Regis Jesuit High School, in the eastern Denver suburb of Aurora, offers single-sex instruction in both a boy’s and a girl’s divisions, with almost 1,700 students combined. About 1 in 3 students receive need-based financial aid, though tuition is over $19,000 per year.
The Archdiocese of Denver provided to CNA a Dec. 23 letter from Archbishop Samuel Aquila about the controversy.
Aquila said many families reached out to him to voice their “deep concerns” about the essay. He said he was “deeply troubled” that an essay advocating a position “in direct contradiction to the Church’s teaching on the sanctity of life” was allowed to be published in a Catholic school.
He described abortion and euthanasia as “the preeminent issues for the Catholic Church today.” Aquila cited Pope Francis’ own description of abortion as “an absolute evil.” He added that it is his duty as Archbishop of Denver to ensure that Catholic institutions in the archdiocese are faithful to Church teachings.
“I am grateful that the leadership of Regis Jesuit High School promptly retracted the article and addressed this situation recognizing the failure that took place in allowing this article to be published,” he said.
Aquila welcomed the high school leadership’s commitment to defending Church teaching. He said he deeply desires to support this and has asked his staff to help them ensure there is “deeply faithful Catholic formation” for all students, faculty, and staff.
“Catholic schools exist to be sanctuaries of education where students can come to encounter Jesus, be transformed by a relationship with him, grow in wisdom and virtue, and discover their call for their lives as young men and women created in God’s image and likeness,” the archbishop said.
It is “vital” to understand this mission for Christians “in a time where moral relativism has consumed our society and culture, and where to proclaim truth is considered oppressive and bigoted.”
“Knowing truth leads to true freedom and human flourishing because it leads to Jesus, he who rescues us and gives us the fullness of abundant life,” Aquila said.
According to the archbishop, Catholic schools “must be fully pro-life institutions” and need to defend the sanctity of human life and to form students to help free them from “the culture of death that pervades our world today.”
“As such, faculty and staff of Catholic schools must be pro-life,” he said. Faithful Catholic schools need to be led by faithful educators “in love with Jesus Christ and his Church”, who witness to the truth of the Gospel.
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Both faculty advisors for the Regis Jesuit publication confirmed to the Aurora-based newspaper Sentinel Colorado that they no longer work at the school.
One of the advisors, Nicole Arduini, told the Denver Post she was let go after the column was published.
“I am saddened about the situation,” she said. “I enjoyed teaching student journalism and am proud to have worked with an amazing group of young journalists.”
The school’s student editorial policies say that advisors will not act as censor or determine media content, the Denver Post reports.
“Rather, the advisers will teach journalistic skills and guide the students in making sound legal and ethical decisions,” said the policies. “School officials, administration or faculty and staff, likewise, shall not practice prior review or to censor any student media, with the exception of material deemed to be legally obscene, libelous, substantially and materially disruptive.”
The high school is a separate institution from Regis University, but both are affiliated with the Society of Jesus.