Archdiocese pulls ‘Catholic’ label from Jesuit school for refusing to fire teacher in same-sex marriage

Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis, IN. (KimManleyOrt, Creative Commons)Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis, IN. (KimManleyOrt, Creative Commons)

An Indianapolis Jesuit high school is standing by a teacher who the Archdiocese of Indianapolis said should not be rehired after the employee’s same-sex marriage became public. As a result, the archdiocese will prohibit Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School from calling itself “Catholic,” a decision the school plans to appeal.

According to a statement from Brian Paulson, S.J., provincial of the USA Midwest Province Jesuits, school leaders learned in the summer of 2017 that a teacher at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School had entered a civil marriage with someone of the same gender. The marriage became known via social media, according to Father Paulson, who said the archdiocese then orally requested that the school not renew the teacher’s contract. The school decided not to honor that request, as the “teacher in question does not teach religion and is a longtime valued employee of the school.”

Advertisement

Father Paulson said that the school disagreed with the archdiocese and that it decided not to honor the archdiocese’s request to protect school staff and because the school considered it interference in employment matters by the archdiocese.

“I recognize this request by Archbishop Charles Thompson to be his prudential judgment of the application of canon law recognizing his responsibility for oversight of faith and morals as well as Catholic education in his archdiocese,” he said. But, he continued, “I disagree with the necessity and prudence of this decision. This is a disagreement between two church leaders of goodwill with related, but distinct responsibilities.”

[Don’t miss the latest news from the church and the world. Sign up for our daily newsletter.]

Though exact figures are unavailable, many L.G.B.T. people have been fired from jobs as teachers, church musicians and pastoral associates in recent years after their marriages were made public. Instances of a Catholic entity publicly disagreeing with church leaders over the employment status of a gay employee is rare.

Father Paulson said that the school disagreed with the archdiocese and that it decided not to honor the archdiocese’s request to protect school staff and because the school considered it interference in employment matters by the archdiocese.

The Archdiocese of Indianapolis said in a statement that teachers are “ministers” regardless of the subjects they teach and said that to be effective, “all ministers in their professional and private lives must convey and be supportive of Catholic Church teaching.” According to the decree from Archbishop Thompson, the school “can no longer use the name Catholic and will no longer be identified or recognized as a Catholic institution by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.” It says the decree is effective until the school “demonstrates their desire to operate in accord with the doctrine and pastoral practice of the Catholic Church.”

Despite the decree, which goes into effect June 21, the school’s leadership says it is still Catholic and that Jesuits will still be able to work at the school and celebrate sacraments there.

William Verbryke, S.J., president of the school, as well as the chair and chair-elect of its board of trustees, said in a letter that Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School is “disheartened that the Archbishop has chosen to end our formal relationship. Nevertheless, our identity as a Catholic Jesuit institution remains unchanged.”

Jesuits will still be able to work at the school and celebrate Mass there and its leaders are “prayerfully discerning how best to proceed with the process of appealing the Archdiocese’s directive.”

Father Verbryke’s letter goes on to say, “To our knowledge, the Archdiocese of Indianapolis’ direct insertion into an employment matter of a school governed by a religious order is unprecedented.” The letter calls the archdiocese’s move “a unique action among the more than 80 Jesuit secondary/pre-secondary schools which operate in dioceses throughout North America, along with the countless Catholic schools operated by other religious orders such as the Christian Brothers, Dominicans, and Xaverian Brothers.”

The decision not to follow the archdiocese’s decree was both to protect employees, the school said, as well as to avoid future “interference in the school’s operations and other governance matters.”

Jesuits will still be able to work at the school and celebrate Mass there and its leaders are “prayerfully discerning how best to proceed with the process of appealing the Archdiocese’s directive.”

The school, which posted a link to Father Verbryke’s letter on its Twitter account along with the hashtag “#BeBrave,” a reference to its school mascot, is hosting an information session for parents on June 24 in the school’s chapel. Nearly 800 students are enrolled at Brebeuf Jesuit, which was founded in 1962 and employs a faculty and staff of 132.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Al Cannistraro
1 year 1 month ago

Sadly, the Roman Catholic Church in the US is pretty much in a death spiral that likely will not take longer than a generation or two at most, and the medieval arguments from authority expressed in many of the comments here illustrate why this is so.

Addeendum 6/23/19 10:45 am: The moderator has cleaned up the comments, removing the most intemperate ones. May of those were the comments I had in mind when I wrote the comment above. It's unfortunate that so many commenters attracted to this blog are so out-of-control authoritarian. It seems to be a trend.

