What a difference a diocese makes!
Two months ago, two girls were booted out of a Catholic school in Boulder, Co. because their parents are lesbian partners. There hadn’t been any problem, it seemed, until that fact came to the attention of headquarters–the Denver archdiocese over which Charles Chaput presides.
Two days ago, the AP reported that a small parochial school in the diocese of Boston, St. Paul Elementary School in Hingham, had withdrawn its acceptance of an 8-year-old boy upon discovering that his two parents are lesbians. This was a local decision, made without the knowledge of headquarters–the Boston archdiocese presided over by Sean O’Malley.
With Cardinal O’Malley accompanying the pope on pilgrimage in Fatima, the archdiocesan spokesman quickly informed the media that the archdiocese had no policy of excluding children of same-sex couples from its schools. Then the superintendent of schools announced that the archdiocese would find another church school for the boy to attend, and that a policy on the children of same-sex couples would be developed “to eliminate any misunderstandings in the future.” (Catholics United spent yesterday collecting
2,500 signatures urging that the policy be one of allowing all children to have access to a Catholic education.)
Meanwhile, two local organizations that raise scholarship money for Catholic schools announced their opposition to discrimination in admissions. The Catholic Schools Foundation, leading provider of aid to needy students in Greater Boston, sent out a letter saying it would not provide scholarships to children attending schools that discriminated. That was “at odds with our values as a foundation, the intentions of our donors,
and ultimately Gospel teaching,”
After the Denver decision, Archbishop Chaput took to the pages of his diocesan newspaper to justify his policy of exclusion. It was, he claimed, necessary for the proper communication of Catholic doctrine as well as in the interest of the child for parents to be with the program. So why is it OK for Catholic schools to admit children of, say, divorced parents but not children of same-sex ones?
Many of our schools
also accept students of other faiths and no faith, and from single
parent and divorced parent families. These students are always welcome
so long as their parents support the Catholic mission of the school and
do not offer a serious counter-witness to that mission in their actions.
Chaput’s point, I suppose, is that same-sex couples, by their very existence, offer a “serious counter-witness” in a way that divorced parents don’t.
It will be interesting to read what O’Malley has to say on the matter after he gets back from Fatima–stay tuned to Cardinal Seán’s Blog. And while we’re waiting, we may ponder his emergence as the closest thing to a paladin progressive Catholicism has in the American hierarchy today.