Wednesday September 8, 2010

Massachusetts Catholic Diocese Fires ‘Married’ Lesbian School Employee

By Kathleen Gilbert

SPRINGFIELD, Massachusetts, September 8, 2010 ( – The Catholic diocese of Springfield has come under fire for effectively terminating a former dean and athletic director at a local Catholic high school after she got “married” to her lesbian partner in August.

Massachusetts is one of a handful of U.S. states that recognize same-sex “marriage.”

Christine Judd resigned her position at Cathedral High School on Friday. “I was given a choice of termination or resignation,” Judd told “I’m hurt, but I wish nothing but the best for Cathedral, its students, the parents, the athletic teams, administration and faculty.” Judd, however, also said that she “was hoping that my loyalty, my professionalism the last 12 years would supersede the current hypocrisy that has already been shown with the Diocese of Springfield.”

The Sisters of St. Joseph, who run the school, “never asked me any questions,” said Judd.

Although a Friday report indicated that Judd was considering legal action against the school, Judd told in a Saturday report that she had given up that idea, but may pursue a case against the tipster who informed the diocese of Judd’s “marriage.”

A group of about 40 students and parents picketed outside St. Michael’s cathedral on Sunday to protest the termination. In addition, Jarrett Barrios, president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLADD), said in a statement that the event represents the “concrete harms gay and lesbian people face across the nation.”

Diocese spokesperson Mark Dupont told that Judd’s resignation was made based upon guidelines that Judd herself freely submitted to as an employee at the diocesan-run high school. Although Dupont declined to expand upon the circumstances of Judd’s resignation as a private employment matter, he did not dispute Judd’s account.

The diocese’s employee handbook states: “Whenever, by public example, an employee engages in or espouses conduct, which contravenes the doctrine and teaching of the Church, such employee may, at the sole discretion of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Springfield, be subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.”

“We place the same expectations on every member of all our faculty who work in our schools,” said Dupont. “It’s our expectation that if any individual in our system can no longer live up to those terms, we’re not critical of that, but we would expect them to come forward and make that known to us. … [Judd] wasn’t just a teacher or staff member, she was in a leadership position in the school, and would have uniquely understood the responsibilities we would have asked of her.”

Dupont said that the diocese was “concerned” with the outcry against the resignation, which he said has “given rise to some religious intolerance of its own type.”

“Accept our teachings or don’t accept our teachings, setting that aside, we believe we have a right to conduct our schools in a manner which is consistent with our teachings,” he said. “The question it begs is, if we look the other way this time, when do you stop looking the other way? And when have you then diluted your values to the point that there is no meaning that resides behind those values anymore?”

Nonetheless, Dupont said he understood the passions of young people who were upset with the departure of Judd, who was a popular figure at the school. “We wish her nothing but the best, and thank her for her 12 years of service,” he said.

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