Harrisburg, Pa., Dec 13, 2013 / 02:19 am (CNA).- Legislation introduced in Pennsylvania to prevent discrimination could end up prohibiting Catholic schools from requiring teachers to abide by Catholic teaching, religious freedom advocates in the state are warning.
“The Church has been precise, in its moral teachings, in distinguishing between sexual orientation and sexual behavior. It has condemned all forms of hostility to any individual on the basis of her or his actual or perceived sexual orientation,” Amy B. Hill, communications director of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, told CNA on Dec. 11.
“However, the Church also teaches that sexual activity between persons of the same gender cannot be reconciled with its beliefs and doctrines. It similarly does not condone heterosexual relations outside of marriage.”
A proposed Pennsylvania bill to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation fails to make this distinction, she said.
Supporters of the bill are using controversy over the firing of Michael Griffin, a French and Spanish teacher at Holy Ghost Preparatory School, to advocate for the bill’s passage.
On Dec. 6, the school fired Griffin after he announced his intention to contract a same-sex civil “marriage” with his partner.
The all-boys Catholic school in the Philadelphia suburb of Bensalem, Pa., is independent of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. It is governed by a board composed of lay members and members of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit.
The school’s president, Fr. James McCloskey, said in a Dec. 7 statement that the teacher’s decision was incompatible with the school’s Catholic mission.
“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,” he explained.
Fr. McCloskey said that Griffin had acknowledged that his contract requires adherence to Church teaching but still 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,” he stated.
Griffin told the New York Daily News he had been teaching at the school for 12 years and had been with his partner the same number of years. The 35-year-old teacher is an alumnus of the school. He said administrators and fellow faculty knew he was gay and the school invited his partner to school events.
He and his partner contracted a civil union in 2008. He said he did not discuss his sexuality with students, (Read More)