Kammes, a decorated lacrosse coach, had previously coached at a Catholic school in Lombard, Illinois. She said in a statement that she is “truly humbled by the outpouring of support” and expressed hope that “the LGBTQ+ community at Benet and other Catholic institutions, felt supported, loved, and know that they are not alone.”
Mary Massingale, director of communications for the Joliet diocese, told CNA via email that Benet Academy is operated by the Order of St. Benedict, and is not under the purview of the Diocese of Joliet, which was “not involved in the decision-making process.”
Nearby St. Procopius Abbey, whose abbott serves as chancellor to the school, declined to comment to CNA.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that people with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" should be "accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided."
A 2003 document of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith taught that "in those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty...One must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws.”
Stephen Marth, head of school at Benet Academy, released a letter to the school community Sept. 22.
“As a person who has been raised Catholic, attended Catholic schools from kindergarten through graduate school, and devoted a substantial portion of my professional career to leadership in Catholic schools, I am truly committed to the value of educating our young people in the faith and in helping them to understand that, as they mature, they will have to struggle all the more with the complexities that result when authentic Church teaching is applied to situations encountered in life,” Marth wrote.
“I am not a theologian, a psychiatrist, or a mediation specialist, and I have no pretention [sic] of possessing great wisdom with regard to how Catholic Church leadership and lay membership might best resolve some of the issues that have fractured our Church and / or caused some to leave the Church altogether. I am certain, however, that two things will be helpful in going forward – honest dialogue and patience,” he continued.
“How best to structure and ultimately accomplish this respectful discourse at Benet is something that will be receiving the focused attention of Benet leadership in the days and weeks ahead. My sincere hope is that the entire Benet family will come together and exercise mutual respect as we continue to fulfill the school’s mission.”
Marth, in an earlier letter, had encouraged students to wear symbols of the cross or crucifixes to school, which represent “God’s unconditional love for each and every one of us despite our human weaknesses, brokenness, and sinfulness,” rather than rainbow “pride” symbols, which for some “represent an affirmation of a particular lifestyle or life choices that the Church, in her wisdom, does not and cannot condone.”
However, in response, some parents called for his resignation.
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According to a May 26 letter, Marth's position as head of school was created earlier this year with three foci, one of which is the “carrying out of the school's mission and vision”.
The school's mission statement says, in part, that the academy will have achieved its mission if graduating seniors leave it "having learned to incorporate the principles of Christian morality into all aspects of their daily lives".
CNA reached out to Marth for further information about how the decision in this case might affect future hiring decisions at the school, but did not receive a response by press time.
A Chicago radio personality on Wednesday shared online an excerpt of a letter, purportedly from a current Benet Academy parent to the school board, in which the parent expressed concern that Kammes’ hiring puts the school’s Catholic identity in jeopardy.
“A person who publicly lives outside the moral teaching of the Church on matters of human sexuality and marriage cannot model for students the truth and virtues that Benet seeks to instill in its students,” the letter reads in part.
“Moreover, if it hires Ms. Kammes there will be no limiting principle to this going forward. The school will have no basis for refusing to hire anyone in the future who dissents from the Church on grave matters of moral teaching. There will be no principled way it can refuse to hire a qualified teacher or coach who works weekends as a clinic escort for women seeking abortions at Planned Parenthood.”