Kansas archbishop responds to criticism over school not enrolling child

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, who heads the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kan., is seen in this Aug. 31, 2015, photo. The archbishop also is chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities. (CNS photo/Lori Wood Habiger, The Leaven)

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (CNS) -- Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City wrote his March 15 column in The Leaven, the archdiocesan newspaper, about a Catholic school's decision not to enroll the child of a non-Catholic same-sex married couple, noting the issue has garnered local and national media attention.

"Not surprisingly, the secular media has been very negative in their portrayal of the decision" by St. Ann Catholic School in Prairie Village, he said.

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"Some St. Ann parishioners, as well as many more non-parishioners from both Missouri and Kansas, have signed a petition urging me to reconsider the decision," he wrote. "I believe most petitioners and many other critics of the decision are well-intentioned. They have a genuine concern for the child and the same-sex couple.

"I share their concern for the welfare of both the child and the parents, but we disagree about the best way to treat them with both respect and compassion."

The primary purpose of the parochial schools "is to help Catholic parents form their children in the faith," the archbishop wrote.

"We assist parents to help their children to discover their God-given dignity. Our schools attempt to help students not just know about God, but actually to encounter God and experience his unique, personal love for them," he said.

"An important part of this spiritual formation is helping our students develop the virtues necessary to live a moral life," he said. "Part of this virtue formation includes cultivating chastity, helping our students understand the meaning and purpose of their sexuality."

The Catholic Church teaches its students that "the nature of marriage" is "a call to heroic, faithful, fruitful and forever love which serves as the foundation of the family," he said.

The church's upholds traditional marriage, between one man and one woman, he said, and the "foundational principles" for Christian marriage are described in "the very beginning of the Bible," in the Book of Genesis.

Even without "the benefit of biblical revelation," the same truths "are available to us through reason," the archbishop said. "Non-Christian societies and cultures have understood marriage is to be a permanent commitment between a man and a woman for their benefit and the benefit of the children born from their union."

"In a culture that celebrates same-sex marriage as cultural progress and encourages gays to be proud of their lifestyle, our church needs to uphold moral truth," Archbishop Naumann said.

In his column he also noted that some critics of the school's decision have asked "why not admit a child of a same-sex couple, when there are other school parents not living in a manner consistent with Catholic moral teaching?" But, he added, "I am not sure how those posing the question know the intimate details of other parents' lives or how they propose the church should acquire such knowledge."

He also said that the "unique and permanent bond of husband and wife creates the ideal environment for the birth of a child," and children benefit from witnessing "the love of their father for their mother and vice versa" and from receiving the love of mother and father.

Children raised in single-parent homes are not "doomed to failure and unhappiness," he said, noting he was raised in a single-parent family, but these children face "additional challenges" and need additional "love and support," and Catholic schools strive to help these families, he added.

He acknowledged that the issue of same-sex attraction "hits close to home" for many, because "most of us know someone in our family or among our friends who struggles (with this)."

"We love them and desire what is best for them. It is very important to note that experiencing same-sex attraction is not sinful," the archbishop said. "In fact, some of the most virtuous people I know are individuals with same-sex attraction who choose to live a chaste life."

A positive development in contemporary culture "has been to make it unacceptable to ridicule homosexuals," Archbishop Naumann said. "It is offensive to God to make cruel, demeaning remarks about those made in his image, about those for whom Jesus gave his life on Calvary."

"At the heart of our Catholic faith is respect for the dignity of every human person who is created in the divine image and is of such worth in the eyes of God that Jesus gave his life on Calvary," he said.

"In the very first chapter of the Bible, we read: 'God created man in his image, in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them,'" he said. "Human beings are the masterpiece of God's creation. Among all creation, God gave human beings the freedom to choose to do his will or not."

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Erin B
2 months ago

They should be sure then to dismiss children of divorced parents, parents who use birth control, parents that are cohabiting but not married, etc. You can't use the "sanctity of marriage" as an excuse when all you're targeting is gay marriage.

