Archbishop Chaput throws a curve ball at the children of a lesbian couple. Is the Legion going to get the same pitch or will they get an intentional walk?
The following is in the words of the Archbishop himself. It's his explanation of why it was very Catholic to kick two preschoolers out of a Catholic parish school because they had two mommies, and why it's also very Catholic to leave the children of divorced, single, or non Catholic children in Catholic schools. It's quite the pitch.
Catholic schools: Partners in faith with parents
Archbishop Charles Chaput - Denver Catholic Register - 3/10/2010
Denver news media have reported in recent days on the case of two children of a lesbian couple in Boulder. The couple was informed by Sacred Heart of Jesus parish school that the older child, whom they were enrolling in kindergarten for next year, would be allowed to attend kindergarten but would not be able to continue into first grade the year after. Their younger child would be welcome to finish preschool, but not continue into kindergarten. Many have wondered why. Sacred Heart of Jesus parish has borne the difficult publicity surrounding this issue, but archdiocesan policy was followed faithfully in this matter, and the policy applies to all Archdiocese of Denver schools. (It's really the Archbishop's policy. It's his sovereign Archdiocese.)
Some background is important. Then we’ll turn to the human realities involved.
Catholic schools began in this country in the early 19th century. Catholics started them as an alternative to the public schools of the day, which taught a curriculum often hostile to Catholic belief. In many ways times have changed, but the mission of Catholic schools has not. The main purpose of Catholic schools is religious; in other words, to form students in Catholic faith, Catholic morality and Catholic social values.
We take great pride in the academic excellence of our schools as well. The reason is simple. A strong, well-rounded academic education helps to create mature citizens who contribute to the wider community. It’s also true that some of our schools exist as a service outreach in largely non-Catholic communities. 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. (Wow, how does attending a non Catholic church not offer a counter witness? How does divorce not offer a counter witness?)
Our schools, however, exist primarily to serve Catholic families with an education shaped by Catholic faith and moral formation. This is common sense. Other religious traditions do the same according to their beliefs, and at a heavy sacrifice. We need to remember that Catholic families pay twice for a Catholic education: through their taxes, they fund public education; then they pay again to send their children to a Catholic school. The idea that Catholic schools should require support for Catholic teaching for admission, and a serious effort from school families to live their Catholic identity faithfully, is reasonable and just. (Unless you are of another faith, divorced, or cohabitation with an opposite sexed partner.)
That’s the background. Now to the human side of a painful situation. The Church never looks for reasons to turn anyone away from a Catholic education. But the Church can’t change her moral beliefs without undermining her mission and failing to serve the many families who believe in that mission. If Catholics take their faith seriously, they naturally follow the teachings of the Church in matters of faith and morals; otherwise they take themselves outside the believing community. (The moral of the story is heterosexual sex, no matter how sinful or how much it destroys families, is more Catholic than gay sex....period.)
The Church does not claim that people with a homosexual orientation are “bad,” or that their children are less loved by God. Quite the opposite. But what the Church does teach is that sexual intimacy by anyone outside marriage is wrong; that marriage is a sacramental covenant; and that marriage can only occur between a man and a woman. These beliefs are central to a Catholic understanding of human nature, family and happiness, and the organization of society. The Church cannot change these teachings because, in the faith of Catholics, they are the teachings of Jesus Christ. (They may not be less loved, but they do make better political footballs and/or targets for curve ball theology.)
The policies of our Catholic school system exist to protect all parties involved, including the children of homosexual couples and the couples themselves. Our schools are meant to be “partners in faith” with parents. If parents don’t respect the beliefs of the Church, or live in a manner that openly rejects those beliefs, then partnering with those parents becomes very difficult, if not impossible. It also places unfair stress on the children, who find themselves caught in the middle, and on their teachers, who have an obligation to teach the authentic faith of the Church. (Ostracising the children is for their own good in order to protect them from Church teaching and Church teachers. He may have a point here--at least in his Archdiocese.)
Most parents who send their children to Catholic schools want an environment where the Catholic faith is fully taught and practiced. That simply can’t be done if teachers need to worry about wounding the feelings of their students or about alienating students from their parents. That isn’t fair to anyone—including the wider school community. Persons who have an understanding of marriage and family life sharply different from Catholic belief are often people of sincerity and good will. They have other, excellent options for education and should see in them the better course for their children. (The mission of Catholic schools is children. Only in the case of gays does the mission become the parents.)
I'm struck by the fact that this is happening in Boulder Colorado, not downtown Denver. One wonders if this would have been such an issue for a parish school in a less affluent neighborhood.
Archbishop Chaput comes very close to stating there are different rules for different schools in his third paragraph. Less affluent neighborhoods are given more slack because they are an 'outreach' to non Catholics and divorced or single parents. I'm still not quite sure why that 'outreach' justifies victimizing the children of lesbians in Boulder.
Chaput is with in his rights to do whatever he sees fit. I don't have any problem with that. I have a problem with statements like this: "The Church does not claim that people with a homosexual orientation are “bad,” or that their children are less loved by God. Quite the opposite." If this is true then why does this policy not apply to other families and other children whose parents are not living the totality of Catholic marriage teaching? It sure looks like in Chaput's Catholic world God will just have to equally love children of gay parents outside of His church. Which leads me to ask 'why bother with the church'?
I sure hope that the parents of these two children didn't operate under the mistaken assumption that in a Catholic Christian school their children would be subject to less harassment and less discrimination, because if they did, they were way wrong. Chaput is most definitely operating under the maxim that the sins of the parents will be visited on the children--at least one particular sin. Thank God it's only being done for the good of the children and their teachers, to protect them from stress and conflict or actually living like Jesus. Otherwise one would be tempted to see this action as less than pastoral.
This seems to be the new management strategy for the 'twenty first century bishop' as John Allen calls them. The idea is to deny everything possible to Catholics who don't toe the line. Now they've figured out a very twenty first century sort of 'collateral damage' policy. This is why Chaput can come up with this 'rationale' in Denver which denies innocent children, and Wuerl can deny heterosexual couples spousal benefits in Washington. The abortion and gay issues provide perfect opportunities to practice management by denial in new ways--by denying Catholic rights and services to innocent people. I wish one of them would point out just exactly which verse of Jesus's in the Good News justifies punishing the innocent to coerce the guilty. Seems to me this is a blatantly SECULAR/POLITICAL strategy.
Personally I hope Archbishop Chaput stays consistent. If the sins of the parents can be visited on the children he had better visit the sins of Father Maciel on the Legion and remove their canonical status. Otherwise he will force the rest of us to live with even more stress, confusion, and hypocrisy.