INDIANAPOLIS — Just days after the Archdiocese of Indianapolis cut ties with one Catholic high school over its decision to continue to employee a gay teacher, another school is firing one of its educators to avoid the same fate.
Cathedral High School, on the northeast side of Indianapolis, announced Sunday that it was terminating a gay teacher in order to avoid a split with the archdiocese, which last week stripped Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School of its Catholic identity.
Brebeuf refused to fire its educator, who is in a public same-sex marriage.
Cathedral’s board Chairman Matt Cohoat and President Rob Bridges posted a letter on the school’s website announcing the decision to “separate” from a teacher in a public same-sex marriage. The letter is addressed to the “Cathedral family.”
The archdiocese made it clear, the letter said, that keeping the teacher employed “would result in forfeiting our Catholic identity due to our employment of an individual living in contradiction to Catholic teaching on marriage.”
Cathedral administrators said it was “an agonizing decision” but necessary. Cathedral, like Brebeuf, had been in talks with the archdiocese about the issue for nearly two years.
The relationship between the two schools and the archdiocese is different, though. Brebeuf is sponsored by the Midwest Jesuits, an order of Catholic priests, and receives no financial support from the archdiocese.
Close ties with the archdiocese
Cathedral is affiliated with The Brothers of the Holy Cross, but relies more heavily on the archdiocese. According to the letter, the school would lose its ability to offer sacrament and could not continue to have diocesan priests serve in the school. The letter said Cathedral would also lose its 501(c)(3) status if the archdiocese ejected it and would no longer be able to operate as a nonprofit school.
“We know that some individuals do not agree with every teaching of the Catholic Church and so their conscience struggles between the teaching and what they believe is right,” Cohoat and Bridges said in their letter. “We want you to know that we respect an individual’s conflict between teaching and their conscience.”
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Cathedral is one of 68 schools Catholic recognized by the archdiocese and serves about 1,100 students in grades 9-12.
The archdiocese said last week that all Catholic schools under its purview have been instructed to enforce contracts and ministerial job descriptions that all ministers must convey and be supportive of all teachings of the Catholic Church. It recognizes all teachers, guidance counselors and administrators as ministers.
“To effectively bear witness to Christ, whether they teach religion or not, all ministers in their professional and private lives must convey and be supportive of Catholic Church teaching,” the archdiocese said in a statement sent last week in response to the Brebeuf situation.
Brebeuf to appeal archdiocese’s decision
The Midwest Jesuits came out against the archdiocese’s position last week. Brian G. Paulson, provincial for the order, said they would appeal the archdiocese’s decision to strip the school of its Catholic identity. In the meantime, he said that a representative of the archdiocese has verbally assured Brebeuf that it will continue to allow Jesuit priests to serve in leadership at the school and that they can still hold Mass on campus.
Diocesan priests would not be allowed to serve at Brebeuf, but the school does not have any.
Principal Greg VanSlambrook said the archdiocese’s decision wouldn’t impact the school’s mission or teachings and he doesn’t expect parents and families to notice a difference in operations.
This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: To save its ‘Catholic identity,’ Indianapolis’ Cathedral High School is firing a gay teacher
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