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The Archdiocese of Indianapolis Gives Ultimatum: Either Fire Same-Sex Married Teachers or Lose Catho

Recently, Indianapolis Catholic School's Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory and Cathedral High School were under fire for continuing to employ two teachers who've been in a same-sex marriage with each other since 2017. The two teachers displayed their love publicly via social media resulting in complaints.

The Archbishop of Indianapolis Charles Thompson warned, rid of the long valued educators or no longer be recognized by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. The two Catholic schools chose opposing responses.

On Thursday June 20th 2019, Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School sent an open letter to parents, teachers, and staff stating the school's decision to respectfully separate from the Archdiocese of Indianapolis therefore, no longer being recognized as a Catholic Institute within the archdiocese.

The following day, Archbishop Charles Thompson released an official canonical decree stating the Jesuit school "can no longer use the name Catholic and will no longer be identified or recognized as a Catholic institution"

Archbishop continues:

"Whether they teach religion or not, all ministers in their professional and private lives must convey and be supportive of Catholic Church teaching. The Archdiocese of Indianapolis recognizes all teachers, guidance counselors and administrators as ministers."

Since founded in 1962, Brebeuf Jesuit has operated as an independent Catholic school and does not financially depend on the Archdiocese. Instead, the school governs internally and is supported by the USA Midwest Province of the Society of Jesus- Jesuits. In a statement, USA Midwest Province Jesuits leader Rev. Brian G. Paulson, SJ Provincial explained his disappointment:

"The Archdiocese of Indianapolis, through the Superintendent of Catholic Education, requested verbally two years ago that Brebeuf Jesuit not renew this teacher’s contract because this teacher’s marital status does not conform to church doctrine. The teacher in question does not teach religion and is a longtime valued employee of the school. Brebeuf has declined to honor the Archdiocese’s expectation that the school dismiss this teacher."

Rev. Brian G. Paulson continues:

"I recognize this request by Archbishop Charles Thompson to be his prudential judgment of the application of canon law recognizing his responsibility for oversight of faith and morals as well as Catholic education in his archdiocese. I disagree with the necessity and prudence of this decision. This is a disagreement between two church leaders of goodwill with related, but distinct responsibilities."

Brebeuf Jesuits' Principal of 15 years, Greg VanSlambrook reported on the school's future due separation:

"We're assuring our parents and our students that our operations, our school programs, everything they love about the school will continue unchanged,"

The school will also stay in the Circle City Conference, competing athletically against the same six high school per usual.

Just 11 miles away lies different results. After 22 months of extensive deliberation with the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Cathedral High School decided to follow Archbishop Charles Thompson's orders by firing the LGBTQ married educator. On June 23rd 2019, three days after Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School split from the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Cathedral's Board Chairman Matt Cohoat and President Rob Bridges spoke on the Catholic school's decision:

“In today’s climate we know that being Catholic can be challenging and we hope that this action does not dishearten you, and, most especially, dishearten Cathedral’s young people. We know that some individuals do not agree with every teaching of the Catholic Church and so their conscience struggles between the teaching and what they believe is right. We want you to know that we respect an individual’s conflict between teaching and their conscience. We will continue to educate and root our students in the fullness of the Catholic faith with an emphasis on the Holy Cross tradition.”

Unfortunately, Cathedral High School does not have the same autonomy as Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School and relies heavily on the Archdiocese for support. A petition on Change.org has been signed by nearly 50,000 people and growing in hopes to reverse the decision.

Brebeuf Jesuit and Cathedral High are not the only schools who've been pinned into the corner by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. Since appointed on June 13th 2017 by Pope Francis, Archbishop Charles Thompson has been accused of being on a "witch hunt" by parents and local community members.

In 2018, Archdiocesan-operated Indianapolis Roncalli High School fired or suspended two guidance counselors because they're both in same-sex marriages.

It is important to note, some sources are reporting these conflicts as "fake news", because the matter is not about the teachers sexuality. "In fact, the Indianapolis situation is primarily about a Catholic school’s obligations to teach the faith clearly and without contradiction (National Catholic Register)."

To be honest I am not surprised by either decisions from the Indiana Catholic Schools. I had the wonderful opportunity to be the first intern hired by Brebeuf Jesuit and worked with the Director of Diversity. I totally experienced culture shock being from the inner parts of the city but I never felt different or less than. The school was adamant about creating more socioeconomically and culturally diversity. The acceptance for others was quite inspiring and forward thinking.

I appreciate both Brebeuf and Cathedral for doing what they thought best for the future of their schools.