Indianapolis archbishop: Jesuit high school cannot hold schoolwide Masses

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Students at a Jesuit high school in Indianapolis will begin the academic year without an all-school Mass, as the school appeals to the Vatican a decision by Archbishop Charles C. Thompson to strip it of its Catholic name because of its refusal earlier this year to part ways with a teacher who married someone of the same gender.

When Archbishop Thompson’s decree was announced in June, it was unclear what practical effects it would have on the Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School—other than a prohibition on being allowed to describe itself as “Catholic.” But one effect, according to a letter posted to the school’s website on Aug. 4 from President William Verbryke, S.J., is that Jesuits who minister at the high school must seek permission from the archbishop to celebrate Mass. The archbishop has allowed a daily Mass to continue, but he will not permit special, school-wide Masses, including the Mass of the Holy Spirit, which is held “as a traditional opening-of-the-school-year Mass,” according to the letter.

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The school is appealing a decision by Archbishop Charles C. Thompson to strip it of its Catholic name because of its refusal to part ways with a teacher who married someone of the same gender.

“We are disappointed and saddened by the Archbishop’s decision; however, our appeal includes our request for the ability to have school Masses on campus once again,” Father Verbryke wrote. “However, we must, and do, acknowledge the authority of the Archbishop with respect to the celebration of Mass within the Archdiocese.”

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Instead of celebrating a Mass, which was scheduled to be held on Aug. 15, the Jesuits “will call upon the blessings of the Holy Spirit in our school community for this academic year by holding a school-wide prayer service during the school day.”

In an email to America, the archdiocese defended its handling of the Brebeuf case, saying in a statement that all Catholic schools must “clearly state in its contracts and ministerial job descriptions that all administrators, teachers and guidance counselors must convey and be supportive of all teachings of the Catholic Church. Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School freely chose not to implement these practices and therefore decided to no longer be recognized as a Catholic institution in the Archdiocese.”

The archbishop has allowed a daily Mass to continue, but he will not permit special, school-wide Masses, including the Mass of the Holy Spirit.

“Out of pastoral concern and charity,” the statement continues, “Archbishop Charles C. Thompson has given permission for Mass to be celebrated every day in the school chapel before the start of school.”

In response to a follow-up question about why the archbishop specifically denied permission for a schoolwide Mass, the archdicoese’s spokesman, Greg Otolski, wrote, “By choosing to no longer be recognized as a Catholic institution, Brebeuf was relieved of the burdens and the privileges of a Catholic institution.”

In his letter Father Verbryke wrote that the school had asked Archbishop Thompson to reverse his June decree. The archbishop declined to do so, and the Jesuits are continuing the appeal process by petitioning the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education, hoping to overturn the decree.

“We do not have a timeline for how long the appeal process will take, but please be assured that we are making every effort to resolve our disagreement with the Archbishop and resume the strong relationship we have enjoyed with the Archdiocese for the past 57 years,” Father Verbryke wrote

At least two American cardinals belong to the Vatican office that will handle Breubef’s appeal: Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago and Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark. Before being appointed archbishop of Newark in 2016, Cardinal Tobin was the archbishop of Indianapolis.

According to a June 20 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.”

Father Paulson, who will lead Brebeuf Prep’s appeal to Rome, said at the time that school officials disagreed with the archdiocese and decided not to honor the archdiocese’s request in order to protect school staff and because the request from the archdiocese represented interference in employment matters.

In his letter, Father Verbryke said he hoped the appeal process would resolve itself quickly so that Masses for the entire school community could continue to be celebrated.

“We continue to welcome conversation, concerns, and most importantly prayer, as we navigate through this challenging time together,” he wrote.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
JOHN SALVATI
1 month 2 weeks ago

At my most charitable, please Charles retire, and spare us all your anguished lashing out.
blessings,
john salvati

Opting Out
1 month 1 week ago

Then Jesus said to her in reply,
"O woman, great is your faith!
Let it be done for you as you wish."
And her daughter was healed from that hour.