Sarina Singh
1 year 1 month ago

I live in Toronto and we just witnessed a parade of 2 million people downtown after the Toronto Raptors won the NBA championship. I can't help but think why is it people are willing to show up in the millions for sports parades but will not do so to protest same - sex marriage, and the trans agenda. What does this say about human nature? What does this say about our society? I'm confused.

J Jones
1 year 1 month ago

Sarina, it says that there are not 2 million people in Toronto who are interested in denying civil rights and protections to the LGBTQ community.

Frank Elliott
1 year 1 month ago

It says that the people of your city refuse to treat LGBT people like Dalits.

Patrick West
1 year 1 month ago

It means Toronto like San Francisco and New York will receive the same Judgement THE LORD gave to Sodom and Gomorra

William McCormick
1 year 1 month ago

Why do parents pay for Catholic schools and not accept free public education? They entrust their children to teachers, who will promote the Catholic faith. Homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered according to our Catholic faith. A Catholic school teacher, in such a relationship, is sending the wrong message. Insubordination by priests and religious to their bishops is similarly wrong.

J Jones
1 year 1 month ago

Editors, thank you for the careful moderation.

Lisa M
1 year 1 month ago

Is that what it's called? Good to know.

Janeen Russell
1 year 1 month ago

Jesuits have disgraced themselves as they go further and further Left.

Frank Elliott
1 year 1 month ago

You’re a loathsome self righteous pew tumor.

Patrick West
1 year 1 month ago

Surprised why in 1600s the Pope shut down their religious order?

Robert Davison
1 year 1 month ago

Moves like this make me question Why continue to be Catholic? The action by the Archbishop essentially states that not all people are created equal. These days we know so much more about human relationships - and they are real. I know - I have a gay son who is married to another man. They really love one another and bring genuine happiness to each other. Why doesn't the Church simply recognize this happens and for the good of the couple and their families. Removing "Catholic" from the name of the school because of this relationship is a hurtful message to the couple and another black eye for the Church in this day and age.

Al Cannistraro
1 year 1 month ago

The Church is hamstrung by its claims of "magesterium," having a divine nature, the inerrancy of tradition, and so on. The Church lets its doctrines evolve only very slowly over a period of decades or centuries. The church used to bless the use of torture and horrible execution for heresy and apostasy, for example. Slavery. Nuclear family, Holy warfare. Male supremacy in the family. Literal interpretation of the bible as a science reference book or a book of historical facts. And so on. These beliefs are allowed to fade away or evolve without explicit repudiation. If the Church lasts long enough, it will no doubt evolve its beliefs about gender and sexuality -- long after we are dead and gone.

Patrick West
1 year 1 month ago

The Catholic Church cannot accept what God rejects. Read the Holy Bible what it says about gays and lesbians. If you truly love your son pray for his return to God's narrow but true ways. Narrow is the path that leads to Heavens. Wide is the path that leads to hell. Pray for your son's salvation, no matter how long it takes to have God answer your prayers. Holy patience, brother.

Frank Elliott
1 year 1 month ago

The school just announced that they’ve fired the teacher to maintain their “Catholic identity.”. The Jesuits are still the same cowards they always were, and being a good Catholic is still the same as being a “good German.”

Opting Out
1 year 1 month ago

Frank Elliott wrote: The school just announced that they’ve fired the teacher to maintain their “Catholic identity.”. The Jesuits are still the same cowards they always were, and being a good Catholic is still the same as being a “good German.”

You have confused schools. The Jesuits are not the "same cowards as they always were" and your insulting language tells us more about you than they. The school you are referencing is a minor school in Indianapolis run by the Archdiocese hosted at the Cathedral of that archdiocese.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/education/2019/06/23/indianapolis-catholic-school-fires-gay-teacher-archdiocese/1543989001/

Cathedral High School, located on the northeast side of Indianapolis, announced Sunday it is terminating a gay teacher in order to avoid a split with the archdiocese...

J Jones
1 year 1 month ago

Thank for posting this clarification. I made the same mistake Frank did when I saw the headline this morning about Cathedral. The act of conscience by the Jesuits is so profoundly hopeful -- such profound act of discipleship which is different from obedience to institutional authority -- that it seems almost too good to be true, and clerics have betrayed the laity so often that it would be foolish not to be aware that more betrayal is an ever present possibility when it comes to RCC. I am grateful Frank and I were mistaken, and I am grateful to you for posting the clarification.

