By Christopher White, The Tablet’s National Correspondent
NEW YORK – After refusing to fire a teacher who is gay and in a civil same-sex marriage, a Jesuit school in Indianapolis has been stripped of its Catholic label by the archdiocese.
The Board of Trustees of Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School fired the first shots on Thursday by preempting the Archdiocese of Indianapolis’s announcement.
In a statement, they defended their decision not to fire the teacher whom they described as “highly capable and qualified,” as a matter of conscience.
“After long and prayerful consideration, we determined that following the Archdiocese’s directive would not only violate our informed conscience on this particular matter, but also set a concerning precedent for future interference in the school’s operations and other governance matters that Brebeuf Jesuit leadership has historically had the sole right and privilege to address and decide,” they said in a statement.
“What’s more, we also recognize the harm that adhering to this mandate would cause our highly capable and qualified teachers and staff. As an institution with a mission to develop men and women for others, our intent has been to do the right thing by the people we employ while preserving our authority as an independent, Catholic Jesuit school,” they continued.
Following their statement, the Archdiocese of Indianapolis released their own declaring that all Catholic schools in the archdiocese are required to state in their contracts that all teachers “must convey and be supportive of all teachings of the Catholic Church.”
“To effectively bear witness to Christ, whether they teach religion or not, all ministers in their professional and private lives must convey and be supportive of Catholic Church teaching,” they continued. “The Archdiocese of Indianapolis recognizes all teachers, guidance counselors and administrators as ministers.”
The canonical decree officially stripping the Jesuit school of its Catholic affiliation came on Friday at the direction of Archbishop Charles Thompson.
Brebeuf President William Verbryke insisted the archdiocese’s decision would not affect the school’s mission.
The decision by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis is the latest in a series of firings of LGBT schoolteachers from Catholic institutions, however the decision by the high school to resist the archdiocese’s demands is unique.
The Jesuits have vowed to appeal the decision, first to the archdiocese, and then, if necessary, to Rome.