Matthew 15:18

Mary Therese LEMANEK
1 month 2 weeks ago

Using Mass as a carrot? Archbishop Thompson has it so wrong in so many ways.

Michael Burke
1 month 2 weeks ago

explain how he is wrong ?

Frank D. Adams
1 month 1 week ago

Mr. Burke, I do believe that your naivete is showing!

Nora Bolcon
1 month 1 week ago

I know Mary - things just keep getting stupider and stupider. LOL

FRAN ABBOTT
1 month 2 weeks ago

It is totally beyond me why a bishop would withhold celebration of the Mass, and thereby the Eucharist, from any group of Catholics for any reason. My heart is aching for everyone involved. Please, Pope Francis, set this right.

Denise Delurgio
1 month 2 weeks ago

Why would the school insist on having school wide Masses when it is no longer a Catholic school. Either you uphold the conditions of an employment contract or you don't. The Archbishop was generous in approving daily Mass for those who choose to be practicing Catholics.

Terrance Wagner
1 month 2 weeks ago

It will always be a Catholic School. Jesus is present in the tabernacle in the chapel I am sure.

Frank D. Adams
1 month 1 week ago

WOW! You grant so much power to one man - thompson! By your words you stroke his super-ego! I wish you well with this type of support for a bigot!

Michael Bindner
1 month 2 weeks ago

He confuses loyalty and Faith. The gay couple are acting in the latter. He is merely enforcing his views. Sour grapes over the Church embarrassing itself on marriage equality. It's "natural law" teachings used to oppose it were neither natural nor law. The hierarchy needs to quit while it is behind. Indeed, unless it also fires all teachers in civil marriages, their stand can only be called bigotry. Shame on them.

Michael Burke
1 month 2 weeks ago

it is beyond me how u can say sour grapes. the doctrine of the church can not allow ss marriges, its impossible by logic and revelation. what on earth do u think the church is ? it s not my church, or yours it is Jesus's church and we are invited to enter it and belong. we d not make the rules and charity does not exclude justice. justice requires doctrine is followed. if u don't like the doctrine, 'prove' it wrong. i suggest u save effort as it is an impossible request [i mean to change the doctrine as it is illogical for one thing..] My Cardinal Shaun [Boston] once replied to the request for women priest was " If it were my church i wld certainly make women priest, but its Christs church, and we can not"

Ellen B
1 month 2 weeks ago

There was no church marriage, there was a civil marriage. It isn't logical to try to apply church rules to civil practices. There have been no actions taken anywhere against civil ceremonies between a man & a woman that I am aware of, why wouldn't the same rules apply? As for Cardinal Shaun's line, BULL.

Frank D. Adams
1 month 1 week ago

Cardnal Shaun is wrong on so many levels; it would take many, many pages to outline, document, and refute even a modicum of his very confused and illogical positions. It's most apparent that you wish the Church to return to a time many years prior where the uneducated and naive church members relied upon the priest to "teach and educate them!" A Reality Check - IF, and it's a huge "IF," if the Church maintains this "control" and bigoted philosophy, the Church will cease to exit. The Church is composed of "individuals;" without those diverse folk, there is NO church!

Michael Bindner
1 month 2 weeks ago

His rejection of love in the marriage of the teacher is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. It is apt and tragic that he cancel a Mass in Her name.

Terrance Wagner
1 month 2 weeks ago

Fr Paulson, my prayers are with on your journey to Rome. Jesus will be traveling with you. I was in a 30 year relationship and married 4 years ago. Someone told my pastor and I was told I was a scandal and unable to be a sacristan. I only legally married as I am 78 yo. My two daughters live 300 miles from me. In all reality it is a civil law that helps me. Another parish 15 miles away asked me to join and become a sacristan. All is well. Jesus told me when I was 8 years old, I will be with you always.

