Following the exclusion from a Boulder Catholic school of the children of a lesbian couple, National Catholic Reporter carried a useful post which gave the two women an opportunity to present their point of view. Following this post, in which I thought the women came across as courteous, reasonable and thoughtful, NCR carried a follow-up in which they interviewed the local priest concerned. ( I shall bite my tongue here, and withhold comment on what I thought of him.) On publication of this interview, NCR promised us some follow-ups with other parents from the same school. The first of these has appeared today – an interview with Andy Bush and his wife, Anna,who have three children at Sacred Heart School, and make it clear that they disagree with the decision.
The first point here is that this has become for them a matter of conscience against faith – they have found their own belief and value system in conflict with the public stance of the church.
Well, I think it’s been hard because for the first time our faith has run head-on with our consciences. We don’t support the decision and at the same time we’ve been part of this wonderful community for our kids for the last six years. It’s given us pause and a lot of concern, a lot of sorrow, like everybody else.
But also important, is the observation that technically, at least, they are also living in clear contravention of church teaching – but have not been sanctioned themselves. This is thus a clear example of the double standards so often applied by the church against same sex couples, as compared to the standards applied to opposite couples who are also living outside of Church rules.
Bush: My wife grew up in Catholic schools; I didn’t. I’m not a Catholic, so we’re in discord with the church at some level. Fr. Bill knows this. You see, I’m not a practicing Catholic.
NCR: Were you married in the Catholic church?
Bush: No, we weren’t. In the eyes of doctrine, we’re sinners and we’re living out of discord in the church.
NCR: So you would be in the same …
Bush: In a theoretical sense, I’m the same as the lesbian couple. And at the same time, we are treated differently than this couple in that we were asked to baptize our children in the Catholic faith, which we did, and raise them in the Catholic faith, which we have, not so different than this couple.
I’ve also been asked to be on the school advisory council, which I was. I’ve been asked to be on the school grounds committee, which I was. I was part of the selection committee for our new principal and had many conversations with Fr. Bill, specifically about the fact that I wasn’t Catholic, but that I could uphold a fair and kind of open view and, thereby, representing a part of the school that isn’t Catholic.
NCR: Did Fr. Breslin ever suggest that you get married in the Catholic church?
Bush: He didn’t, nor did he suggest that my kids wouldn’t be allowed to go to school beyond kindergarten. It’s a little disappointing and people, including our family, are a little concerned about speaking up because maybe I’ll be the next person who’s asked to leave. They know that I’m not Catholic. Fr. Bill and I have had discussions about this.
There are a significant number of people in Sacred Heart who I would imagine have been part of the experience of divorce. I don’t know how many have annulled their marriages. There have been some children born out of wedlock. And there is an amazingly small family size for the Catholic church, in case any one has noticed.
(Read the full interview here)
If you are straight, as we know already, it is accepted that you can practice contraception with impunity on the basis of dissent in conscience; if divorced, you can be treated with sensitivity and compassion; if married outside of the church, you can have a blind eye turned. You can even be invited to participate in the selection of a school principal. But if you’re gay or lesbian – none of this compassion or sensitivity applies. Your orientation overrides all other considerations.
Yet the Church claims that it is not homophobic, and opposes “unjust” discrimination.
The school website proclaims:
At the heart of our Catholic faith is a sense of joy and hope for the future, love and respect for others, and the knowledge that God is with us in everything we do. At every grade level, the religious curriculum instructs students in our Catholic faith and provides opportunities to practice that faith in an atmosphere of love rooted in Christ.
I kid you not.
At his own, personal blog, Fr Breslin describes this as the most difficult decision of this life. Starting with a reflection on Moses and the burning bush,he muses on the difficulties that the Lord sometimes demands of us. But then he gives the game away. This is how he puts it:
This past week we implemented a policy that has been the most difficult decision of my life. The choice could have been made to do nothing and allow a lesbian couple to enroll their child in our Kindergarten. But that choice would have been against Archdiocesan policy; and when a priest is ordained he promises obedience to his bishop; and I cannot violate that vow; and I will not.
Although he starts by talking about obedience to God, when he gets down to the decision, it has nothing to do with the Lord – it’s all about obedience to the bishop. It is this idea of a church which demands blind obedience which is destroying it, and must be resolutely opposed.
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- Mirror, Mirror: The Catholic Church in the U.S. Earns a Reputation for Meanness, as Bishops Continue Silence about Bullying of Gay Teens (bilgrimage.blogspot.com)
- Ongoing Catholic Conversation about Sexual Morality: Two Recent National Catholic Reporter Pieces (bilgrimage.blogspot.com)