Ben Johnson


Catholic students protest Seattle archdiocese for firing vice principal in same-sex ‘marriage’

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson

SEATTLE, January 7, 2014 ( – Students at Catholic schools in the Seattle area have protested against the archdiocese for encouraging a vice principal who entered a gay “marriage” to resign.

Mark Zmuda, 38, had been an administrator and swim coach at Eastside Catholic School in Sammamish, Washington, for about 18 months when officials discovered he had “married” his boyfriend.

The school's president and CEO Sister Mary Tracy said that she met Zmuda, and “although he was disappointed, we reached an understanding that the correct action was for him to submit his resignation.” She added that Archbishop Peter Sartain personally “agreed with the decision.”

On December 19, Zmuda tendered his resignation, effective December 20. He then told his side of the story in an interview recorded alongside “husband” Dana Jergens inside Good Samaritan Episcopal Church.

“To set the record straight, I was terminated,” Zmuda said.

Sister Mary Tracy wrote in a statement that Zmuda's account had “contributed to confusion” on the matter, while citing the “confidentiality required in personnel matters.” An inquiry to Archdiocese of Seattle Communications Director Greg Magnoni was not immediately returned.

Zmuda told the student who interviewed him that his fellow Catholic “faculty stood behind me,” and “talked about different options to try to keep me. They talked about possibly reaching out to the Pope. 'Has the Pope heard about this?'”

He said the school offered to let him keep his job if he got “divorced.”

“Same-sex 'marriage' – they're against that. But I thought another teaching they were against is divorce,” he said. “They also offered for me to have a same-sex...commitment ceremony if I were willing to get a divorce.”

The Catholic Church teaches that the proper form for the Sacrament of Marriage must include a man and a woman, so no marriage exists between Zmuda and Jergens. Christianity also teaches that homosexuality is immoral.

When Zmuda announced the firing at a student assembly, students organized a mass demonstration asking the school to allow him to stay on.

“This is another example of people using the media to try and drum up public sentiments that the Catholic Church is anti-gay,” John Mulvey, policy analyst at the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, told LifeSiteNews. “The rights of religious institutions over employment decisions have been sustained by the Supreme Court. The Church has the right and responsibility to ensure that all of its employees practice the values that it teaches.”

Other experts agreed. “A contract is a contract, and Catholic is Catholic,” Patrick J. Reilly, who analyzes Catholic education trends as president of The Cardinal Newman Society, told “It seems that Eastside has been most respectful and generous to Mr. Zmuda in how they handled the situation, but it would be ridiculous for a Catholic school to compromise clear Catholic teachings.”

Zmuda appears to have admitted he encouraged students to do that very thing. In his interview, he said students “were taught in our school Catholic values to love and respect, and to challenge the Catholic teachings.”

“There’s nothing admirable in encouraging students to challenge Catholic teaching,” Reilly told LifeSiteNews. “That’s encouraging them to deny truth – the very basis of our Catholic faith.”

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

Local TV station KIRO obtained a recording of Zmuda telling students at an assembly that he knew that he had violated Catholic teachings but believed the minors were more accepting than their parents or their Church. “I just want to make one brief statement and that is to tell you that yes, I am gay. Yes, I did get 'married' this past summer and I know it is against the Catholic teaching,” he said. “I think a lot of you guys are raised in a generation that is more open and acceptable to things that are legal now in the state of Washington.”

His questioning of the traditional teaching on marriage appears to have worked. Caelan Colburn, a student who organized the outdoor protest on December 20, said, “The administration made it very clear that they care more about following the Archdiocese than doing the right thing,” according to a report by Al Jazeera America.

“The way [students] stand up for their beliefs is just amazing and fantastic,” Zmuda remarked after the rally. “I've very humbled by the fact that I feel this overwhelming what they call agape love” from the kids.

Seattle's mayor-elect, Ed Murray, criticized the school's faith-based decision at the event. Murray, a homosexual Catholic Democrat who “married” his boyfriend Michael Shiosaki at an Episcopal church last August, said Zmuda's firing violated “fairness in the workplace.”

A petition on the website of the far-Left group calls on the school to “[d]isregard the Catholic Church's policy on gay marriage.”

“The churches [sic] stance on homosexuality is medieval,” the petition states.

