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.