Friday, September 2, 2016

Newark Archbishop releases a statement regarding Drumgoole litigation

Newark Archbishop John J. Myers
Newark Archbishop John J. Myers
On August 22, Kathryn Drumgoole sued Paramus Catholic High School for sexual orientation discrimination, claiming that she was fired from her position as a guidance counselor for being gay which is a violation of New Jersey law. Initially the archdiocese claimed that she wasn't fired because she is gay but because she entered into a same-sex marriage. Now, realizing that won't fly, they seem to be saying, in an August 31 statement from Archbishop John. J. Myers, that the “ministerial” exemption applies.
All involved in the ministry of Catholic education, regardless of the positions they may have or the duties and responsibilities they shoulder, are charged with forming young people into witnesses to Christ and opening their hearts to the spiritual transformation given by the Holy Spirit. By their words and by their lives, they teach. All are exemplars of the statement attributed to St. Francis: “Preach the Gospel. Use words if necessary.” Consequently, all involved in the ministry of Catholic education are required to conduct themselves in a manner that is consistent with the discipline, norms and teachings of the Catholic Church. In acknowledgement <sic> of that requirement, they accept and sign a Ministerial Agreement and Code of Conduct. They oblige themselves to promote and foster authentic Catholic beliefs and practices – even if they themselves are not Catholic. Every teacher, every administrator, every staff member in our Catholic schools teaches the students with whom he or she interacts about living according to the Faith of the Church.
What she signed is less relevant than right wing sites have asserted. Signing a  “ministerial agreement” doesn't make her a minister. Furthermore, you cannot sign away legal rights. For example, people have the right to declare bankruptcy. If someone loans you money conditioned on a written agreement never to declare bankruptcy, you can still go bankrupt. That portion of the agreement is invalid.

The Catholic Church continues to insist that it is special and deserves special treatment. When they lose enough lawsuits they might come to the conclusion that their non-religious enterprises like schools and hospitals must comply with nondiscrimination laws — just like everyone else. Meanwhile I suspect that they are trying to weed out gay people from employment. In many locales that is illegal but it's hard to prove.


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