A move to penalize a Jesuit high school for refusing to fire a teacher in a same-sex marriage has been temporarily suspended by the Vatican, allowing the school to celebrate upcoming religious holidays.
Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis refused to fire a married gay teacher back in June, defying an order from the city’s archdiocese. Their refusal prompted the Archbishop, Charles Thompson, to issue a decree that the school could no longer be recognized or identified as a Catholic institution.
But now, that’s changing — at least temporarily.
On Monday the Vatican suspended the decree, pending the resolution of the school’s appeal. That means that while Brebeuf waits for its appeal of the decree to be resolved it can continue operating in affiliation with the Catholic Church.
But that doesn’t mean the appeal has been resolved or that the decision is permanent, said the president of the school, Fr. Bill Verbryke, in a press release. It just means Brebeuf can now continue its observance of the Eucharist and will be able to celebrate Mass for the Feast Day of St. Jean de Brebeuf in October.
An ongoing battle over LGBT teachers
The incident between the high school and the Catholic Church is the latest battle between bishops who rigidly adhere to Catholic doctrine and schools who want to employ openly gay and lesbian teachers.
Brebeuf issued a statement in June saying it has “respectfully declined” the archdiocese’s directive “that we dismiss a highly capable and qualified teacher due to the teacher being a spouse within a civilly recognized same-sex marriage.”
Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author of “Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity” told CNN the incident with Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School was a bit unusual.
“It is rare for a Catholic institution not only to side with its LGBT faculty members, but also do so in the face of such fierce opposition from a bishop,” he said. Martin is unaffiliated with the school.
He continued, “In this case, it is also rare that a bishop would go so far as to publicly remove the designation ‘Catholic’ from the school.”
Verbryke, the school president, says that Brebeuf’s ultimate desire is to continue its relationship with the Catholic Church and have its identity as a Catholic school fully recognized and supported by the Archdiocese.
Whether that actually happens depends on the outcome of the appeal. Verbryke said he doesn’t know how long the appeal process will take.