On Monday, The New York Times ran an article titled "How to Defy the Catholic Church." The article praises the decision of a Jesuit school to defy its archbishop and allow a teacher in a same-sex "marriage" to remain on staff and makes a plethora of foolish statements in an attempt to undermine fundamental Catholic doctrine.
Archbishop Charles Thompson of the archdiocese of Indianapolis recently informed two Catholic schools that if they failed to fire an employee who was in a same-sex "marriage," the schools would no longer be recognized by the archdiocese as Catholic schools. One school, Cathedral High School, reluctantly complied with the bishop's demands. The other school, Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School, refused to do so.
Additionally, it turns out that the two men at these two Catholic schools were "married" to each other.
"To our knowledge, the Archdiocese of Indianapolis' direct insertion into an employment matter of a school governed by a religious order is unprecedented," Brebeuf said. "After long and prayerful consideration, we determined that following the Archdiocese's directive would not only violate our informed conscience on this particular matter, but also set a concerning precedent for future interference in the school's operations and other governance matters that Brebeuf Jesuit leadership has historically had the sole right and privilege to address and decide."
The Times applauded this Jesuit school for pushing back against the Catholic Church, and invoked Fr. James Martin to justify their position.
According to Fr. Martin and The Times, firing employees for participating in a same-sex marriage is unnecessarily discriminatory because it isolates people with one type of sin while letting people who struggle with every other sin off the hook. But there are some flaws with this perspective.
First, no sane Catholic believes homosexuality is the only sin that falls within the grounds of unallowable conduct for a Catholic school employee. Employees who dishonor Christ and his Church by committing adultery, cohabiting before marriage or getting divorced without an annulment should be fired as well.
It may seem that the Church ignores these other teachings, but in reality, they are just harder to identify and therefore much harder to punish people for. The prevalence of Catholic schools firing teachers for same-sex "marriages" and not for these other unvirtuous acts has more to do with practicality than anything else.
Additionally, there is a profound difference between repenting for a past sin and living in a perpetual state of sin without repentance. The latter, which includes same-sex "marriage," is worse.
If Catholic school students see a teacher living in a perpetual state of sin, they will obviously be led to believe the Church teaching on that issue is wrong, and that the teacher isn't actually engaging in a sin at all. And then the children will believe that any Church teaching may be subject to their own personal revision.
Father Martin is very happy about Brebeuf's decision.
"Brebeuf's decision to retain their employee was probably the most Catholic thing the school could do," he told The Times. "It is standing with someone who is on the margins, and that's what being Catholic is all about."
Unfortunately, Fr. Martin is off the mark once again. Standing with people on the margins of society is good, but rather than simply standing there with them, we are supposed to walk with them to a different and better place. This concept applies to helping a poor person feed himself as well as helping a person in a state of sin come closer to God.
We are not supposed to simply stand with people in their misery and sin and tell them they are OK as they are. Telling a person in sin they are OK as they are is no better than telling a person in poverty that they are OK as they are, and to lie about a moral truth that is fundamental to all of the Abrahamic religions (not just Catholicism) would not be helpful at all.
The Times also says, "It is time for Catholics to remember it again and stand up for their brothers and sisters in same-sex marriages, as Brebeuf Jesuit has done, even if it means defying the teaching of their own imperfect church."
This misguided statement fails to distinguish the imperfect Catholic Church from the infallible ideology that is Catholicism. The Church as an institution has plenty of issues, but the Church's teachings on faith and morals, including same-sex marriage, are absolutely true.
According to The Times, Cathedral High School complied with the archdiocese's request in this matter largely because they are a diocesan high school.
"Because Brebeuf is a specific ministry of the Jesuits, their canonical and nonprofit status is different than ours," Cathedral's letter said. "Therefore, the two schools cannot function the same way if Cathedral were to receive a similar decree as Brebeuf."
This is interesting because it indicates that while diocesan schools do not have the financial independence to reject the orders of their bishops, the Jesuit schools do, and Brebeuf's decision may set a dangerous precedent for the future.