The Archdiocese of Indianapolis defended a diocesan school’s decision to suspend a guidance counselor after officials discovered she was married to another woman.
Roncalli High School placed guidance counselor Shelly Fitzgerald on paid administrative leave after discovering that she was in a same-sex civil union, arguing that teachers at Catholic schools are called to uphold the faith and teachings of the Catholic church. Archbishop Charles Thompson issued an open letter defending the school’s position, saying the issue of her employment concerned the church’s teaching on marriage rather than her sexual orientation. (RELATED: Catholic School Fires Lesbian Teacher Over Same Sex Marriage)
“The issue concerning Ms. Fitzgerald’s employment is not about sexual orientation, but about the Church’s teaching that marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman as established and revealed by God,” Thompson wrote.
Thompson clarified that, in his view, the church does not teach that “being gay or lesbian is a sin,” but does teach that marriage is a union between one man and one woman and that it serves as the foundation of the family. The church, therefore, does not recognize Fitzgerald’s union with another woman as valid.
“The Church upholds the dignity of every human person, including persons with same-sex attraction, who “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2358). At the same time, the Church upholds the dignity and sanctity of marriage, a natural institution established by God. By its very nature, marriage is a permanent partnership between one man and one woman ordered to the good of the couple and the procreation and education of children. It is the foundation of the family, where children are raised and nurtured, and learn values and virtues that help them to grow in maturity,” the archbishop’s letter added.
Thompson also argued the job descriptions and contracts for teachers and staff at the diocese’s Catholic schools clearly define those positions as ministerial in nature and that they lay out the expectation that teachers and staff will “convey and be supportive of the teachings of the Catholic Church.”
“When a person is not fulfilling their obligations as a minister of the faith within a school, Church and school leadership address the situation by working with the person to find a path of accompaniment that will lead to a resolution in accordance with Church teaching,” Thompson wrote.
Fitzgerald has lived with her partner for 22 years and has worked for the school for 15 years, according to Crux Now. She has reportedly hired a lawyer.
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