“Nothing We Can Do” Says Liverpool Archdiocese about Openly Gay Headmaster

Mon Aug 13, 2007 - 12:15 pm EST

By Peter J. Smith

  LIVERPOOL, United Kingdom, August 13, 2007 ( - The Catholic Archdiocese of Liverpool is telling parents and faithful Catholics that it has no power to sack a Catholic headmaster who has entered into a civil partnership with a male teacher.

  The Daily Telegraph first reported that the Catholic Church will take no action against Charles Coyne, the head of St. Cecilia’s Primary School, who has a registered homosexual partnership with Richard Jones, another schoolteacher.

"Legal advice was sought," said an archdiocesan spokesman. "The Church was advised that in this case nothing could be done, despite the fact that the head was acting contrary to Church teaching."

  The spokesman said that senior church leaders - such as Archbishop Patrick Kelly, the second leading prelate in England and Wales and Fr. Michael O’Dowd, the Episcopal vicar for schools and colleges - were informed of the case and the complications of employment law, which forbids discrimination against "sexual orientation."

The Telegraph continued to report that the archdiocese’s paralysis and inaction has fomented a scandal among British Catholics. One Catholic was quoted as saying: "Senior officials are aware of this yet they have done nothing. It’s unacceptable."

  Adding to the scandal, however, was the discovery that Coyne and Jones had a "reception" in a Catholic parish centre. contacted Norman Wells, director of the UK’s Family Education Trust, who stated: "It is not unreasonable for parents sending their children to a faith school to expect the head teacher to be living according to that faith."

"We shouldn’t write off such parents as irrational homophobes," Wells continued. "Like many others, they have genuine concerns about the health and social consequences of homosexual lifestyles and want influential figures in their children’s lives to be people who share their values."

  However the Telegraph reports that British bishops have thus far offered confused and half-measured responses to the situation. The Liverpool archdiocese said in a statement that Charles Coyne had run St. Cecilia’s Primary School for many years and "matters relating to his personal life have in no way interfered with his management of the school."

"I would ask heads to think about the example they are setting to their pupils and the local community," Bishop John Jukes of Southwark told the Telegraph, adding that school governors should ask a headmaster to step down if he openly flouted the Church’s moral teaching. However Bishop Jukes then went on to state that male friends may share a house together without violating Catholic moral teaching: a self-evident truth that faithful Catholics say obviously does not apply in the case of Headmaster Coyne and his homosexual liaison.

To contact the Archdiocese of Liverpool:

Liverpool Archdiocesan Centre for Evangelisation
  Croxteth Drive
  L17 1AA

Tel: 0151 522 1000

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To contact Archdiocese Of Liverpool Schools Department

Schools Department
  LACE, Croxteth Drive, Liverpool, L17 1AA.

Tel: +44 (0)151 522 1071
  Fax: +44 (0)151 522 1082

Episcopal Vicar for Schools And Colleges: Very Reverend M O’Dowd
  Director: Frank Cogley