J Jones
1 month 2 weeks ago

Terrance, thank you for sharing your beautiful story of faith and family and participation. I am so glad that church saw all of that and wanted you to be part of their community, a servant of God and the parish.

Duane Sherry
1 month 2 weeks ago

Dear RCC Leadership,

Re: LBGTQ+ Community
The earth is not flat.
Gender identity and sexual orientation are not lifestyle choices.
It's 2019.
Wake up and smell the science.

Michael Burke
1 month 2 weeks ago

science ? beside that absurdity which do you bow to: Church or science" God or man ?

Ellen B
1 month 2 weeks ago

As science comes from what God created, that's an illogical question.

Frank D. Adams
1 month 1 week ago

Agreed! Our Churh is not the same type which existed thousands of years ago; Science continues to provide many advantages to our daily lives. The Church, too, has evolved. No amount of clamour and dissonance will FORCE a return to a type of mentality which demanded strict obedience! Thanks to so many devoted and inspired members of the Catholic Community, we have a Church that is able to accept "Everyone!" To the supporters of charles thompson (and similar thugs), WE SAY in a very loud voice "We will not be intimadated, or bullied to accept that type of sick, bigoted, and hate-filled logic, words and behavior! Without OUR VOICES and SUPPORT, thompson is POWERLESS and is acknowledged for the bigot he is!

Vince Killoran
1 month 2 weeks ago

Cupich & Tobin: time to thwart the right-wing cultural warriors. The Archbishop's reading of who is a "minister" is patently absurd--a thread-bare excuse to crack down on LGBTQ teachers. So dishonest; so cynical. If the authors of the guidelines understood that everyone teaching at a Catholic school had a ministerial position they would have stated it clearly.

Rudolph Koser
1 month 1 week ago

Exactly

david_roccosalva@yahoo.com
1 month 2 weeks ago

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson: what a great example of practicing Catholicism by the rules instead of by the heart. There is nothing like an inconsequential office exerting authority.

Marcel Viens
1 month 2 weeks ago

There is NO archbishop on the face of this planet that will determine if I am or if I am not Catholic. God knows this and ONLY God has the ultimate say. God bless the entire Brebeuf Community.

Michael Burke
1 month 2 weeks ago

then you express that the 'apostleship' nature of the church [apostles creed] is wrong? that is heresy. the church has authority, it is owned by Jesus, and we are welcome to participate.if we insist on our own doctrine we are more or less protestant. by the way love is not feeling it is Justice and mercy [aquinas] and justice insist we obey, mercy is the encore to suffering-we suffer like the cross, we do not define the cross. doctrine is the conduit by which bishops know truth and they share with us feeling has nothing to do with it---logic and revelation are the Jacob's ladder

Frank D. Adams
1 month 1 week ago

Agreed, Marcel! The voices of the self-righteous clamoring to BLINDLY follow the "commands" of a hate-monger, a bigot are in themselves a PANIC response to "thinking" individuals. I am much amused to hear the terms, heresy and Church teachings, broadcast with that smug indifference to historical accuracy! We, the people, ARE the Church; we make, edit and follow the rules, philosophy, and theology! There is NO ONE indiviudal who commands such ultimate power - not even the Pope!

Alan Johnstone
1 month 2 weeks ago

What soppy sentimental agitprop; sickening.

Action have consequences.
Obey your bishop. Provide proper example to your children by showing respect for duly constituted authority.

Each and every one of those children have adults who can take them to the Eucharist at least weekly, they are not being deprived of sacramental grace.

Michael Burke
1 month 2 weeks ago

yes indeed, exactly

Frank D. Adams
1 month 1 week ago

I do agree "actions" have consequences! This bishop and his super-ego preaching hate and bigotry have NO PLACE in the Catholic Church. The Pontiff needs to address this issue immediately - replace thompson with someone who is remotely human and humahe. We are compentent, thinking individuals! There is NEVER a time or place to support HATE and BIGOTRY! This "man," thompson, needs a dose of Reality. My Church is a living, active creation; the church you advocate, blindly and naively following without thought, ceased to exit many years ago,

John Walton
1 month 2 weeks ago

Jesuits trying to re-negotiate the terms of their vows "poverty, chastity and obedience". Ever wonder what happened to "ex corde" for the Jesuit Universities?

