Because she was a lay Catholic and her contract included a salary, Fratello was hired on a "lay" contract even though her job would be ministerial. A diocesan priest would have received a similar contract, Rassbach noted.
And Fratello emphasized her religious credentials when she applied to be the principal at St. Anthony's, Rassbach said. She praised herself as an "excellent religious leader."
Fratello's lawyer, Michael Diederich, has written openly of his disdain for the Church. He wrote a scathing reply to a "friend of the court" brief filed by the Orthodox Church of America on behalf of the archdiocese, where he expressed contempt for "organized religion" as a threat to "enlightened rationality."
Fratello should have been kept in her position by the archdiocese because as a secular employee, she could protect students against religious indoctrination, he argued.
He said that "our American democracy" would be "undermined if religious groups can propagandize and indoctrinate school children without the constraint of a loyal American citizen and educator (e.g., a lay school teacher or principal) insisting that secular curriculum be properly taught."
Diederich disparaged "organized religion" in the U.S., and warned that the Roman Catholic Church is "the most powerful church on Earth," and that by the archdiocese getting the Orthodox Church to file a brief the Roman Catholic Church "has sounded the alarm to enlist the support for organized religion in an effort to gain even more power and influence that organized religion already has in civil society."
America's founders, "people of the Age of Enlightenment – would not approve of judicial advancement of religion," he continued. According to Diederich, the founders believed "that organized religion and religious dogma are dangerous to a society, and what a society needs is enlightened rationality."
And he hypothesized about the Orthodox Church indoctrinating children with "Stalinist beliefs" if its school teachers operate in a ministerial capacity.
Matt Hadro was the political editor at Catholic News Agency through October 2021. He previously worked as CNA senior D.C. correspondent and as a press secretary for U.S. Congressman Chris Smith.