Bishop places principal on leave after students, parents protest ousting of gay ‘married’ teachers
SEATTLE, Washington, February 28, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — After two Catholic high school teachers who entered same-sex “marriages” resigned, and students and parents protested, the bishop placed the school’s principal on leave until the end of the year.
The Archdiocese of Seattle told LifeSiteNews and other media that the principal, Mike Prato, was put on leave “out of care and concern for him” but did not answer repeated questions from LifeSite about whether he will be paid during this time.
Seattle bishop Paul Etienne initially released a letter on February 19 that began, “With the voluntary resignation of two teachers from Kennedy Catholic High School recently, we as church [sic] have discovered once again the delicate and difficult reality of being one family of faith when our personal opinions create tension in the family of God.”
Etienne then went on to quote Amoris Laetitia and discuss the “complexity of people’s lived situations” while noting that employees who choose to work at Catholic institutions are expected to uphold Church teaching:
The church teaches the fullness of the Gospel. Those who teach in our schools are required to uphold our teaching in the classroom and to model it in their personal lives. We recognize and support the right of each individual to make choices. We also understand that some choices have particular consequences for those who represent the church in an official capacity.
A lawyer for Paul Danforth, who taught English, and Michelle Beattie, who taught physical education, told the dissident National Catholic Reporter her clients resigned “after the archdiocese made clear ‘that continued employment was incompatible with being honest about being gay and engaged.’”
The Catholic Church teaches that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.
“They are contrary to the natural law,” the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches. “They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved” (CCC 2357). The Church distinguishes among individuals, attractions, and actions.
“This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of [those who hold it] a trial,” the Catechism continues. “They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition” (CCC 2358).
Catholic schools ‘seem increasingly to be serving families who don’t want it’
Students staged a walk-out protesting the resignations, which the archdiocese maintains were voluntary, on February 18. Prato being placed on leave was announced on February 25. Also on February 25, Etienne released another letter, which quoted Pope Francis on “dialogue.”
“It is with a pastor’s heart that I am writing to you,” Etienne wrote. “I have heard your voices and read your letters — from teachers, parents, alumni, and even an open video letter from a student representative. Voicing your care and concerns is not only a testament to how much you support your school community, but is also an important step ...”
Hearing first-hand the hurt, frustration and confusion was both helpful and challenging. I sincerely appreciate everyone’s honesty and feedback.
In times like this, respectful dialogue is required so we can navigate our way forward. It is abundantly clear to me that our Catholic schools are serving a much broader community than in the past. We as church [sic] need to understand that people in our culture are coming to our Catholic schools with various expectations. However, we must remind everyone why Catholic schools exist. Our primary mission is to form people with the mind and heart of Jesus Christ.
“When such a large number of students and parents protest a Catholic school for upholding the most basic Catholic teachings, it raises serious questions about what we’re doing in Catholic education,” Patrick Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society, told LifeSiteNews. “We seem increasingly to be serving families who don’t want it. The Church’s purpose in Catholic education should be to evangelize non-Catholics or to form young Catholics. Either way, it requires forthright teaching and courageous witness to the faith.”
“It’s unclear why the school [principal] was placed on leave. Sadly some will be eager to claim that the Church is capitulating to protests that are, at their core, protests against the Church’s beliefs about marriage and sexuality,” continued Reilly.
“What needs to be clear is that no one who is engaged in persistent sexual or marital immorality, especially when it is apparent to students and families, can fulfill the duties of a Catholic educator. A person’s behavior is as influential and potentially scandalous as teaching.”
At least two state politicians have weighed in. Former Seattle mayor Greg Nickels said, “Any other employer would be breaking the law to fire two well-qualified employees simply because they are gay,” conflating sexual proclivities with the choice to enter into a public sodomitical union.
“It is wrong and the school should be held to account,” he said.
State senator Joe Nguyen (D-34), who graduated from Kennedy High School and is apparently friends with Danforth, the homosexual ex–English teacher, had harsh words for the Church: “Institutions like the Archdiocese of Seattle are on the wrong side of history and this will be a moment they'll look back on in shame.”
As is often the case when the conduct of employees of Catholic institutions is scrutinized, the pro-LGBT side accidentally illustrated a point that orthodox Catholics would make — that employees of Catholic institutions frequently flout various Church moral teachings. One mother of a student complained to Seattle PI “that divorced people, those divorced and remarried, and people living together outside of marriage can be found teaching at Catholic schools — and they are not forced to resign.”
The head of nearby Seattle Preparatory School, run by the Jesuits, responded to the situation by “stressing the right to privacy of faculty and staff, and saying that in 22 years of Catholic school administration he has never terminated an employee.”
Citing the beginning of Lent, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Seattle told LifeSiteNews that Etienne was unavailable for an interview.
Contact information for respectful communications:
Bishop Paul Etienne
Archdiocese of Seattle
710 9th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98104