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Ohio Catholic school fires teacher planning gay ‘marriage’: diocese strongly backs school

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SANDUSKY, OH, January 15, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Diocese of Toledo has issued a statement saying it “fully concurred” with a Catholic school's decision to fire an openly homosexual teacher for announcing his “engagement” to his boyfriend.

Brian Panetta, who taught band and choir for four-and-a-half years, left his position with Sandusky Central Catholic School on January 3. He has said the school allowed him to resign.

“I understand the church’s teachings, but I don’t agree with it," Panetta told the Toledo Blade.

On the day he resigned, Panetta wrote in a letter to the full student body and faculty, “As a proud and gay Catholic, I understand the Church’s teachings on marriage and agree that my engagement is a public statement of my position for marriage equality, which the Catholic Church does not yet support.”

He added that he is “hopeful to see change in the future" and is “encouraged by the leadership of Pope Francis." 

Panetta promised to “seek new venues for my ministry.”

The Diocese of Toledo responded by noting that it “does not normally comment on personnel matters,” but said Panetta's public statements required clarification.

“In light of the Church's clear teaching on sacred marriage and the fact that Mr. Panetta himself has publicly indicated his marriage plans are contrary to Church teachings and are the issue at the heart of this matter, the leadership of Sandusky Central Catholic School properly determined that his employment could not continue,” the diocese said in a statement. “When Sandusky Central Catholic School informed the diocese of the situation, the diocese fully concurred it was the correct decision and in keeping with the terms of his Teacher-Minister contract.”

Former Toledo Archbishop Leonard Blair was transferred in mid-December, leaving the diocese administered by Fr. Charles F. Ritter.

It is at least the second time a diocese has supported a Catholic school's decision to fire an employee for violating his contract over same-sex “marriage” in recent days. Seattle Archbishop Peter Sartain personally approved the firing. of Mark Zmuda, who 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. 

Sandusky Central Catholic Schol states that its “Mission Statement guides us in our efforts to instill in all SCCS students a sound moral compass and the Catholic ethics and values that Jesus desires us all to have.”

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

But the head of a Catholic education watchdog group feels differently.

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Patrick Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society, told LifeSiteNews.com, “Clearly we’re going to see more of this in our Catholic schools and other institutions, so it’s essential that we learn how to respond and get it right from the beginning. That’s what is so encouraging about this case: the school and the Diocese are setting a great example for Catholics instead of shying away from a thorny issue.”

“Catholic educators nationwide can be thankful for this precedent,” Reilly said.

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