CHESTERFIELD, Mich. (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Catholic school in Michigan has been embroiled in scandal involving promotion of the LGBT agenda. Parents of Austin Catholic High School students are claiming the school is not living up to its mission of "Truth, Unity and Love" by usurping their rights and promoting the gay agenda to their children.
Recent scandals at the Catholic school in Chesterfield Township showcase a glaring problem with the understanding of Catholic doctrine and the Holy Eucharist, provide evidence that the administration is capitulating to the homosexual agenda, as well as highlight issues with the professionalism of the teachers and administration. These documents back up claims from parents that Catholic teaching and parental rights are being undermined.
Church Militant obtained a copy of a "Human Sexuality" questionnaire given to tenth-grade students in 2016. Students were expected to answer true or false to questions like:
"The Catholic Church does not approve of homosexuals"
"A person's foundation for being gay happens early in the womb"
"Gay people should be allowed to marry"
"Being gay is a choice people make"
"Doctors can make gay people straight"
"You can pray away the gay"
The students were not given any instructions beforehand nor were they told the exercise was meant to be a springboard for discussion and not an exercise for a grade. During the discussion, students' answers were corrected by the teacher, Dan White.
For instance, after one student answered "True" to the statement "Being gay is a choice," White revised the answer to "False." He also corrected the students' answers to reflect that gay people should be allowed to marry and that they are born that way. During the discussion, he reportedly told the students sometimes a man can be trapped in a woman's body — a claim that's been refuted by doctors
Sources told Church Militant that White was not tolerant of any student who attempted to defend Church teaching, continually interrupting and shutting down their discussions if they disagreed with him. The atmosphere in the room was so tense that he told a student he could leave if he didn't like it. When the student did, it was reported to parents as an act of "disrespect." A number of students were upset and visibly shaken after class.
"Regardless of what is being taught in your homes, we expect our students to show compassion toward all God's people, respect the adults here to teach them," Coppens chastised the students.
"I wanted to send this letter home before many of the students arrived claiming that this happened or that happened," she concluded.
A number of outraged parents contacted the school administration, prompting another response from Coppens, who apologized for the stress the lesson may have caused students.
"Many of our students were left asking more questions and being more confused," she said, explaining that Fr. Christopher Talbot, the pastor and chairman of Austin's board of directors, would come in and "pastorally clarify the [C]hurch's teaching and answer questions the students may have."
Coppens and Fr. Talbot would not provide parents with a copy of the Human Sexuality quiz, even though some of the parents asked to see it. One student was able to take a photo of the materials before it was turned in and it is that image that prompted other parents to speak out.
Together, these parents documented and presented the school administration with their concerns and requests during a meeting on March 9, 2017. They explained that they were concerned over students' behavior during Mass, and that they found a crass transgender poster hanging in a classroom, an anti-Catholic book on a classroom shelf, and posters from the radical leftist group Southern Poverty Law Center hanging in bathrooms. They also claimed a "liberal agenda" was pervasive throughout the school.
A few months later, the parents also questioned an incident involving sacrilegious Holy Communions and irreverent distribution. Sources explained that non-Catholics regularly receive Holy Communion at Austin during Mass and Communion services.
In that incident, the school did not want the Eucharist not to remain in the tabernacle over a long holiday weekend. Without explaining the process, students were given a number of Sacred Hosts when they approached for Holy Communion, prompting some kids to return to the Extraordinary Ministers in order to return them, while others fanned them out like they were playing cards.
Coppens and Fr. Talbot sent a letter to parents March 31, 2017, expressing disappointment at the parent's decision to "organize and petition the administration as a group."
"[S]mall power groups are contrary to our core values of unity and love," they claimed. They scolded the parents that "allowing groupthink to guide your actions will not create positive change," instead insisting that the parents simply "trust them."
Their response to parents' concern over a lack of reverence during Mass, especially at the consecration, was to shift blame back to parents.
"Practicing reverence and respect for the Chapel and Mass should also be modeled and practiced with the students' families," the letter insisted, emphasizing that "parents are the primary educators of their children." The letter added, "We can only do so much to overcome years of lacking or poor lessons in Mass and worship etiquette," and promised to include a "teaching Mass" in the curriculum each year.
And in response to parents' request for more faithful Catholic literary works, Coppens and Fr. Talbot wrote, "It is not the vision of our founders or Augustinian Pedagogy to use only Catholic authors or textbooks."
Even though parents notified the board of directors and the Archdiocese of Detroit, no actions were undertaken by the school administration to address the parents' concerns. While the school is within the borders of the Detroit archdiocese, authority over its administration lies with the Order of St. Augustine.
Church Militant obtained an email Fr. Talbot sent out to concerned parents in which he asked parents to cease corresponding with individual board members, "as we deem this form of communication neither helpful nor necessary and it will not be responded to."
"When we have examined everything carefully in light of our mission and vision, we will make a formal response," he said.
No formal response was ever given, but the administration scheduled individual meetings with parents where "nothing substantial was said" and "no solutions were given," with one board member reportedly saying, "Austin will never be orthodox."
As a result of the scandal, a number of teachers, including White, resigned or were fired. Several families pulled their children out of the school and others may not have registered their children as a result of the controversy. Parents and families that had come forward became the targets of hostility from staff and from some other parents. Even some students were treated with hostility.
Parents who had contacted board members were shocked that the board was not outraged by the situation. One of those members of the board, Fr. Ronald Victor, the pastor of St. Isidore Catholic Church in Macomb, Michigan, has has expressed clear support for homosexuality.
In 2015, Fr. Victor said of gay marriage that it can be "sacred and sacramental." He expressed frustration that he wasn’t able to officiate at his gay nephew's "wedding" in a Catholic church, but said these are "two very holy guys."
In 2012, Fr. Victor testified on behalf of a fellow priest, Fr. Timothy Murray, who was convicted of possession of 685 videos of child pornography. Victor said in court that despite his criminal activity, Fr. Murray is "a person of good character."
The gay agenda doesn't just stop at public support. Another staff member at Austin has also been directly involved promoting and even condoning homosexuality to students. Joseph Sturza, former admissions director at Austin and the youth minister at Fr. Victor's parish, was convicted of child sexual abuse. Sturza's attorney, Stephen Rabaut, explained that his client was "trying to support the young man" by telling him how to masturbate in person, during internet chats and text messages. Sturza openly went against the wishes of the parents, admitting he was the only one who told the boy who was having feelings of same-sex attractions, "You have to be the person you are," according to Rabaut.
Church Militant also learned that in 2016 and 2017 another Austin teacher made inappropriate contacts with students. When Coppens was notified, she suspended the teacher for five days and returned him to the classroom. Only after the archdiocese of Detroit was notified was the teacher permanently removed from the school.
Church Militant reached out to the archdiocese of Detroit, Coppens and Fr. Talbot for comment, but they have not returned our calls.