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Standing up for the Gospel

Today I reported on the brouhaha in Boulder, Colorado over the refusal of a Catholic school to admit the children of a lesbian couple. The Archdiocese of Denver has a very clear policy:

Parents living in open discord with Catholic teaching in areas of faith and morals unfortunately choose by their actions to disqualify their children from enrollment. To allow children in these circumstances to continue in our school would be a cause of confusion for the student in that what they are being taught in school conflicts with what they experience in the home.

Naturally, homosexual activists are crying "Foul!" I find this so curious. This is a private Catholic school. The policy of the Archdiocese of Denver is nothing new. The Church teaching on homosexual activity has been clear for centuries. Why on earth would these women even want to send their children to a Catholic school? It is reprehensible to use their children as pawns to make a political statement and to attack the Church.

Forgive me as I repeat myself, but if we are going to be call ourselves Catholic, we need to be Catholic. Whether it is us as individuals, families, or institutions, if we claim the identity of Catholic we must be faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church to the best of our ability. Fr. Breslin, the pastor at the center of the current dust up needs our prayers and support. His bishop, Archbishop Chaput, has given him unequivocal backing.

Yes, we are all sinners and, yes, Christ dined with the tax collectors and the prostitutes. But Christ did not affirm their sinfulness. Rather he called them to repentance and conversion. I should not embrace my sinfulness and say, "Oh well, that is how God made me." On the contrary, as is stated in the Act of Contrition, I detest my sinfulness and strive, with God's Grace, to do better.

There is an interesting discussion of this case in several posts at the Mirror of Justice blog. Professor Perry, with whom I often disagree, implies that there is an injustice in this case because there does not seem to be a similar rejection of parents who are in an irregular marriage or who are contracepting. Of course he also states there is a significant difference between the teachings of the Magisterium and the teachings of Christ. Professor Robert George offers a strong rebuttal of this assertion.

I would like to address Professor Perry's sense of injustice. Parents send their children to a Catholic school because they want an environment that supports the development of their children's Catholic faith. There must be an unequivocal support of Catholic teaching. If not, the school ceases to be Catholic and becomes just another private educational academy. The school and the family form a partnership to support the faith. If either the school or the family undermine the faith, the Catholic education is compromised. When parents are contracepting or living in an irregular heterosexual marital situation it is not necessarily apparent to the casual observer. Therefore, while their action is sinful, it may not be scandalous to the rest of the Catholic school community. If a mother has a live-in boyfriend but does not advertise the fact, her action is sinful, but it does not necessarily impact the Catholic school community at large. If her child brings the situation to the attention of others at the school, there may be a need for pastoral intervention and an evaluation of whether or not the child should continue at the Catholic school. If the mother wants to chaperone an out-of-town school field trip and share a hotel room with her boyfriend, then the school has an obligation to be more actively involved to protect its Catholic identity.

Similarly, if I have a friend or family member who is co-habitating with his girlfriend, I will be happy to have him and his girlfriend visit us. I will not allow them to share a bedroom in my home. It is not charity to enable sin. It is not that I stand in judgment of them. Rather, I must be honest about the sinfulness of their actions. I cannot condone their actions both for their sakes and for the sake of my own children.

I believe Fr. Breslin made a very strong defense of his actions when he said:

The core issue for us Catholics on this question is our freedom and our obligation to teach about marriage and family life as our Faith teaches. If parents see the cultural interpretation of what tolerance has become as more important than the teachings of Jesus, then we become unfaithful to the Lord and we lose the meaning of the beatitude, “Blessed are you when they insult you for My sake, for the Kingdom of Heaven is yours.” Many of Jesus’ teachings were not popular. In fact, He was crucified for His teachings.

Lent is a good time to reflect on this. Have I been willing to withstand the insults, curses, loss of prestige, etc for the sake of the Christ and his Gospel?


Barb, sfo said…
The argument about contracepting is a tough one. I can see both sides of it--having been at plenty of Catholic-school activities with Catholic-school (and church-attending) parents who think it's perfectly OK to contracept, and who are quite open about it.

There's a lot of "TMI" going on in school lunchrooms, let me tell you.

Of course the only thing that will be reported in this case is that a child is excluded. Nothing else, to the press, will matter--and that's all that gets out to most people. I'm sure there has been a lot of parish-level and diocesan-level discussion and prayer about how to handle this situation. And it would be tough for the child to sit in class and learn about what marriage is supposed to be when his family is so different from that model.
RAnn said…

Unfortunately, I have to disagree with you about that statement. While there are certainly parents who do, there are plenty of Catholic school parents who do not, and who would be flabbergasted if too much doctrine was "forced" on their kids. I can just hear the complaints if the local Catholic high schools started to firmly, unequivocally, clearly teach about the evil of contraception, irregular marriages, cohabitation etc. I've read instances where pastors have required families in the parish school to attend mass weekly, and raised a firestorm. All too many people use Catholic schools because they are cheap private schools, not because they really want their kids taught Catholicism.
Denise said…
I had no qualms about sending my children to public schools here in Northern Virginia because from what I could see, the Catholic high schools were not much more than prep schools. Their Catholic identity was lacking. My experience has been that families that send their kids to Catholic schools are no more likely to attend Mass than the public school Catholic families. I will say that the new high school, John Paul the Great, looks very promising. Maybe it marks the beginning of a turn around.

That is why I admire Archbishop Chaput and Fr. Breslin. They are making Catholic identity a priority. They are saying if you want to go to a Catholic school you have to be willing to support Catholic teaching.

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