As controversy swirls around the Archdiocese of Boston's decision to undermine a pastor who denied enrollment in a Catholic elementary school to a lesbian couple's child, Dale O'Leary, a noted Catholic author and international lecturer, is defending the Catholic Church's right to protect what she calls “the best interests of all the children.”
In an article provided to CNA, O'Leary argues that the Catholic Church cannot and will not compromise on Church teachings or “hide the truth.” Because of this, she notes, an awkward and potentially harmful situation for same-sex couples seeking admission for their children in Catholic schools may emerge.
“What is in the best interest of the children of same-sex couples and the other children?” O'Leary asks. “If they accept the children in the school, the children will either be alienated from their parents on whom they rely or alienated from God who would be seen as condemning their parents’ choices.”
“While older children might be able to understand and even appreciate the Church’s teaching, younger children certainly will not,” she added. “To them it will just seem mean. It will put the teachers in an untenable position and confuse the children’s classmates.”
“Therefore,” she argues, “it is reasonable for Catholic elementary schools to explain to same-sex couples that this is not the place for their children.”
Ms. Dale O'Leary's article “Catholic Schools” is published below.
by Dale O’Leary
Today Catholic schools, and Catholic elementary schools in particular, face a difficult problem. What should they do when parents, who are openly living contrary to the Church’s specific teachings on marriage and sexuality, want their children admitted? The teachers cannot -- must not -- compromise Catholic moral teachings, that is the very reason for their school’s existence, but in doing so they realize that they will be teaching the children that some of their parents’ choices are wrong. The teachers cannot water down the Church’s teachings because there are children in the class that come from broken homes or live in homes with two ‘mommies” or two “daddies.”.
The concept of father and mother is central to Catholic theology. God is our Father in Heaven, not a generic parent. Jesus is our brother, and therefore the Blessed Mother is our mother. Every biological father has from the moment his child is conceived the awesome responsibility of being an image of God the father. Failure to do this carries terrible consequence for the child’s faith and sense of security and for society. Two mommies or no mommy is not God’s plan.
Every child has a biological father and mother. Separation from one or both parents is always perceived by the child as a loss. A fatherless family is not equal to a father/mother family. Tragedies happen – death, divorce, desertion, single parenthood. When they do, the adults involved must cope as best they can, but no one should purposefully make a tragedy.
When two women decide to conceive a child by artificial insemination donor, they are purposefully creating a tragedy. Given the limited number of children available for adoption, children should not be placed in homes with two parents of the same sex.
Teachers in a Catholic school cannot promote “diversity” in family styles. They cannot pretend that Heather has two Mommies or that it is good for Gloria to go to Gay Pride rallies.
Parents who send their children to Catholic schools need to understand this. If, in spite of this, same-sex couples insist on applying, they need to be told in no uncertain terms that were their children admitted they would be taught what the Church teaches and if their child’s classmates ask why Suzie has two mommies, they will be told that Suzie has one mommy and another woman lives in their house, but God’s plan is for every child to have a mommy and a daddy.
What about children whose parents divorce and one or both remarries?
If the parents choose a Catholic school or even CCD for their children, the teachers cannot compromise the truth.
I was given the responsibility of presenting the Church’s teaching on marriage and divorce to a seventh grade class. In the front row was a boy whose family I knew. His father had recently divorced the boy’s mother to marry a younger woman. I presented the teaching clearly and unambiguously. The boy looked me in the eye and said, “Are you saying that God doesn’t like divorce?”
“Yes,” I responded, “in the book of the prophet Malachi it says God hates divorce.”
He replied, “Good.”
I knew that this boy had borne the pain of divorce and he was glad that God was on his side. We must be on the side of the children. We cannot assume that the children want to be protected from the truth.
Persons in same-sex relationships who have children naturally want to protect their children’s feelings. They aren’t going to want their children to be exposed to the truth. A Catholic school cannot agree to hide the truth.
Once people go down the wrong path, there are no good answers. Either the children will be denied the benefits of a Catholic education and feel rejected because they can’t go to Catholic school or they will be admitted and then find out that God doesn’t approve of their parents’ choices or they will be admitted and the school will compromise its principles. If this happens, the other students will be confused about the Church’s teaching and not understand why God doesn’t approve of Suzie’s mommies who so nice and bring cookies and help out in the cafeteria.
So what is the school to do? What is in the best interest of the children of same-sex couples and the other children? If they accept the children in the school, the children will either be alienated from their parents on whom they rely or alienated from God who would be seen as condemning their parents’ choices. While older children might be able to understand and even appreciate the Church’s teaching, younger children certainly will not. To them it will just seem mean. It will put the teachers in an untenable position and confuse the children’s classmates. Therefore, it is reasonable for Catholic elementary schools to explain to same-sex couples that this is not the place for their children.
The real question is: Why would a same-sex couple want their children in a Catholic school? Surely, they know the Catholic Church’s teaching. If they think that teaching will change, they are gravely mistaken. One can only assume that they hope that their presence at school events and their acceptance into the community will undermine that teaching and they are using their children as pawns.
The Catholic Church has every right not to allow its schools to be used in this way and in doing so, they are protecting the best interests of all the children.