Frank Huber
1 month 2 weeks ago

I sense many see this as a quick and easy decision. Discussion, give and take, and time are required, but especially listening. This may be reflective of the sound bite/quick response culture we live in. I believe in the slow work of God. And God be with you, Father Paulson.

Robert Lewis
1 month 2 weeks ago

I hope that Cupich and Tobin in Rome are able to reverse this quickly, because the Archbishop in Indiana is playing with fire. Civil marriage for same-sex couples is now protected by the Constitution of the United States, and the Catholic Church in Indiana is opening itself up for a lawsuit based on discrimination. While it is true that Brebeuf may have "at will" contracts, one still may not sever employees for gender or sexual preference. I reckon that if there were a Democratic Administration in Washington, and if Brebeuf had honored the Archbishop's request, there might already be a lawsuit in the works, because the "woke" elements of the lgbtq community are spoiling for a fight with the American Catholic Church over such issues. The Jesuit Provincial here needs to explain to Cupich and Tobin that he is actually PROTECTING the Catholic Church in Indiana against the possibility of such legal actions.

Michael Burke
1 month 2 weeks ago

what usa law is not important, after all it allows abortion. the church can not change doctrine no matter. the D party, secular and liberal, wants Church to change in their image, we can not allow that

Frank D. Adams
1 month 1 week ago

LOL! Your rhetoric is both illogical and humorous! You need some time for self-reflection; the times which demanded for blind obedience to A MAN and his singular interpretation of the Church's liturgy and laws is long sense passed. There ARE many folk who can read, reflect, and comprehend much of the Church's philosophy, liturgy, and writings. Folk like thompson are FOOLS!

Dominik w
1 month 2 weeks ago

A wise decision by the bishop.
Children who attend a Catholic school should have positive Catholic role models, especially among the teachers. Tolerating grave immorality among the teachers of a school amounts to a tolerance of sin and rejection of Catholic dogma, hence this school can no longer be called Catholic and thus should not have the privilege of school-wise masses like real Catholic institutions.

Erin B
1 month 1 week ago

Then the school should go through it's employee roster and fire everyone that disregards Church teachings. People who cohabitate before marriage, women using birth control, those who are divorced and remarried without an annulment, etc. Do not target the LGBT employees and ignore the others.

Robert Lewis
1 month 1 week ago

And, if it can be proved that they do, that'll help establish the grounds for discrimination based on gender or sexual preference. I'll repeat: the Indiana Archdiocese is setting itself up for a prosecution; "gay marriage" (and this one is only a "civil union" anyway) is protected by the Constitution of the United States.

Michael Burke
1 month 2 weeks ago

how on earth do the Jesuits overcome doctrine for their own 'purpose', in fact they do not address the nature of Catholic church, reason guided by revelation interpreted by the authority of the apostles. now this doe not mean a ss couple r going to hell, it does mean they can not serve the church. their actions [publicly getting 'married' ] are a heresy, they are saying marriage is what they want it to be [emotional attachment] when it is a sacrament not a sentiment. they r publicly a\saying this, thus insisting [as catholics] a lie. this not a matter of 'bigotry' rather an expression of truth. so again Jesuits are pretending they are above truth.

