Gay Teacher Fired from Catholic Prep School for Applying for Marriage License

December 7, 2013

A teacher at a Catholic prep school in Pennsylvania has been fired from his position of twelve years on the same day that he and his partner applied for a marriage license.

Michael Griffin with his partner, Vincent Gianetto

Michael Griffin, who taught French and Spanish at Holy Ghost Preparatory School in Bensalem, a Philadelphia suburb, had been known to faculty and administrators as gay, but that when administrators questioned him about his upcoming marriage, he was fired.  6ABC.com reported on the process of his firing:

“Michael Griffin says he emailed the principal of Holy Ghost Prep earlier in the week saying he may be late Friday, that he was applying for a marriage license. After an in-service day he says he was called into the office of School President Father James McCloskey, along with Principal Jeffrey Danilak.

“Griffin explains, ‘He said, “It’s not really a secret here that you’re gay.” I said, “Correct.” He said, “I assume this is a same sex marriage.” “Yes.” He said if I go through with it, he had no choice but to terminate my position.’ “

NBCPhiladelphia.com reported that McCloskey made a statement on the matter which included the following:

“At a meeting in my office yesterday, teacher Michael Griffin made clear that he obtained a license to marry his same sex partner. Unfortunately, this decision contradicts the terms of his teaching contract at our school, which requires all faculty and staff to follow the teachings of the Church as a condition of their employment. In discussion with Mr. Griffin, he acknowledged that he was aware of this provision, yet he said that he intended to go ahead with the ceremony. Regretfully, we informed Mr. Griffin that we have no choice but to terminate his contract effective immediately.”

Griffin noted that he is angered by how he was treated:

“The school to me has shown their true colors so I don’t know if I… I certainly don’t want to work there again after I’ve seen how they treated me.”

He also told the press that he believes he was fired because the school enforces a code of conduct for teachers which states in part:

“. . . as employees of a Catholic institution, all teachers are expected to uphold lifestyles compatible with the moral teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.”

Regular readers of Bondings 2.0 will know that this firing is just the latest in a rapidly growing trend of firings from Catholic institutions aimed at LGBT people and others who support marriage equality.   What is amazing about these firings is that while they emphasize the Catholic hierarchy’s position on marriage, they totally ignore the Catholic Church’s teachings on non-discrimination, the dignity of work, and respect for all human beings.  The sexual teachings do not and should not trump the social justice teachings.

New Ways Ministry has called upon Catholics to attempt to institute non-discrimination policies in their church institutions such as parishes, schools, and social service agencies.  You  can learn more about how to work towards establishing such policies by clicking here.  Adopting such policies guarantees that LGBT people and their allies will be protected, and it will insure that Catholic social justice principles are upheld.

You can review all the Bondings 2.0 posts about such firings by clicking on “Employment Issues” in the “Categories” section to the right of this post.

Here are the names of people fired over the last two years, with links to more information about their cases:

Mark Krolikowski

Nicholas Coppola

Carla Hale

Erin Macke

Nick Johns

Tim Nelson

William Hudson

Ken Bencomo

Kristen Ostendorf

Tippi McCullough

Nigel Studdart
“John Doe”
Trish Cameron
Michael Fischer
Steav Bates Congdon
Jodi O’Brien
Fr. Owen O’Sullivan, OFM, Cap (see page 5 in link)
Laine Tadlock
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

Catholics Leave Over LGBT Issues, As Bishops Redouble Anti-Equality Work

July 2, 2013

Archbishop Charles Chaput denies Communion to parish activists

A new poll conducted at a Philadelphia-area parish by Villanova University’s Center for the Study of Church Management reveals that LGBT issues are rising in prominence as a reason Catholics leave the Church. Yet, at the same time, members of the hierarchy double-down on their efforts to oppose equality for sexual minorities.

The survey asked 189 non-practicing and former Catholics about their reasons for leaving, producing instructive results for Catholic bishops and clergy struggling to retain parishioners. Scandals around sexual abuse and mishandling of cases was the primary reason, at about seventeen percent of respondents, but this does not reveal current trends. NewsWorks interviewed the poll’s director, Charles Zech of Villanova University, who said:

” ‘People who are going to leave the church over the scandal and the church’s handling of it have already left. So people leaving the church today are leaving for other reasons…A growing reason we found out was the church’s attitude toward homosexuals and gay marriage. A lot of younger people object to the church’s teaching on that.’ “

Catholic support of LGBT rights, especially for equal marriage, is well-documented, but there is little hard data on what the practical implications of this split between Catholics in the pews and their anti-gay leaders. This study suggests not only are the bishops’ policies against marriage equality and LGBT rights harming the directly affected communities, but have wider implications which undermine parish communities. Most leaving do not quit organized religion, but transfer to Protestant communities.

As this new polling is released, the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference is preparing anew to oppose anti-discrimination legislation that would include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes. Pennsylvania is the sole northeast state without LGBT protections written into law on such things as employment and housing, and equality advocates are hoping to change this legislation. NewsWorks reports that representatives of the Conference base their objections in a fear that the Catholic Church would be forced to contradict its beliefs in social services, hospitals, and other institutions.