Judith Jordan
2 months ago

Erin B---
I agree with you. They should also dismiss children of adulterers and children who are abused by a parent since that also does not reflect the “sanctity of marriage.”

It is difficult to imagine Jesus treating a child like the Church is treating this child of same-sex married couple.

Joseph Culotta
2 months ago

Fr Joe Culotta. I honestly don't get the Bishop's point. I thought the Catholic Church taught that parents were the first and primary teachers of the faith within the family. I recall the words that the family unit was the domestic church. Here two parents, the first teachers of faith, are wanting to partner with a Catholic school community to help shape their child's conscience and relationships with Jesus Christ. It would seem a wonderful opportunity for the church to share Her truth through the various dialogues that can Grace the experience of a Catholic education. Are we afraid to engage those who differ from us. Are we comfortable only living faith in a vacuum. In The Joy of the Gospel, Francis challenges the church, yes me and Bishop's alike, to take the Good News whenever and wherever it intersects our encounters with one another. Why run away from partnerships or fresh opportunities to grow from one another on the way. What does it mean to accompany one another if it doesn't mean to welcome this student?

Phillip Stone
2 months ago

You, a presbyter don't get the bishop's point and who is at fault?

The heterosexual couples are not usually conspicuous in their sinfulness, two men presenting themselves as a married couple are most decidedly as conspicuous as the Rainbow Sash attempted communicants to Archbishop Pell. It is highly likely that these poor children have been misappropriated and they are not the parents.
The heterosexual couples are highly unlikely to lobby for the school to teach that chastity before and within marriage and serial polygamy is not to be taught against in the RE classes and sermons; the same sex couple is quite likely to demand that the poor unfortunate child or children they have got their hands on be protected from shame by leaving out all orthodox and traditional teaching about marriage and the family.
Hopefully, lots of the parents of the other children have them at a Catholic school to be catechised so as to develop true, well formed Catholic consciences.

It is you who seem to fear taking a stand for the gospel. Go back to the psalms and have a meditative read on Psalm 119 in the NRSVCE.

Preaching the line between good and evil is the most loving of all.
This is sin, this is not.
It is not coercive, it is not argumentative, it respects the freedom of the hearer, it invites the hearer to choose.
God has made us all to prefer good deep down and the gift of clarity about what is right and wrong, good and bad is infinitely compassionate.

FRAN ABBOTT
2 months ago

Jesus said “Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not”. He did not mention anything about their parents. Pope Francis said “Who am I to judge?” Here we have both forbidding and judging. A sad day for American Catholics.

FRAN ABBOTT
2 months ago

Jesus said “Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not”. He did not mention anything about their parents. Pope Francis said “Who am I to judge?” Here we have both forbidding and judging. A sad day for American Catholics.

Annette Magjuka
2 months ago

I am angered by Naumann's decision. I am old enough to remember when Catholic schools were there to serve all children, especially the marginalized. Catholic schools and churches were a force for civil rights and showed Catholics how to fight for justice. Here we have an archbishop who is doing the marginalizing! It is outrageous. It seems that he is saying the child should be turned away, because otherwise the school community would be "forced" to discriminate against the family! The church needs to move beyond being the sex police and engage in the actual obligations we Catholics have in the world: to love. Naumann's decision is the opposite of a loving act.

Phillip Stone
2 months ago

The obligation of the faithful disciple of Christ: "Go out to the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature; baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit".

Timothy 3:1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:
2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,
4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!

People who have misdirected love will find themselves separated from God and separated from God's people because as Christians we are turn away from those who have this misdirected love.

Maggie Flynn
2 months ago

It's particularly disingenuous to be claiming the moral high ground vis a vis faith formation of young at a time when a Cardinal and numerous bishops and priests have been convicted or implicated in child abuse cases. A conservative estimate is that the church has paid out BILLIONS in child abuse settlements and paternity suits. But, sure, the "real" problem is a young child with two loving parents who want that child raised in a faith filled sacramental based school.