Frank D. Adams
1 month 1 week ago

LOL! Time for a Reality Check! Believe it, or not! This is 2019 and not 400 BCE; the Church's laws, philosophy, tenets, liturgy, etc. were created, written, and promulgated by both men and women during a period of time when less than 1% of the populace was literate. Oral tradition was the common practice; there was NOT one practice, nor one theology! Please do a bit of reading on the history of the Church and the Catholic Religion! Knowledge is a powerful weapon!

karen oconnell
1 month 2 weeks ago

thompson believes that the church (ie ''us'') is HIS church, not the church of Jesus. the 'authoritarian' beat goes on. ,,,, sad

J Jones
1 month 2 weeks ago

Mass, the party favor

Maxwell Anderson
1 month 2 weeks ago

I pray Brebeuf will get the students to plan the school-wide prayer service for the beginning of their school year, turning this into a learning process.

Erin B
1 month 1 week ago

So you want to punish the students - children - for the decision made by the misguided Archdiocese?

Janet Leitch
1 month 2 weeks ago

Some of the comments are related to obedience of Church law and some are related to obedience of Church authority in the person of a bishop. It is true that the Church teaches against same sex marriages. The Church also teaches many other things. Currently, The bishops are asking for Catholics to speak out against gun violence and for humane immigration policy. Since we are all sinners in one way or another, should we not also call for the cancellation of contracts of all employees of Catholic institutions who own automatic weapons? Should we call on the cancellation of contracts of all employees of Catholic institutions who are divorced? Should we cancel the Catholic affiliation of any Catholic institution who has an employee who does not go to Mass every week? It is a challenge for all of us to live out our faith consistently with love of God and love of our neighbor as the guiding principles with logs in our own eyes.

J Jones
1 month 2 weeks ago

Meanwhile there is a parish with a school n Kentucky that hosts Kentucky's biggest political event Fancy Farm, and gravestones were erected with the names of candidates.

Mike Macrie
1 month 1 week ago

We need to remember that Catholic Schools are Private Religious Schools who receive no government support like Charter Schools. They have rules in place set forth from the Vatican down. Catholic Parents pay to send
their kids to attend these Schools based on these Rules.
The Bishop is only following the Rules from the top Catholic Leadership, he is not setting his own rules.
I once talk to a Priest whose own Opinion was that the Vatican and Bishops do everything in their power to chase people away from the Faith with Archaic Church Rules. If this Lay Teacher sticks to teaching and does not express his own personal views on gays and gay marriage, he should not be fired from his position. This is an Archaic Rule that hopefully the Vatican will change.

J Jones
1 month 1 week ago

Mike, one of the most dishonest advertising campaigns going out there is the myth that Catholic institutions are funded by Catholics. Those days ended decades ago. A lot of Catholic schools do receive taxpayer finding. The Catholic school which fired this man's spouse - same archdiocese - receives taxpayer funding. The RCC manipulatively chooses not to correct the long-dead story that every institution labeled "Catholic" (hospitals, universities, schools, social services, shelters, housing, refugee services, international aid, etc) is accomplished using "Catholic" funds.
Choose a Catholic institution, research its annual report and send just how much of that institution's income is granted by the American taxpayer (including LGBT taxpayers). Schools tend to receive far below the amount of taxpayer fuding received by all other Catholic institutions but many Catholic schools receive some taxpayer funding.

Mike Macrie
1 month 1 week ago

I agree with you that Catholic Hospitals, Universities, Social Services etc, do receive Public funding. I can only relate to the Catholic Schools that have closed because of lack of funding and Catholic Schools that are hanging on by Parish and Diocese Subsides. I don’t know if this particular Jesuit Catholic School receives public funding but they may receive funding from other sources like non- Catholic Estate Donations. I can only talk about what I see in our Parish and our Diocese. But what I believe is that the Teacher should not have been fired regardless of how the parents feel about the Gay Teacher if he is doing his job.

Sister Lea Hunter
1 month 1 week ago

If Jesus did not withhold Eucharist from Judas at the Last Supper, where does the Church get the gall to withhold Jesus in Eucharistic celebration from anyone? Shouldn't we be looking at the Gospel here instead of Church law which needs to change in accord with Jesus' most frequent command NOT to judge one another, but rather to love one another.

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