The Villanova parish study, which will not be made public, names both local issues as well as problems with the Vatican and US bishops as reasons for leaving the Catholic church. Polling director Zech believes local changes, like improved liturgies, could stem the losses. Many troubles are occurring in Philadelphia over parish-based issues, like closures and clustering, that even lead to protests at an immigration Mass recently–and saw Archbishop Charles Chaput deny Communion to three people.

Philadelphia Catholic leadership could withdraw their opposition to simple anti-discrimination legislation that protects the rights of LGBT people to their jobs, homes, and public services. Protecting the dignity of every person, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, is well-rooted in the Catholic tradition and it is why so many Catholics support equality. It is time to focus on creating welcoming communities and building up strong parishes, instead of opposing anti-discrimination laws and denying Communion.   The new polling data show that the bishops’ current course on LGBT issues is a losing proposition.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry


Catholic Sports Camp Program for Gay Men Is a Curve Ball

May 25, 2012

In what can only be described as patently ridiculous and totally absurd, a Catholic organization whose purported goal is to help lesbian and gay people lead celibate lives, is hosting a sports camp for men this weekend, at the Philadelphia Archdiocese’s seminary.

A Philadelphia Inquirer article entitled, “A camp for sports and avoiding gay sex,” reports:

“This weekend a group of men will gather at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary to how learn to throw a spiral, make a three-point shot and hit a long ball — and to resist homosexual urges.

“Courage, a Catholic group that encourages people with same-sex attraction to remain celibate, is holding its 13th annual sports camp in which “men physically compete on the field while enriching their souls through a daily regimen of prayer, confessions, mass, and the Liturgy of the Hours,” according to the group’s website.”

Gareth Thomas: openly gay Welsh rugby player

Members and supporters of Philadelphia’s Peace Advocacy Network planned to protest the program.  Ed Coffin, the Network’s director said in the Inquirer article,

“They think that in offering people with same sex attraction the chance to learn how to play sports they will learn to be manlier. . . .It’s a ludicrous assertion. There are many, many out gay athletes and many gay men who play sports.”

The Courage organization has often mixed their message of celibacy with outdated notions that link sexual orientation with gender stereotypes.  You can read Bondings 2.0′s critique of the ministry in our January 2012 post, “When Courage Fails.”  Courage chapters have sometimes been known to encourage forms of conversion therapy, an approach which the group’s founder, the late Father John Harvey, OSFS, did not promote.  When I met Fr. Harvey at a conference in 1997, I asked him if Courage promoted conversion therapy, and he answered with an axiom from traditional moral theology, “You cannot require what cannot be accomplished.”

In an article in Philadelphia Gay News, Peace Advocacy Network’s Ed Coffin stated:

“The American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association and many other professional mental-health organizations have said not only that conversion therapy doesn’t work but that it can be psychologically damaging. . . .When you’re trying to convert something that can’t be converted, it’s going to have consequences. They’re working to make people feel shameful about what they call a ‘gay lifestyle’ and it’s something that we know can’t be changed.”

A HuffingtonPost article cites testimony posted on Courage’s website from previous sports camp participants.  One comment, from a man named Robert states:

“One time a teammate gave me a sweaty celebratory hug. He was humbly secure in himself, just as he was, selflessly and joyfully showing affection to others. I also liked when one man, whom I’d felt intimidated by, gave me a pat on my belly, meaning ‘way to go!’ His touch made me feel accepted as one of the guys.”

If it were not for the potential psychological damage that a program such as a “sports camp” based on bizarre pseudo-scientific premises and outdated stereotypes might cause, this news would be truly laughable. The fact that faith has been added to the mix makes this news all the more serious.  What’s next?  Baking lessons for lesbians?

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

 

 

 


Lesbian Couple’s Romance Brings Out the Love from Catholic Alumni

February 3, 2012

Megan Edwards and Katie McTurk

The love story of a lesbian couple who are alumni of St. Joseph University, Philadelphia, has touched the hearts of almost 2,000 other alums of the Jesuit university in a Facebook Valentine’s Day contest.

The St. Joseph’s University Alumni Association is running a “How I Met My Hawkmate” Facebook contest in which alums who met while at the school’s campus (called “Hawk Hill” ) were invited to post the story of their romance with photos of themselves.  The couple who received the most “likes” would become the winner.

When Megan Edwards and Katie McTurk submitted their story and photos, they were originally denied entry, and the reason was that “the alumni association claimed the decision was made because the Catholic Church doesn’t recognize same-sex relationships,” according to a news story on NBCPhiladelphia.com.

The couple used Facebook to publicize their exclusion, posting a statement “Attention All SJU Alulmni: All Alumni Are Not Considered Equal.”   Almost immediately, the alumni association’s Facebook page started receiving notes of protest from other alums.

Late in the afternoon on February 2nd, the alumni association posted the couple’s story and picture, and within an hour at had over 600 “likes” on the contest’s Facebook page.  At 10:30 a.m. on February 3rd, it had 1,844 “likes,” and that number continues to grow.

McTurk offered a comment on the situation that shows the power of the true Catholic spirit:

” ‘I never thought that many people would support us and really fight for this,’ said MacTurk. ‘I think it attests to the caliber of students that St. Joe’s produces that so many people would really stand up for what they believe is right no matter who the injustice has been committed against.’ “

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

 


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 895 other followers