Opting Out
1 year 1 month ago

J Jones wrote: I am grateful Frank and I were mistaken, and I am grateful to you for posting the clarification.

My husband and I are monitoring this case very carefully as are several of our married gay friends at our parish. It gives us much needed hope. Truly. This is why I chastised the previous commenter. The Jesuits are doing what no one or no other body is doing, so please support them and recognize that. The scandal here, as I wrote in the second comment under the article, is the US Bishops are burdening the laity with yokes not even they can fulfill . The married gay teacher at the high school, like my husband and me, are role modeling to the world that a gay marriage can be as holy, loving, sacramental and licit as any other marriage. We gays do not relish being gay for that would mean welcoming a life of scorn, ridicule, alienation and exclusion. No one would willingly choose such a state in life. Alas we have 3 options: suicide, castration or try with all of our might to be happy in spite of being “disordered”. To the Bishops I say: HYPOCRITES! Get your house in order and live honest lives with integrity. We gays do.

J Jones
1 year 1 month ago

"Live honest loves with integrity." Well said. That is exactly how I understand this decision by the Jesuits and it is profoundly welcome to me as an ally of the LGBTQ community and as Catholic who seeks to participate with spiritual leaders who have the courage of Christ rather than the obedience of employees. "Live honest lives with integrity". That is also how I see my LGBTQ friends who seek to live openly as devoted, committed and Catholic couples. My life is better for their honesty and integrity and commitment to live life as God created them to live it. The courage of the LGBTQ community to proclaim themselves as children of God and to demand their seat at the table is, for me, profoundly joyful and hopeful and inspiring. I know that many see Pride celebrations as bacchanals. I experience them as a collective shout of joy at simply being alive, TOGETHER. I believe THAT is what is infectious about Pride celebrations. In the joy of survivor communities - whether African American, Jewish, Native, LGBTQ and the now the American Islamic community - I find courage to hold on to my own joy at being alive, even when the hardships of life press in from all sides. Thank you for sharing the joy of your marriage and your community, Jose. My life is richer - and more fully and joyfully Christian - because of you, even though we have never met.

Patrick West
1 year 1 month ago

How good to know Our Lord Jesus Christ still has Apostles in the Diocese of Indianapolis who fought bravely for His Holy Commandments and Catholic Doctrine on this unfortunate issue. Christ never changed a word or letter of His Laws when he came. The Bible is very clear about it: DAMN BE THE MAN THAT LAYS WITH ANOTHER MAN

Patrick West
1 year 1 month ago

How good to know Our Lord Jesus Christ still has Apostles un the Diocese of Indianapolis who fought bravely for His Holy Commandments and Catholic Doctrine on this unfortunate issue. Christ never changed a word or letter of His Laws when he came. The Bible is very clear about it: DAMN BE THE MAN THAT LAYS WITH ANOTHER MAN

Opting Out
1 year 1 month ago

Patrick West: DAMN BE THE MAN THAT LAYS WITH ANOTHER MAN

Christ had two great commandments: love the Lord & your neighbor as yourself. You clearly have failed the latter which means you disregard the former. In your case I cant imagine any man or woman wishing to lay down with you, and the dog just ran away because he wants nothing to do with you either. There is always the hand but given the Scriptures on cutting off your hand (or keyboard) when it causes you to sin, looks like you're in trouble cupcake 😜

Advertisement

The latest from america

75 years after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, writes Drew Christiansen, S.J., the danger of nuclear war is as high as ever. Our “deterrence” strategy needs to be reconsidered.
A nurse prepares a shot as a study of a possible Covid-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., on July 27 in Binghamton, N.Y. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)
Imagine the potential for chaos once a Covd-19 vaccine becomes available, write Kevin Wildes, S.J., and Warren von Eschenbach. We need to decide now who should get the vaccine and when.
Kevin W. WildesAugust 04, 2020
Maximino Caballero Ledo
Maximino Caballero Ledo has extensive experience as a finance leader with Baxter International, a Fortune 500 American health care company.
Gerard O’ConnellAugust 04, 2020
Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski of Springfield, Mass., addresses the congregation alongside Lutheran Bishop Donald Kreiss, chair of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's ecumenical and interreligious relations committee, during a March 2, 2017, prayer service in Chicago. (CNS photo/Karen Callaway, Chicago Catholic) 
Archbishop-elect Rozanski will arrive in St. Louis at a difficult time, as pandemic anxieties and protests against racism rock the city.
Sean Salai, S.J.August 03, 2020