St. Thomas Aquinas would not have fired the pregnant Catholic teacher

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Hester Prynne at the stocks, an engraving from an edition of Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Scarlet Letter."

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Hester Prynne at the stocks, an engraving from an edition of Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Scarlet Letter."

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A Montana Catholic school is saying it had to fire Shaela Evenson when she got pregnant -- her contract has a morals clause. But a leading Catholic law and theology professor says not so fast.

  • CLS

    Could we have a quote to the relevant Aquinas text? I’d like to know the context. What does Thomas mean by “unequal burden”?

  • Larry

    This might help.

    Aquinas identifies further conditions of legislative invalidity: acts “beyond the power committed to the legislator”; burdensome schemes of unjust enrichment, “directed to the cupidity and vainglory of rulers”(I-II, 94,4), and schemes so burdensome as to destroy the common good (e.g., individual expression); and unequal burdens imposed, even for legitimate public aims, upon the community (equal protection under law) (I-II, 95,2). “The like are acts of violence rather than laws” (I-II, 96,4).

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  • Rod Larocque

    Can we have the section quoted on what St Thomas says about sex outside of marriage… how it is mortally sinful and while we are at it, what does he say about public sinners and causing scandal… what does St Thomas have to say about that?
    This woman knew what she signed and should not be surprised by her firing. Perhaps if she would have requested a leave of absence to give birth and give the Child up for adoption, she would not have been fired…
    This is her public disavowel of Catholic moral law… It is her fault, not the schools.

  • Lucy

    WWJD ?? Pope Francis has it right.

  • Larry

    Wow, talk about really missing the point.

    St. Thomas would have found fault in your “Judge Dredd’ish” take on the law.
    He was not someone who believed in enforcing laws rigidly and without consequence of their general application. He considered not only what the law said, but how it is used. To use it unequally is to consider the law void on its face using St. Thomas’s reasoning.

    It is obvious that such moral codes of conduct are enforced unequally for men and women. The hypocrisy in how they are used against female employees as compared to males ones in Catholic Schools is well established. Of course a man who impregnates his girlfriend outside of marriage is never fired for such things but a woman who bears the physical evidence of their relationship is the one targeted.

  • JC

    Would you have the same moral judgment against a Catholic man who impregnates an unmarried woman or Catholic priests who molest children (and who are re-assigned to other diocese to hide their “sins”)?

  • Chris

    Well I guess the lesson here is to use birth control or get an abortion and keep your mouth shut if you want to keep your job

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  • David Albert

    A basic moral awareness that flows from the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, the first of the major documents adopted by Vatican II, 22/11/1963, is that the moral wellspring (“fons” – section 10) for the church and, therefore, for all who fully and actively participate in the Sacred Liturgy, is the Christ who permeates us and gives us a share in His Life in Word and New Paschal Meal. Thus, it is disjutive, appearing to be objectively sacrigious, for purported co-participants in this Life to say that they are bound by contract to inflict punishment. One of the most persistent witnesses of Jesus in the Gospels is His repeated and consistent condemnations of the purported religious authorities seeking to enforce laws rather than seeking life, being open to Life. Jesus Is consistently unrelenting and clear on this, and most strikingly when established men turn on women. Jesus unravels that every time he encounters it – whether it being those who self-righteously exclude and stone a woman or those who sit at a self-righteous table and go tut-tut at a woman who touches Jesus. Jesus, as reported in the Gospel and, therefore, as permeating all those who truly make themselves available for the Eucaristic meal, is precisely on
    point. The result of this analysis is to make the reliance on contract, the declaration that we are bound by contract to exclude a woman, true objective sacrilege if done by those who purport to be Church, by those who purport to be the consequence of the Sacred Liturgy.

  • Greg deGiere


    Does Catholic teaching require unwed mothers to give up their babies for adoption?I dont mean this sarcastically, it’s a serious question.


  • Denise Conway

    I cannot believe what you said. What is your problem??? Did Christ not say, “He who is not guilty to throw the first stone?”If you recall, everyone walked away!!! You are one of the reasons we are loosing our youth. I give her credit for keeping this baby and addressing the comments made by pompous people like you. What do you think our Pope would say to you and others like you??

    We as Catholics must put our faith into action, for words mean nothing if not supported by action.

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  • Theresa

    When you scold a teacher for having premarital relations, you are, in fact, condoning the thing you stand for: no abortion. Situations occur, especially if the church isn’t condoning even barrier method birth control. The teacher is setting a good example as she could have chosen abortion, but she chose LIFE. Many of my Christian friends had abortions as it would not be accepted by their “Christian parents.” This scenario further reminds me of when I was fifteen and joined a nondenominational group in high school (this was prior to these types of groups not being allowed at public schools). My friend who was Catholic invited me to the group. I really respected her and looked up to her strong Faith. She and her bf ended up getting pregnant senior year and she was ostracized from the Christian group. My Faith was really shaken. It wasn’t shaken that my friend who was in a long-term relationship became pregnant, but the group informed her she couldn’t attend the meetings as it was a bad example to the group. I was so upset that they did this to her, that I stopped attending and took a break from religion. I, eventually, returned to the Catholic Church because of its view on Justice and supposed acceptance of all people into the Church as Jesus did. Aquinas College erred and owes this teacher an apology as well as an explanation to the students of the school’s SIN.

  • Theresa

    You are ignorant! I want to know how many times you’ve, personally, put your seed out there. And have you looked lustfully at any person? According to the bible this is an equal sin if you look lustfully on another or masterbate. If you want to be rigid with the law, I bet you’ve broken your “verbal” contact with The Lord. How dare you judge someone. Too bad others cannot see you in your bedroom and shame your sinfulness.

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  • Laurence Ringo

    Laying aside the hypocrisy inherent within this school”law,I myself wouldn’t look to Aquinas as some sort of arbiter of what’s”moral”, since he advocated the murder of those the roman catholic church deemed heretics. In my opinion, there was NEVER a legitimate reason for them to take the lives of those who disagreed with their tenets, so…a pox on what Aquinas considered moral.

  • Laurence Ringo

    Is there any chance that we are, oh, I don’t know, bound by The Saviour NOT to be fornicators David Albert? According to His own Words in Mark 7:20-23, we are.So there Is that–Yes?