is just a natural consequence of her own choice. She voluntarily disqualified herself for the job she took and is now suing the diocese because she thinks she was entitled to disqualify herself without actually, you know, being disqualified.

      • Dan C

        I have read your works.

        I think the term “infantilizing” which is not an uncommon term used for providing someone assistance has a long provenance in discourse when one discusses aid, particularly financial aid. “Infantilizing” as a term suggests the giver and the receiver in such a relationship are both in a flawed relationship. Such language is not enlightening, and for folks who struggle to create Christian relationships in business and in their personal lives, find themselves in need or giving aid often. Thus a Christian community results and the language of “infantalzing” does not assist in recreating values of both accepting help or giving it easily, habits not well-attended in American community today. Someone receiving luxurious assistance is not being infantalized, anymore than God who showers some with talents and others with burdens does not infantalize the one who is gifted more. I do think that reaching for such a term is part and parcel of our American culture. (I am not a troglodyte expert and cannot comment on the relationship of this argument to that.)

        With regard to punishment, breaking a contract has negative consequences, and the individual often has punishments in the work place. These punishments can vary from suspension to other matters, but I think it is a bit odd to suggest that the employer does not punish employees in certain circumstances. The ultimate punishment is to be fired. The employee/employer relationship is not a contract of two equal parties. Power is held by one of those parties over the other person. Punishment is the outcome. Even in contracts between equal parties, penalties are assigned for failures to meet certain objectives on time, etc. Distinguishing penalties from punishment is a bit odd and a significant punishment in a relationship is to end it, which happens in contractual matters when one party finds the contract has not been met. So…the term punishment is certainly acceptable in this usage.

        The first part of the quoted sentence on punishment is somewhat bound to the second part. In a life of limited time and energy, focusing a lot of energy and time on assuring punishment will mean that one has less time for other matters. I would suggest choosing the direction of “forgiveness in reality” as the larger message.

        On this individual matter, I refrain from too many specifics, since I have no personnel details. But I am suggesting policy discussions, thinking that this is a personnel policy that is problematic.

  • N.

    I’m saying all it takes for evil to flourish is for good people to do nothing. In your case I was being far too generous in assuming you were a good person. Zippy is evil and sick. His blog is a gathering place for evil, sick people – people who believe it’s perfectly fine to kidnap and incarcerate women who’ve become pregnant out of wedlock until, as one vile creature put it, they can prove they’re not sluts anymore.

    If you don’t have the balls to stamd up and call out evil, you’re not a man at all, much less a good one. And that you lend that little turd credence by taking him seriously makws you as evil as he is.

    • Sus

      “people who believe it’s perfectly fine to kidnap and incarcerate women who’ve become pregnant out of wedlock until, as one vile creature put it, they can prove they’re not sluts anymore.”

      I saw that. It is very sick. I always wonder about the men that these women are being sluts with. How come no one wants to lock them up until they can keep their zipper up?

    • Mark Shea

      Again, you assume I’ve been paying attention. I haven’t been. You also assume lots of other people have been paying attention and that I’m therefore somehow guilty of hungering after blog hits. You assume all sorts of stuff that ain’t so as you strike the pose of the Last Voice of Conscience. But what you really seem to mean is “I hate Zippy and since you haven’t forbidden him to post, you agree with him” even though I don’t agree with him, as my blog entry makes clear. Sorry. Been busy. You’re a big kid. Fight this on your own. It’s just a combox argument. You’ll live.

      • N.

        Yeah. So you said. I get. And I get to judge your actions, remember? Or is that a right reserved for you, Zippity-douche-bag and that pack of stunted, sexually twisted freakshows over at his cowardly little blog?

        For someone who isn’t paying attention, you sure keep jumping in to let me know you’re not paying attention.

        You, that pack of animals and the Thing That Useed To Be The Catholic Church deserve each other.

  • N.

    The men these women are being “sluts” with are usually the husbands of the women like “Gabriella”. Can you blame them? Can you imagine coming home to that thing every night? And of course it’s the dirty, slutty little temptress’s fault, never the man’s. Or the women like Gabriella who drive men into the arms of other women.


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