Earlier last month, Holy Ghost Preparatory School in the Philadelphia area fired Michael Griffin after he entered a same-sex “marriage.” In February, the assistant principal of Cincinnati's Purcell Marian High School, Mike Moroski, was fired for publicly proclaiming his support for gay “marriage,” contradicting the Christian doctrine of marriage. In August, a California Catholic school fired an English teacher for getting “married” to another man.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a global homosexual pressure group funded in part by George Soros, said the fact that Catholic schools have fired 15 teachers in two years for violating the faith on homosexuality shows "a disturbing trend."

But Reilly said the First Amendment allows parochial schools to ask teachers to live up to their own religious teachings.

“A Catholic school cannot be Catholic if it doesn’t regard Catholic teaching to be true,” he said.

Share this article

Steve Jalsevac Steve Jalsevac Follow Steve

Today’s chuckle: Rubio, Fiorina and Carson pardon a Thanksgiving turkey

Steve Jalsevac Steve Jalsevac Follow Steve
By Steve Jalsevac

A little bit of humour now and then is a good thing.

Happy Thanksgiving to all our American readers.

Share this article

Featured Image
Building of the European Court of Human Rights.
Lianne Laurence


BREAKING: Europe’s top human rights court slaps down German ban on pro-life leafletting

Lianne Laurence
By Lianne Laurence

STRASBOURG, France, November 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that a German regional court violated a pro-life activist’s freedom of expression when it barred him from leafleting in front of an abortion center.

It further ruled the German court’s order that Klaus Gunter Annen not list the names of two abortion doctors on his website likewise violated the 64-year-old pro-life advocate’s right to freedom of expression.

The court’s November 26 decision is “a real moral victory,” says Gregor Puppinck, director of the Strasbourg-based European Center for Law and Justice, which intervened in Annen’s case. “It really upholds the freedom of speech for pro-life activists in Europe.”

Annen, a father of two from Weinam, a mid-sized city in the Rhine-Neckar triangle, has appealed to the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights at least two times before, Puppinck told LifeSiteNews.

“This is the first time he made it,” he said, noting that this time around, Annen had support from the ECLJ and Alliance Defense Fund and the German Pro-life Federation (BVL). “I think he got more support, better arguments and so I think this helped.”

The court also ordered the German government to pay Annen costs of 13,696.87 EUR, or 14,530 USD.

Annen started distributing pamphlets outside a German abortion center ten years ago, ECLJ stated in a press release.

His leaflets contained the names and addresses of the two abortionists at the center, declared they were doing “unlawful abortions,” and stated in smaller print that, “the abortions were allowed by the German legislators and were not subject to criminal liability.”

Annen’s leaflets also stated that, “The murder of human beings in Auschwitz was unlawful, but the morally degraded NS State allowed the murder of innocent people and did not make it subject to criminal liability.” They referred to Annen’s website,, which listed a number of abortionists, including the two at the site he was leafleting.

In 2007, a German regional court barred Annen from pamphleteering in the vicinity of the abortion center, and ordered him to drop the name of the two abortion doctors from his website.

But the European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that the German courts had "failed to strike a fair balance between [Annen’s] right to freedom of expression and the doctor’s personality rights.”

The Court stated that, “there can be no doubt as to the acute sensitivity of the moral and ethical issues raised by the question of abortion or as to the importance of the public interest at stake.”

That means, stated ECLJ, that “freedom of expression in regard to abortion shall enjoy a full protection.”

ECLJ stated that the court noted Annen’s leaflets “made clear that the abortions performed in the clinic were not subject to criminal liability. Therefore, the statement that ‘unlawful abortions’ were being performed in the clinic was correct from a legal point of view.”

As for the Holocaust reference, the court stated that, “the applicant did not – at least not explicitly – equate abortion with the Holocaust.”  Rather, the reference was “a way of creating awareness of the more general fact that law might diverge from morality.”

The November 26 decision “is a quite good level of protection of freedom of speech for pro-life people,” observed Puppinck.

First, the European Court of Human Rights has permitted leafleting “in the direct proximate vicinity of the clinic, so there is no issue of zoning,” he told LifeSiteNews. “And second, the leaflets were mentioning the names of the doctors, and moreover, were mentioning the issue of the Holocaust, which made them quite strong leaflets.”

