U.S. Markets closed

Indiana Catholic School Fires Gay Teacher, Caving To Archdiocese

An Indiana Catholic high school has fired a married gay teacher to remain within the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

The decision means Cathedral High School in northeast Indianapolis will avoid the punishment the neighboring Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School received just last week for following its conscience and refusing to fire its own gay and married employee. 

Cathedral High School’s board of directors said in a letter on Sunday that if the school kept the gay teacher on staff, it would lose its nonprofit status, its diocesan priests and its ability to offer the Eucharist, a central Christian rite, among other consequences.

Leaders said they hoped the gay teacher’s termination won’t “dishearten” students.

“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,” the letter stated. “We want you to know that we respect an individual’s conflict between teaching and their conscience.”

While official Catholic doctrine denounces same-sex marriage, the church also has a robust theology regarding conscience and an individual’s ability to discern between good and evil. Following their own consciences on the matter, a significant number of American Catholics have become more accepting of same-sex marriages, according to a 2017 survey by the Public Religion Research Institute. Younger Catholics are especially likely to be supportive ― 80% of white Catholics and 77% of Hispanic Catholics between the ages of 18 and 29 favor allowing lesbian and gay couples to legally marry.

Archbishop Charles Thompson became leader of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis in 2017.  (Photo: Michael Conroy / ASSOCIATED PRESS)

It’s unclear when the archdiocese ordered the schools to fire the teachers, but Cathedral High School says it had been in dialogue with Indianapolis Archbishop Charles Thompson for the past 22 months before coming to its “agonizing decision.”

Last week, Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School announced its own decision to split from the Indianapolis archdiocese. In a letter to its community on Thursday, Brebeuf leaders said following the archdiocese’s order to dismiss a “highly capable and qualified teacher” would violate “our informed conscience on this particular matter.” The Jesuit school, part of the religious order’s Midwest province, was also concerned about a local archdiocese interfering in an employment decision that it believes should be made by leaders within its order.

As a result of Brebeuf’s stance, Thompson announced that the school would no longer be recognized as a Catholic institution that is part of his archdiocese.

“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 about Brebeuf last week. “The Archdiocese of Indianapolis recognizes all teachers, guidance counselors and administrators as ministers.”

The Archdiocese of Indianapolis founded Cathedral High School in 1918. At the time, the archdiocese asked the Brothers of Holy Cross, a Catholic religious order, to serve as faculty at the school. The school is still affiliated with the Brothers of Holy Cross. 

Cathedral’s board of directors said that it respects Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School’s decision “as they also navigate this painful time.” But while Brebeuf is sponsored by the Jesuit religious order, the letter suggests that Cathedral relies heavily on its local archdiocese and couldn’t react to its decrees the same way.

Cathedral’s board of directors’ letter said the school is offering “prayers and love” to the fired teacher, students, faculty and Thompson.

“We are committed to educating our students in the tenets of the Catholic faith with an emphasis on the Holy Cross tradition,” the board said in its letter. “Therefore, in order to remain a Catholic Holy Cross School, Cathedral must follow the direct guidance given to us by Archbishop Thompson and separate from the teacher.”

Also on HuffPost

Christian Musicians Come Out As Queer

Being out in the Christian music industry could cost you your career. But in recent years, a number of queer Christian artists have taken that difficult step anyway. British rock star Vicky Beeching (pictured here), Everyday Sunday's Trey Pearson, and country singer Ty Herndon are a few.

Christians Rally With Other Faith Groups For Transgender Rights

In 2016, progressive religious activists strongly opposed North Carolina's HB2 bill, which tried to force people to use the bathroom of the gender they were assigned at birth. In 2017, more than 1,800 religious leaders from a variety of denominations signed an amicus brief in support of Gavin Grimm (pictured here), a transgender boy who was banned from using the boys' restroom at his school.

A New, Inclusive Christian College Campus Ministry Is Born

In May 2016, Christian activists formed a new campus ministry called Incarnation. The group was founded on principles of racial equality and LGBTQ inclusion. Incarnation has chapters on at least five campuses across the country and has partnered with four other organizations.

