Commission rules priest suffered discrimination, reinstates him as hospital chaplain

.- Fr. Henry Heffernan is expected to return to work as a chaplain at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center March 15, after proving that the administration had fired him for his Catholic beliefs.

According to the records in the lawsuit, beginning in 1999, Fr. Heffernan repeatedly raised concerns at the Bethesda hospital about the incongruence between the practices and teachings of the Catholic faith and the practices advocated by his immediate supervisor.

At the heart of the case, is the concept of generic or multi-faith chaplaincy. The priest of 45 years noted that under the multi-faith concept, a non-Catholic, who would be unable to offer the Sacraments, could minister to Catholic patients. Fr. Heffernan believed that he would be compromising his faith by permitting this type of chaplaincy for Catholic patients.

His employer claimed he was fired for failing to attend entry-level continuing education programs.

But the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that “a preponderance of the evidence establishes that the supervisor's decision to discharge complainant, based on the failure to comply with the training certification requirement, was motivated by discriminatory and retaliatory animus."

The commission went on to document animosity at NIH towards Catholics. Evidence included testimony from a contract chaplain who stated that the supervisor would joke about Catholic priests being pedophiles and said he "would never hire another Roman Catholic priest again." Another chaplain testified that the supervisor boasted that he had done things to provoke Fr. Heffernan in order to discharge him, like instituting the continuing education requirement.

The Merit Systems Protection Board came to the same conclusion as the commission in a Feb. 23 ruling.

In discussing the ruling, lead attorney Irving Kator of Kator, Parks & Weiser said in a statement: "Here a government agency was punishing a Catholic priest for embracing his religion. It's truly an astonishing abuse of his first amendment rights, and raises questions about why a taxpayer-funded government organization would be dictating to a clergyman how he should be practicing his faith."

The law firm is also defending a Jewish chaplain who was fired by the same management after testifying in defense of Fr. Heffernan.

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages


Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic

Liturgical Calendar

April 24, 2014

Thursday within the Octave of Easter

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Lk 24:35-48


Daily Readings

First Reading:: Acts 3:11-26
Gospel:: Lk 24:35-48

Saint of the Day

Easter Sunday »


Homily of the Day

Lk 24:35-48


Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
Text only

Follow us: