Cathedral High School ‘separates’ from teacher over same-sex marriage

Cathedral High School on Sunday said it was ending its  employment of a teacher in a public same-sex marriage to avoid losing its ability to operate as a Catholic and not-for-profit school.

In a letter addressed to the “Cathedral Family,” Cathedral board Chairman Matt Cohoat and President Rob Bridges said the school made the “agonizing decision” to “separate from the teacher” following “22 months of earnest discussion and extensive dialogue with the Archdiocese of Indianapolis about Cathedral’s continued Catholic identity.”

The letter did not identify the teacher or say whether the departure already had taken place. It also did not say if it took the form of an outright termination or the non-renewal of an employment contract.

The letter said Archbishop Charles Thompson “made it clear that Cathedral’s continued employment of a teacher in a public, same-sex marriage would result in our forfeiting our Catholic identity due to our employment of an individual living in contradiction to Catholic teaching on marriage.”

In addition to losing its 501(c)(3) not-for-profit status, Cathedral would sacrifice several other things if it disobeyed the Archdiocese’s orders, the letter said, including:

— the ability to celebrate the Sacraments as it has the past 100 years with students and community;
— “the privilege of reserving the Blessed Sacrament in our chapel’s tabernacle;”
— the ability to refer to Cathedral as a Catholic school;
— permission to have its diocesan priests serve on the board of directors;
— and its affiliation with the Brothers of Holy Cross.

“Cathedral has been a Catholic school for the past 100 years and our Catholic faith is at the core of who we are and what we teach at Cathedral,” the letter said. “We are committed to educating our students in the tenets of the Catholic faith with an emphasis on the Holy Cross tradition.”

Cathedral is the third private Indianapolis Catholic high school in the past year to find itself in the spotlight over employment issues caused by same-sex marriage.

Roncalli High School has declined to renew the employment contracts of two guidance counselors, Shelly Fitzgerald and Lynn Starkey, because they are in same-sex marriages.

Last week, Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School gained attention by refusing an Archdiocese directive to fire a teacher married to a same-sex partner. Brebeuf said the school would no longer be recognized by the archdiocese as a Catholic school for disobeying the order.

Cathedral officials said they “respect the position” taken by Brebeuf, but said the situations are not the same.

Brebeuf is sponsored by the Midwest Jesuits and receives no financial support from the archdiocese, it said, while Cathedral is affiliated with the Brothers of Holy Cross and relies more on the archdiocese for support.

Cathedral High School, 5225 E 56th St., has almost 1,200 students in grades 9-12.

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