The Episcopal Church Refuses To Back Down On Equality

In 2015, the bishops of the Episcopal Church decided to allow clergy members to perform same-sex weddings. The church defended that decision in 2016 in front of its international umbrella organization, the Anglican Communion. That resulted in a three-year suspension from the Anglican Communion -- but the Episcopalians didn't back down. 
Michael Curry, the Episcopal Church’s presiding bishop, said after the suspension that “Many of us have committed ourselves and our church to being ‘a house of prayer for all people,’ as the Bible says, [where] all are truly welcome."

The Rev. Karen Oliveto Becomes The Methodist Church's First Openly Gay Bishop

Bishop Karen Oliveto became the United Methodist Church's first married lesbian bishop in 2016. The denomination's top court later found that she was in violation of a church law that bars clergy who are “self-avowed practicing homosexuals" but decided not to remove her from her post. Although she may be suspended or forced to retire in the future, Oliveto remains sure that her presence "changes the conversation."

"It's no longer an issue. It's about people,"
 she told Religion News Service.

A Pastor Who Conducted His Gay Son's Wedding Is 'Refrocked'

Rev. Frank Schaefer, a United Methodist Church minister, had his ministerial credentials revoked in 2013 after he presided over his gay son's wedding. Schaefer continued to speak out and in 2014, an appeals committee reinstated him as a minister.

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Embraces LGBT-Inclusive Definition Of Marriage

Since 2014, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), America’s largest Presbyterian denomination, has allowed its pastors to officiate same-sex ceremonies. In March 2015, the church adopted a more inclusive definition of marriage in its constitution, describing it as a union “between two people.”

Ex-Gay Ministry Exodus International Shuts Down

Exodus International was a Christian ministry that promoted conversion therapy, which attempts to alter a person's sexuality or gender identity to fit with heterosexual or cisgender norms. The harmful practice has been thoroughly discredited by psychologists and medical experts, but it was peddled by Exodus International for 37 years. In 2013, the organization's president issued an apology for the harm it has caused to queer people and announced that the ministry was shutting down. Although other conversion therapy groups pledged to take up the mantle, Exodus International's closure was a pivotal moment for conservative Christians in America, and since then, many conservative leaders have actually denounced conversion therapy.

The Chicago Consultation Meets In Africa

The Chicago Consultation is a group of Episcopal and Anglican clergy and lay people who work toward full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians in the Anglican Communion. In 2015, the group had its third meeting in Africa, this time in Elmina, Ghana. The Rev. Broderick Greer, an Episcopal priest and queer theologian, described the important work of this group in an email to HuffPost. 
"Every day, I heard a new story about the ingenious ways they were resisting stigma around HIV/AIDS, LGBTQ visibility, and equitable access to health care. People from five different countries told stories of courage and resilience motivated by a nagging sense that their full humanity should and will be affirmed. The small scale and quiet setting of the gathering is indicative of the manner in which social transformation often takes place: over a drink, in a huddle, or elbow-to-elbow."

Mormons March At Pride

Mormons Building Bridges brings together members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who want to show support for the queer community. In 2012, this group marched at Utah Pride for the first time. For John Gustav-Wrathal, a gay Mormon activist, this was an iconic moment. 

"Since then, there have been some crushing, traumatizing moments as well. ... Most of the hope has come from queer Mormons themselves. Attendance at Affirmation conferences has quadrupled since 2012," he told HuffPost. "LGBT Mormons are coming together in a spectacular way and finding new ways to provide mutual support and engage with their faith."

A Gay Couple Become The Pastors Of A Historic D.C. Church

The Calvary Baptist Church in Washington hired Sally Sarratt and Maria Swearingen as the leaders of their 155-year-old congregation in 2017. The Baptist ministers told HuffPost their mission is "to sit at bedsides, to march for justice, to proclaim ‘belovedness’ when the world (sometimes even the religious world) proclaims ‘otherness,’ and to set the table of hospitality for those who need it most."

Transgender Pastors Celebrate Mass In Cuba

As part of a conference on queer theology in 2017, three pastors from Brazil, Canada and the United States flew into Cuba to lead an LGBTQ-friendly worship service. The mass is believed to be a first for Cuba. 
One participant, a 26-year-old Cuban trans woman named Malu Duardo, told Reuters, "I leave with having learnt a lot of things I can share with other trans, in particular that there is a God for everyone."

Love HuffPost? Become a founding member of HuffPost Plus today.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost.