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

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson
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SEATTLE, January 7, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – 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 LifeSiteNews.com. “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.”

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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 MoveOn.org 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.

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Lisa Bourne

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Pressure mounts as Catholic Relief Services fails to act on VP in gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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Rick Estridge, Catholic Relief Services' Vice President of Overseas Finance, is in a same-sex "marriage," public records show. Twitter

BALTIMORE, MD, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Nearly a week after news broke that a Catholic Relief Services vice president had contracted a homosexual “marriage” while also publicly promoting homosexuality on social media in conflict with Church teaching, the US Bishops international relief agency has taken no apparent steps to address the matter and is also not talking.

CRS Vice President of Overseas Finance Rick Estridge entered into a homosexual “marriage” in Maryland the same month in 2013 that he was promoted by CRS to vice president, public records show.

Despite repeated efforts at a response, CRS has not acknowledged LifeSiteNews’ inquiries during the week. And the agency told ChurchMilitant.com Thursday that no action had been taken beyond discussion of the situation and CRS would have no further comment.

"Nothing has changed,” CRS Senior Manager for Communications Tom said. “No further statement will be made."

LifeSiteNews first contacted CRS for a response prior to the April 20 release of the report and did not receive a reply, however Estridge’s Facebook and LinkeIn profiles were then removed just prior to the report’s release.

CRS also did not acknowledge LifeSiteNews’ follow-up inquiry later in the week.

“Having an executive who publicly celebrates a moral abomination shows the ineffectiveness of CRS' Catholic identity training,” Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn told LifeSiteNews. “How many others who hate Catholic moral teaching work at CRS?”

CRS did admit it was aware Estridge was in a “same-sex civil marriage” to Catholic News Agency (CNA) Monday afternoon, and confirmed he was VP of Overseas Finance and had been with CRS for 16 years.

“At this point we are in deliberations on this matter,” Price told CNA that day.

ChurchMilitant.com also reported that according to its sources, it was a well-known fact at CRS headquarters in Baltimore that Estridge was in a homosexual “marriage.” 

“There is no way CRS didn't know one of its executives entered into a mock-marriage until we broke the story,” Hichborn said. “The implication is clear; CRS top brass had no problem with having an executive so deliberately flouting Catholic moral teaching.”

“The big question is,” Hichborn continued, “what other morally repugnant matters is CRS comfortable with?”

While the wait continues for the Bishops’ relief organization to address the matter, those behind the report and other critics of prior instances of CRS involvement in programs and groups that violate Church principles continue to call for a thorough and independent review of the agency programs and personnel.

“How long should it take to call an employee into your office, tell him that his behavior is incompatible with the mission of the organization, and ask for his resignation?” asked Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher. “About thirty minutes, I would say.”

“The Catholic identity of CRS is at stake,” Hichborn stated. “If CRS does nothing, then there is no way faithful Catholics can trust the integrity of CRS's programs or desire to make its Catholicity preeminent.” 

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Thousands of marriage activists gathered in D.C. June 19, 2014 for the 2nd March for Marriage. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
The Editors

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Watch the March for Marriage online—only at LifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- At noon on Saturday, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and dozens of cosponsors, coalition partners, and speakers will launch the third annual March for Marriage. Thousands of people are expected to take place in this important event to show the support real marriage has among the American people.

As the sole media sponsor of the March, LifeSiteNews is proud to exclusively livestream the March. Click here to see the rally at noon Eastern Time near the U.S. Capitol, and the March to the Supreme Court at 1:00 Eastern Time.

And don't forget to pray that God's Will is done on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court hears arguments about marriage!

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Religious beliefs’ against abortion ‘have to be changed’

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By Ben Johnson

NEW YORK CITY, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Speaking to an influential gathering in New York City on Thursday, Hillary Clinton declared that “religious beliefs” that condemn "reproductive rights," “have to be changed.”

“Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health,” Hillary told the Women in the World Summit yesterday.

Liberal politicians use “reproductive health” as a blanket term that includes abortion. However, Hillary's reference echoes National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill's op-ed from last May that called abortion “an essential measure to prevent the heartbreak of infant mortality.”

The Democratic presidential hopeful added that governments should throw the power of state coercion behind the effort to redefine traditional religious dogmas.

“Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources, and political will,” she said. “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

The line received rousing applause at the feminist conference, hosted in Manhattan's Lincoln Center by Tina Brown.

She also cited religious-based objections to the HHS mandate, funding Planned Parenthood, and the homosexual and transgender agenda as obstacles that the government must defeat.

“America moves ahead when all women are guaranteed the right to make their own health care choices, not when those choices are taken away by an employer like Hobby Lobby,” she said. The Supreme Court ruled last year that closely held corporations had the right to opt out of the provision of ObamaCare requiring them to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization to employees with no co-pay – a mandate that violates the teachings of the Catholic Church and other Christian bodies.

Clinton lamented that “there are those who offer themselves as leaders...who would defund the country's leading provider of family planning,” Planned Parenthood, “and want to let health insurance companies once again charge women just because of our gender.”

“We move forward when gay and transgender women are embraced...not fired from good jobs because of who they love or who they are,” she added.

It is not the first time the former first lady had said that liberal social policies should displace religious views. In a December 2011 speech in Geneva, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said perhaps the “most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens.” These objections, she said, are “not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation.”

While opinions on homosexuality are “still evolving,” in time “we came to learn that no [religious] practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.”

Her views, if outside the American political mainstream, have been supported by the United Nations. The UN Population Fund stated in its 2012 annual report that religious objections to abortion-inducing drugs had to be overcome. According to the UNFPA report, “‘duty-bearers’ (governments and others)” have a responsibility to assure that all forms of contraception – including sterilization and abortion-inducing ‘emergency contraception’ – are viewed as acceptable – “But if they are not acceptable for cultural, religious or other reasons, they will not be used.”

Two years later, the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child instructed the Vatican last February that the Catholic Church should amend canon law “relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services may be permitted.”

At Thursday's speech, Hillary called the legal, state-enforced implementation of feminist politics “the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” which must be accomplished “not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”

“These are not just women's fights. These have to be America's fights and the world's fights,” she said. “There's still much to be done in our own country, much more to be done around the world, but I'm confident and optimistic that if we get to work, we will get it done together.”

American critics called Clinton's suggestion that a nation founded upon freedom of religion begin using state force to change religious practices unprecedented.

“Never before have we seen a presidential candidate be this bold about directly confronting the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion,” said Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

“In one sense, this shows just how extreme the pro-abortion caucus actually is,” Ed Morrissey writes at HotAir.com. “Running for president on the basis of promising to use the power of government to change 'deep seated cultural codes [and] religious beliefs' might be the most honest progressive slogan in history.”

He hoped that, now that she had called for governments to change religious doctrines, “voters will now see the real Hillary Clinton, the one who dismisses their faith just the same as Obama did, and this time publicly rather than in a private fundraiser.”

Donohue asked Hillary “to take the next step and tell us exactly what she plans to do about delivering on her pledge. Not only would practicing Catholics like to know, so would Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and all those who value life from conception to natural death.”

You may watch Hillary's speech below.

Her comments on religion begin at approximately 9:00. 

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