Difficult Questions

From the Springfield Republican:

The athletic director at Cathedral High School [Springfield, MA] lost her job this week, saying she was pressured to leave after marrying her female partner in August. Christine M. Judd, who served as athletic director and dean of students, said she is no longer an employee of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield school system after a meeting Wednesday with administrators of the Catholic high school.


The diocese says Judd resigned, but she tells the paper she is exploring her legal options. According to the article, Judd began her career at Cathedral 12 years ago as a science teacher, and rose to athletic director and then dean of students.

The church faces a relatively new reality in which same-sex couples can legally wed, and real-world situations are now facing church authorities who have to weigh various factors. Is talent alone enough to keep someone employed? Can bishops and priests preach against same-sex unions on Sunday and then reap the benefits of its gay and lesbians employees on Monday? What leads to a bigger public scandal, employing a married lesbian at a Catholic school or nonprofit, or firing her and being charged with cruel intolerance by the court of public opinion?

It would be easy to condemn one side or the other, especially when confronting a very emotional issue. But the reality is much more complex. However the church chooses to respond will hearten some and infuriate others. But it will be important for Catholics to remember that as same-sex marriage becomes more mainstream, decisions like the one made in the Judd situation will be looked at by many as intolerant and narrow-minded. This viewpoint won't be exclusive to the church's detractors, but increasingly, especially from the younger generations, from within its own ranks as well. Careers, emotional well-being, authority, legitimacy, and relevancy are all at stake. It will be important moving forward to consider very thoughtfully what the church's policies will be in cases such as this.

Michael O'Louglin


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David Pasinski
8 years 3 months ago
While I fully support the right of gays and lesbians to marry, I think this article is correct that wisdom must prevail - as well as consistency. Therefore, it is interesting to think of how the Church treats divorced and remarried  employees(do they ask whether the person, if Catholic, had an annulment and was married in Catholic rites?) or whether a couple living together (or move in together in the course of employment) are asked about their status. If two women or two men are sharing a home, are there questions that will be asked or presumptions made?
8 years 3 months ago
"But it will be important for Catholics to remember that as same-sex marriage becomes more mainstream, decisions like the one made in the Judd situation will be looked at by many as intolerant and narrow-minded."

This gets back to the old question posed by Aquinas: what is worse, pain or fault?  Is it worse to suffer the pain of public opinion?  Or to endorse morally corrupt positions that lead others to pain?

I can't get into an agrument on here today; however, the logic presented by the blogger is faulty.  Just because popular opinion - now dominated by modern relativistic thinking - is against the teaching of the church does not mean that the Church should change it's position.

Abortion is considered appropriate by large numbers of the public - should the Church embrace this practice to stay out of the crosshairs of public opinion?

Also, considering the fact that the majority of the liberal mainline Protestant churches have adopted this dogma of liberal relativism YET they continue to decline in both membership and influence in the public square. 

We are called to be the salt of the earth - not to blend in with moral disintergration and confussion of the modern world...
Chris Sullivan
8 years 3 months ago
<i>decisions like the one made in the Judd situation will be looked at by many as intolerant and narrow-minded.</i>

I think that's because they ARE intolerant and narrow-minded.

The result of these kinds of punative actions will merely be to undermine understanding and acceptance of Catholic sexual teaching.

God Bless
8 years 3 months ago
Right, but what of some other controversial prohibition that is lifestyle oriented - say birth control.

This was a deeply unpopular stance that most other religious demoninations did not take and the majority of public opinion is against.

However, when considering the impact of birth control on STD rates, unsustainable population decreases in Western (+Japan, Russia) socities, environmental damange of estrogen in water sources, divorce, and general abstraction/degridation of human sexuality - it is not a far strech that the Church was correct in her original condemnation and prohibition.

This is much more similar a comparison than on the issue of abortion. 

And, if we want to truly be thoughtful on this issue we should consider the long-term societal impacts of such actions or lifestyles, as opposed to the simple psychological or individual impacts.

James Lindsay
8 years 3 months ago
The Sacrament of Matrimony has always been somewhat dependent on how society understands marriage.  To accept and celebrate a new understanding is not selling out to popular opinion but is instead dealing with the world as it really is.  The Church's identification of homosexuality as disordered is a sophistry designed to overcome the argument that A. Gays are wonderfully made and B. Sexuality is a gift from God.  Homosexuality is just "there" - the Church's teaching that it is disordered simply means that in their cramped version of the natural order, such a designation is necessary in order to affirm the status quo.  The people who insist on such a reading will age out of authority within the next 10 years - or at least enough of them will so that the remainder of the clergy can safely overrule them.

The teaching on birth control has much more authority when based on an opposition to Eugenics.  It gets dicier when the celibate clergy tries to judge the quality of married love when contraception is used - or when it takes a position on medical ethics while disregarding the opinion of the community of embryologists and sexual ethicists.
Thomas Rooney
8 years 3 months ago
I agree this is a difficult situation, and ought to be handled in a proper, pastoral manner whatever the outcome.  However, we need to be careful with how we approach said situation.  Mr. O'Louglin writes:

"However the church chooses to respond will hearten some and infuriate others.  But it will be important for Catholics to remember that as same-sex marriage becomes more mainstream, decisions like the one made in the Judd situation will be looked at by many as intolerant and narrow-minded."

Without knowing the specifics of this case, the author has already made an assumption of how the church chose to respond; and has already condemned the diocese as making an intolerant and narrow-minded. 

The diocese says she resigned.  Judd claims she was pressured to do so and is exploring legal options.  That's all the public knows at this point.  Snap judgments like Mr. O'Louglin's  do no good.  Keep in mind that the diocese...any diocese, really...is an effective punching bag and quite a large target these days, legally speaking.  To "thoughtfully consider" the church's policies, reserve judgment until those policies are clear.  As of yet, at least in this specific case, they are not.


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