Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver weighed-in today on the recent decision to not re-enroll the child of a lesbian couple in a local Catholic school. The archbishop explained, “If parents don’t respect the beliefs of the Church, or live in a manner that openly rejects those beliefs, then partnering with those parents becomes very difficult, if not impossible.”
Staff members at Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Boulder, Colorado were told early last week that that an attending preschooler and kindergartner, whose two parents are women, would not be re-enrolled after they finished the 2010-2011 school year.
After mostly negative media coverage, Archbishop Chaput dedicated his weekly column in the Denver Catholic Register to addressing the decision to not offer enrollment to the Boulder, Colo. preschooler.
The Denver archbishop began by discussing the historical background of Catholic schools in America, which he explained were founded in the 19th century “as an alternative to the public schools of the day, which taught a curriculum often hostile to Catholic belief.”
“In many ways times have changed, but the mission of Catholic schools has not,” the prelate stated. “The main purpose of Catholic schools is religious; in other words, to form students in Catholic faith, Catholic morality and Catholic social values.”
The archbishop explained that “Many of our schools also accept students of other faiths and no faith, and from single parent and divorced parent families. These students are always welcome so long as their parents support the Catholic mission of the school and do not offer a serious counter-witness to that mission in their actions.”
“Our schools, however, exist primarily to serve Catholic families with an education shaped by Catholic faith and moral formation. This is common sense,” he added. “Other religious traditions do the same according to their beliefs, and at a heavy sacrifice. We need to remember that Catholic families pay twice for a Catholic education: through their taxes, they fund public education; then they pay again to send their children to a Catholic school.”
Therefore, the “idea that Catholic schools should require support for Catholic teaching for admission, and a serious effort from school families to live their Catholic identity faithfully, is reasonable and just,” Archbishop Chaput noted.
He also wrote that the “Church never looks for reasons to turn anyone away from a Catholic education. But the Church can’t change her moral beliefs without undermining her mission and failing to serve the many families who believe in that mission.”
“If Catholics take their faith seriously, they naturally follow the teachings of the Church in matters of faith and morals; otherwise they take themselves outside the believing community,” he explained.
Archbishop Chaput also stressed that the “Church does not claim that people with a homosexual orientation are 'bad,' or that their children are less loved by God. Quite the opposite. But what the Church does teach is that sexual intimacy by anyone outside marriage is wrong; that marriage is a sacramental covenant; and that marriage can only occur between a man and a woman.”
“These beliefs are central to a Catholic understanding of human nature, family and happiness, and the organization of society,” he said. “The Church cannot change these teachings because, in the faith of Catholics, they are the teachings of Jesus Christ.”
In light of this, the “policies of our Catholic school system exist to protect all parties involved, including the children of homosexual couples and the couples themselves,” said the prelate.
“Our schools are meant to be 'partners in faith' with parents. If parents don’t respect the beliefs of the Church, or live in a manner that openly rejects those beliefs, then partnering with those parents becomes very difficult, if not impossible.”
“It also places unfair stress on the children, who find themselves caught in the middle, and on their teachers, who have an obligation to teach the authentic faith of the Church,” he added.
Archbishop Chaput concluded his remarks saying that “Most parents who send their children to Catholic schools want an environment where the Catholic faith is fully taught and practiced. That simply can’t be done if teachers need to worry about wounding the feelings of their students or about alienating students from their parents. That isn’t fair to anyone – including the wider school community.”
“Persons who have an understanding of marriage and family life sharply different from Catholic belief are often people of sincerity and good will. They have other, excellent options for education and should see in them the better course for their children.”
To read Archbishop Chaput's column, visit: http://www.archden.org/index.cfm/ID/3560