Jesuit School, Defying Archdiocese, Refuses to Remove Teacher in Same-Sex Marriage
A Jesuit preparatory school in Indiana has refused to fire a teacher who is in a same-sex marriage, prompting the Archdiocese of Indianapolis to say that it would break its ties with the school, officials said Thursday.
Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School learned recently that the archbishop of Indianapolis, Charles C. Thompson, would issue a decree on Friday stating that the school would no longer be recognized as a Catholic school by the archdiocese.
Brebeuf, an independent Catholic school in Indianapolis founded in 1962, has been at odds with the archdiocese on the matter since learning about two years ago that a longtime teacher at the school had married someone of the same sex.
The school was asked verbally at the time by the archdiocese not to renew the teacher’s contract because the teacher’s marital status did not conform with church doctrine, according to a letter issued Thursday to Jesuits in the Midwest by the USA Midwest Province of the Society of Jesus. (The Catholic Church does not recognize same-sex marriages.)
Despite learning more recently about the pending decree from the archdiocese, the school resisted pressure from the archdiocese to remove the teacher, according to a letter issued by the school on Thursday to students and parents explaining the situation. The decree is being appealed.
“Brebeuf Jesuit has respectfully declined the Archdiocese’s insistence and directive that we dismiss a highly capable and qualified teacher due to the teacher being a spouse within a civilly-recognized same-sex marriage,” said the letter, from the school’s president, Father William Verbryke, and two members of the board of trustees.
Brebeuf called the archdiocese’s insertion into an employment matter a “unique action” among the more than 80 Jesuit schools that operate throughout North America.
In his decree to be issued Friday, Archbishop Thompson, who oversees Catholic education in the archdiocese, said he acknowledged “the choice of Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School to no longer retain Catholic identity according to the doctrine and pastoral practice of the Catholic Church.” The decree states that it will remain in effect until the school decides to “operate in accord with the doctrine and pastoral practice of the Catholic Church.”
In a statement late Thursday, the archdiocese said: “Regrettably, Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School has freely chosen not to enter into such agreements that protect the important ministry of communicating the fullness of Catholic teaching to students. Therefore, Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School will no longer be recognized as a Catholic institution by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.”
The decision is likely to have little practical effect on the function of the high school, which has a coed student population of nearly 800 students, about half of them non-Catholic. It is not financially tied to the archdiocese, and school representatives said its mission and operations would not change.
But representatives of the archdiocese are not expected to attend graduation or Masses at the school, and school officials will not be invited to meetings at the archdiocese with representatives with other Catholic schools.