|We have not 'come along way baby'. Not in Butte, Mt. Not in the Catholic Church.|
Last week I wrote about the Helena Diocese declaring bankruptcy and it's use of mediation with the 362 abuse victims rather than the usual confrontational style of other dioceses. This week I get to write about another story that has generated a lot of national and international interest, that of the firing of an unwed pregnant teacher at Butte Central Catholic school.
I found three things really interesting about this story. The first interesting thing is that the Diocese acted on an anonymous letter. Which tells me that even in my little diocese, the right wing morality police have all the leverage, even beyond the leverage of Pope Francis who has baptized the children of single parents, 'cold called' one who chose not to have an abortion, and has strongly suggested the doctrines of the Church are opportunities for pastoral action, not for condemnation and judgement. He's even made pretty strong statements about Jesus coming to save sinners--like himself--and not to create a Church of self righteous pious saints strictly for self righteous pious saints.
The second thing I found hugely interesting was the statement from Diocesan School Superintendent Patrick Haggarty:
“The Catholic moral teaching is that the sacrament of marriage is a holy union between a man and a woman,” Haggarty told the Standard. “And we certainly believe and we teach our children who attend our schools about the sacrament of marriage. That’s as old as our church. Not only do we teach that to the children kindergarten through 12th grade, but we’re held to that standard as well.”
As far as I can tell, the teacher involved did not violate Church teaching on marriage. She violated Church teaching on sex outside of marriage. I think poor Mr Haggarty was attempting to defend the wrong Church teaching, but then most teachers fired from Catholic schools lately, have been violating Church teaching on marriage because they happen to be gay teachers getting married. Maybe Mr Haggarty just got a confused, or maybe he was attempting something else. That would be using an unmarried pregnant woman to help some of his fellow Catholic school administrators on the hot stove for firing gay married teachers. Now they can all say 'See, we fire other teachers for violating Catholic teaching on marriage. We aren't discriminating in any way at all.' Except of course they are, and they will be until some straight man is fired for masturbating, adultery, divorce, using pornography, getting his girl friend pregnant, carrying condoms in his wallet, or some other violation of Catholic sexual morality.
The third thing I found interesting is the defense the teacher's attorney, Brian Butler, will use to get her reinstated. It worked in Cincinnati in the case where an unwed teacher who opted to get pregnant via AI was fired. This defense operates on the legal premise that no school or school contract can force a women to give up her constitutional right to have a child. The Cincinnati case had some other interesting facts that didn't factor into the actual legal case. The teacher was not Catholic and was also a partnered, but non married, lesbian. The salient point however, was that any contract which stipulates a person give up their constitutional rights, is not a legally binding contract in the USA or any of it's States. The Archdiocese of Cincinnati was ordered to pay their fired teacher $170,000. I suspect a similar outcome in Montana.
There are also some things about this situation that I find just plain angering. One of those was the Church double speak about how wonderful it was that this teacher did not abort and opted to choose life--in spite of the fact it would cost her her job--but still, we have to kick her to the curb, throw her out, and say sayonara sinner. For me this totally proves 'pro life' is a secondary moral good to punishing sexual sins. Actually, I've known that for decades as it goes a long with that 'pro life' concept that it's better to have your child die of AIDS than use a condom.
Another angrifying issue is the sheer blindness of some of the editorializing on this situation. Deacon Greg Kandra waxes eloquently about how this situation should have been handled--in a media sense--without ever questioning whether it needed to be a media issue at all. The problems the Church faces have been seriously exacerbated by limiting the discussion to media presentations instead of looking at the core problems. No matter how much spinning one spins, firing a pregnant teacher in mid term can not be spun in the Church's favor. It is not pro life. It is not charitable. It's operating like a field hospital whose sole treatment is amputation. It is unconstitutional. It is not about defending the sanctity of marriage, or of sexuality, or of life. It is about defending the hypocrisy of the Church. I've had enough of that.