Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Catholic schools and kids with two mommies

I've just been reading Jimmy Aikin's blog at the Register about a controversy that has arisen with regards to the admission of children with same-sex parents to Catholic schools.
Reading through the comments, you get a pretty clear lay of the land: there are those who accept the Church's teaching on same-sex relationships, and who think that the Archbishop's decision was completely justified, and there are those who obviously do not accept the Church's teaching, and who think that it's cruel and evil discrimination. So I'm going to weigh in as a Catholic who accepts the Church's teaching on same-sex relationships/marriage/sexuality/etc. but who thinks that the decision to bar these children from Catholic schools is a little...well, Pharisaical.
If the school also kicked kids out because their parents were divorced, or cohabiting, or whatnot, then it would at least be consistent -- but the Archbishop is clear that this is not the case: "Many of our schools also accept students of other faiths and no faith, and from single parent and divorced parent families." The reality is that any opposite-sex couple, no matter how far they deviate from the Church's teachings about marriage, is given the glance-over by mainstream Catholic culture, and any same-sex couple is lambasted -- even if they are actually closer to the ideal of Catholic marriage than their opposite-sex counterparts.
That last clause might sound counter-intuitive, but lets examine this issue: let's say that you've got, on the one hand, a lesbian couple -- we'll name them Barb and Di, just for fun. Barb IDs as bi, she had a male partner before she and Di got together, and she got pregnant. She's Catholic, and she doesn't believe in abortion, so she has a child. Now she and Di have decided that they are going to get married, in accord with the laws of their state. They are monogamous and fully committed to a life-long relationship, and they are trying to raise their child, to the best of their ability, in accord with the teachings of the Catholic Church. They attend Mass, and apart from their sexuality, they are faithful, practicing Catholics. (Yes, such people really do exist.) On the other hand, you have a couple -- Sue and Ted -- who got divorced three years ago. Sue has put her kid into Catholic school to please the grandparents. Neither she nor Ted believes in the Catholic faith. They don't go to Mass. Sue has had several live-in boyfriends since she and Ted split up.
Now, as far as admission to Catholic schools are concerned, Sue's kid is in, and Barb's kid is out. There's something seriously wrong with this picture. It's called a double standard.
The argument that Barb and Di are causing scandal simply doesn't wash. Anyone who is a friend of Sue's child will know about the divorce. They will know that every couple of months, Sue has a different man living in the house. There will be scandal. Every bit as much scandal as the lesbian couple is causing. But no one will say anything, because Sue's situation will be considered "private" "delicate" "none of our business," whereas Barb and Di's will make good copy for the week-end edition.


  1. Melinda -

    I thought your analysis was right on. A couple of comments:

    1) The great lesbian baby boom isn't going to go away. A significant number of lesbian couples will want to raise their children as Catholics, notwithstanding thier disagreement with Church doctrine on this one issue. Really - whom among us doesn't have some issue with some part of Doctrine?

    2) Will the children of such couples be denied baptism? If they can't attend Catholic school will they at least be able to prepare for first communion by attending CCD , or would the same "scandalization" problem apply there. Maybe CCD teachers can start side businesses privately tutoring for sacramental preparation children of gay families so they can learn thier faith but not contaminate other children.

    3) Even if children of gays are excluded, Catholic school kids will know at an early age that some kids have two mommies. They'll meet them through Little League, the local playground etc. and learn about it in the media.

    Maybe I'm sensitive to this because I live in the Bay Area where it's common. BTW there are a fair number of children with gay parents in our Archdiocesan schools and have been for years.

    Pax tucem

    Greg Smith

  2. If a school were to bar a person from registering her child, because she was publically known as a public advocate of any kind of immoral behaviour whatsoever, I would expect the exact same moral decision by the bishop. Leave the gay thing aside. It's three factors:

    If one of the two-mommies in the original case, had quietly hung about in the shadows, while the other nearly anonymously registered her child, as a single parent, then there probably would have been no difference in how this would be treated, versus a single mother who brings her child in to register her for school.

    Nobody gets asked when they sign up their kid for school "are you having illicit sexual relationships outside of the sacred bonds of marriage?".

    Nobody should have to ask, and nobody should ever have to say anything about such a thing, other than voluntarily to their priest. However, if one is publically flaunting one's views and practices, then it's another thing entirely.

    The argument that "they aren't actively rooting out those who are quiet (non-gay) adulterers, therefore they should not block public (proud) adulterers" holds no water.

    If you were to substitute any "public, unapologetic flaunting of an extremely public and grave divergence from the morality proper to all persons", for their own, you would expect rightfully the same reaction.

    How did this matter reach the attention of the bishop? Does the bishop approve each and every child? No. Obviously someone went in the front door, and maybe brought the TV crew with them.


    If they had done the same things privately, silently, and hidden, as most adulterers do,
    then nobody would know of their sins, and thus be guilty of tacit condonation.

    What you hide from others, you render them not responsible for. What you flaunt before others, you require of them an answer.

    Tolerate me, accept me, praise me, and everything I do. You have to. Look I brought a guy with a camera.


  3. Warren - Read the National Catholic Reporter's interview with the Moms. They disclosed their situation to the school, as they should have, but didn't "flaunt" it. According the their narrative, the Archdiocese got involved before some Sacred Heart parents and/ or teachers, went to the press.

    Greg Smith

  4. If the mother(s) disclosed it, then those who have received that disclosure may have felt a bit of scruples in tacitly condoning it. And if so, then it was good that their conscience was in order. If their conscience was out of order, it's good that the consciences of those in the diocese were fully functional. However warm and fuzzy some people would feel if this had been condoned, it would have upset, and given scandal (and with good cause) to many times as many people. Minimizing such a moral matter as if it could achieve insignificance is never acceptable.


  5. Warren - I don't see how giving baptized Catholic children a Catholic education is "condoning" anything other than the Good News of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

    A few years ago my lesbian co-worker in the next office screwed up her back. Her then two year old was in one of her moods and wouldn't walk the block and a half to their car. I carried the little girl there and strapped her into her car seat. I asked "Will you be OK when you get home?" "Oh yeah" she answered. "My partner will be waiting for us. Thanks."

    Really - how far does this thing go. Was I "condoning" or "giving scandal?" I didn't think about it at the time but now I have to ask, in the same situation, WWJD?

  6. Also, in the article, divorce isn't an issue, it's re-marriage. The Church acknowledges that there are situations that require the couple to legal divorce. However, it's how they live afterward that matters. Did they get a decree of nullity (an annulment)?


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