“And the court protected that.”

Annen has persevered in his pro-life awareness campaign through the years despite the restraints on his freedom.

“He did continue, and he did adapt,” Puppinck told LifeSiteNews. “He kept his freedom of speech as much as he could, but he continued to be sanctioned by the German authorities, and each time he went to the court of human rights. And this time, he won.”

ECLJ’s statement notes that “any party” has three months to appeal the November 26 decision.

However, as it stands, the European Court of Human Rights’s ruling affects “all the national courts,” noted Puppinck, and these will now “have to protect freedom of speech, recognize the freedom of speech for pro-lifers.”

“In the past, the courts have not always been very supportive of the freedom of speech of pro-life,” he said, so the ruling is “significant.”

As for Annen’s pro-life ministry, Pubbinck added: “He can continue to go and do, and I’m sure that he does, because he always did.”  

Share this article

Featured Image
A vibrant church in Africa. Pierre-Yves Babelon /
Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

, ,

‘Soft racism’: German Bishops’ website attributes African Catholics’ strong faith to simplemindedness

Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete
By Pete Baklinski

GERMANY, November 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) --  The only reason the Catholic Church is growing in Africa is because the people have a “rather low level” of education and accept “simple answers to difficult questions” involving marriage and sexuality, posited an article on the official website of the German Bishops' Conference posted yesterday. The article targeted particularly Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea, the Vatican's prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and ardent defender of Catholic tradition.

First Things blogger Leroy Huizenga, who translated a portion of the article, criticized the article's view as “soft racism.”

In his article, titled “The Romantic, Poor Church,” editor Björn Odendahl writes: 

So also in Africa. Of course the Church is growing there. It grows because the people are socially dependent and often have nothing else but their faith. It grows because the educational situation there is on average at a rather low level and the people accept simple answers to difficult questions (of faith) [sic]. Answers like those that Cardinal Sarah of Guinea provides. And even the growing number of priests is a result not only of missionary power but also a result of the fact that the priesthood is one of the few possibilities for social security on the dark continent.

Huizenga said that such an article has no place on a bishops’ conference website. 

“We all know that the German Bishops' Conference is one of the most progressive in the world. But it nevertheless beggars belief that such a statement would appear on the Conference's official website, with its lazy slander of African Christians and priests as poor and uneducated (Odendahl might as well have added ‘easy to command’) and its gratuitous swipe at Cardinal Sarah,” he wrote. 

“Natürlich progressives could never be guilty of such a sin and crime, but these words sure do suggest soft racism, the racism of elite white Western paternalism,” he added. 

African prelates have gained a solid reputation for being strong defenders of Catholic sexual morality because of their unwavering orthodox input into the recently concluded Synod on the Family in Rome. 

At one point during the Synod, Cardinal Robert Sarah urged Catholic leaders to recognize as the greatest modern enemies of the family what he called the twin “demonic” “apocalyptic beasts” of “the idolatry of Western freedom” and “Islamic fundamentalism.”

STORY: Cardinal Danneels warns African bishops to avoid ‘triumphalism’

“What Nazi-Fascism and Communism were in the 20th century, Western homosexual and abortion ideologies and Islamic fanaticism are today,” he said during his speech at the Synod last month. 

But African prelates’ adherence to orthodoxy has earned them enemies, especially from the camp of Western prelates bent on forming the Catholic Church in their own image and likeness, not according to Scripture, tradition, and the teaching magisterium of the Church. 

During last year’s Synod, German Cardinal Walter Kasper went as far as stating that the voice of African Catholics in the area of Church teaching on homosexuality should simply be dismissed.

African cardinals “should not tell us too much what we have to do,” he said in an October 2014 interview with ZENIT, adding that African countries are "very different, especially about gays.” 

Earlier this month Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels, instead of praising Africa for its vibrant and flourishing Catholicism, said that African prelates will one day have to look to Europe to get what he called “useful tips” on how to deal with “secularization” and “individualism.” 

The statement was criticized by one pro-family advocate as “patronizing of the worst kind” in light of the facts that numerous European churches are practically empty, vocations to the priesthood and religious life are stagnant, and the Catholic faith in Europe, especially in Belgium, is overall in decline.

Share this article


Customize your experience.

Login with Facebook