HARRISBURG, PA, December 17, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A Pennsylvania lawmaker has proposed a bill that would forbid Catholic schools from enforcing the Catholic church's teachings on homosexuality in parochial schools, a measure its critics are calling “ludicrous” and “dangerous to basic human freedoms.”
The bill gained new life after Holy Ghost Preparatory School in the Philadelphia suburb of Bensalem fired Michael Griffin, who taught French and Italian. Griffin lives in New Jersey, where a county superior court judge legalized same-sex “marriage” in September, a decision that stood after Republican Governor Chris Christie dropped his appeal. After the ruling, Griffin and his homosexual partner contracted a same-sex “marriage.”
Headmaster and school President Father James McCloskey noted that Griffin's contract “requires all faculty and staff to follow the teachings of the Church as a condition of their employment.”
The Catholic Church teaches that homosexual acts, as all sexual acts outside marriage, are immoral, and homosexual activity is “intrinsically disordered.” Marriage is the lifelong and unbreakable union of one man and one woman.
Fr. McCloskey says that when he confronted the teacher, Griffin “acknowledged that he was aware of this provision” of his contract, “yet he said that he intended to go ahead with the ceremony.” The school said it let Griffin go “with regret.”
But if Democratic State Senator Daylin Leach has his way, that would never happen again in the Keystone State.
Leach would amend the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act to forbid what he says is such “discrimination” against homosexuals. His bill has no exemption for religious employers, such as Catholic or Christian schools – even if the teachers signed a contract agreeing to model the church's teachings for their students.
“If it was illegal to fire a gay person, it would be illegal to fire someone even if they signed a contract saying, 'You can fire me because I'm gay.' Those sorts of contracts are usually rendered unenforceable by this type of law,” Leach told Pennsylvania media.
Critics say the bill is an attempt to suppress all opposition to homosexuality, even when grounded in bedrock religious doctrines protected by the First Amendment.
“Senator Leach’s bill to legislate away morality even within the walls of a Catholic school is as ludicrous as it is dangerous to basic human freedoms,” Patrick J. Reilly, president of the Catholic education watchdog organization The Cardinal Newman Society, told LifeSiteNews.com.
“The facts of the case are quite clear. Holy Ghost did not fire a teacher because of same-sex attraction,” he said. “They fired him because of his public and serious sin, which has scandalized students whose families are privately paying for Catholic formation.”
Others said the bill would revolutionize an entire sector of jurisprudence.
John Mulvey, a policy analyst at the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, told LifeSiteNews, “Contract law is black and white.” “Passing this bill would open the floodgates to every other group who wants an exemption from contract law.”
“The solution is simple,” Mulvey said. “Don't sign a contract if you have no intention of abiding by it.”
“This is simply a case of political grandstanding,” Mulvaney told LifeSiteNews.
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The state's Catholic Conference promises to lobby against the bill offered by Leach, an ardent supporter of abortion-on-demand who is running for U.S. Congress to fill the seat of Rep. Allyson Schwartz, a former director of a Planned Parenthood abortion facility in Philadelphia.
Francis Viglietta of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference said the law “in effect would limit our ability to serve the people of this commonwealth in ways that are consistent with Catholic teaching.”
Amy B. Hill, communications director for the state's Catholics, called the bill “an inappropriate use of governmental power to coerce religious institutions into abandoning their faith.”
Nonetheless, well-financed advocacy organizations have attempted to chip away at religious schools' ability to follow their faith on homosexuality. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a global homosexual pressure group funded in part by George Soros, said the fact that Catholic schools had fired 15 teachers for violating the faith vis-a-vis homosexuality “a disturbing trend.”