Phillip Stone
2 months ago

Because some bishops have gone the way of Judas, then no other bishop may be faithful and advocate virtue?
Give us evidence that these two sodomites wish the children to be taught that they are grave sinners?

Chris Godly
2 months ago

I wish the archbishop had simply explained how turning the child away shows respect and compassion. Clearly many people do not see respect and compassion in this action and showing how the school's response does that is the teachable moment and he appears to have passed it up.

James M.
2 months ago

The CC shows, yet again, that it delights in wronging the defenceless, while spewimg oceans of narcissistic nonsense about how it is The Best Church Evah. By this perverted logic, it should refuse the sacraments to converts whose parents decline to become Catholics.

The moral and spiritual imbecility of the CC knows no bounds. If Jesus were on Earth again, it would lead the charge to crucify Him again.

Phillip Stone
2 months ago

60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?”
61 But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you?
62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?
63 It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
64 But among you there are some who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him.
65 And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.”
66 Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him.
67 So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?”
68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life.
69 We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”
70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? Yet one of you is a devil.”
71 He was speaking of Judas son of Simon Iscariot, for he, though one of the twelve, was going to betray him.
John 6:50-71 New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE)

James M, does this dismay seem familiar?
Have you already walked away?

Vincent Gaglione
2 months ago

There was a time, maybe it still exists, when a child of a non-Catholic marriage – illegitimate according to Church doctrine - could not become a Roman Catholic priest without some sort of dispensation. In present times it would seem, well, in fact it is, an anomaly of attitudes that to me contradicts Christian values.

May I suggest that the Bishop’s decision reflects another anomaly of attitude that does not reflect Christian values? Must every child feel the stigma of judgment for the parents’ sins?

Damian Torres-Botello
2 months ago

*HEAVY SIGH*

Mister Mckee
2 months ago

"Even without "the benefit of biblical revelation," the same truths "are available to us through reason," the archbishop said."
Yes, tell us, Archbishop, what exactly did JESUS say about homosexuality?
Google IMAGES of "Jesus words on homosexuality."
Is this school receiving any FEDERAL funding?

Diane Geverink
2 months ago

I have never heard it anywhere that children from a divorced or non-Catholic marriage are "illegitimate" in the eyes of the Church - not even in information given (from the Church) about those divorced Catholics seeking annulment for previous marriage(s). I wonder, in this case, how this news came to light. I assume that the "aggrieved" party went running to the media. It really boggles my mind why a civilly married gay couple would want to send their child to a Catholic school, where obviously the faith- and family-based values will be taught. I believe this couple, like so many ilk, want to be in such institutions to break the truth of such institutions and normalize their "values". This is comparable to the Drag Queen Story Hour creeping up in libraries to expose and brainwash our children that this is a normal Life-style.

Robert Lewis
2 months ago

It's KANSAS. Have you any idea what public schools in KANSAS are like? (Hint: it's not Iowa or Minnesota.) That may mean that they simply want a decent education for their child, and that they have absolutely no intention of confounding or even confronting the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church regarding sexual morality. I once taught briefly, as a long-term substitute, in a Catholic high school in Connecticut, in which the child of a lesbian couple were enrolled. This was long before "gay marriage" in that state, and long before two professional women, like this child's parents, were allowed to shelter from taxation money for a child's college savings. The lesbian parents of my student were active members of the PTA, and they never murmured against what their daughter was learning in her theology class, or made as show of any such thing as a "gay lifestyle." The school and its administrators ignored the parents' relationship, and put the child's welfare first--something this wicked Pharisee of a bishop is apparently not moved to do. Congratulations to him for turning one more American child against the Catholic Church in America, and making its days even more numbered in this culture!

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