After LGBT teachers resign, Seattle archbishop says teachers must be Gospel witnesses

Seattle, Wash., Feb 21, 2020 / 06:04 pm (CNA).- After students at a Catholic high school in Washington state staged protests in support of two teachers who resigned their posts in order to civilly marry their same-sex partners, the Archbishop of Seattle said that teachers in Catholic schools must live Catholic doctrine.

“Pastors and church leaders need to be clear about the church’s teaching, while at the same time refraining from making judgments, taking into consideration the complexity of people’s lived situations. We are always called to compassion as we journey with our people. The end goal of walking together in faith is to help people embrace the fullness of the Gospel message and integrate the faith more deeply into their lives,” Archbishop Paul Etienne of Seattle said in a statement Feb. 19.

“Those who teach in our schools are required to uphold our teaching in the classroom and to model it in their personal lives. We recognize and support the right of each individual to make choices. We also understand that some choices have particular consequences for those who represent the church in an official capacity,” the archbishop added.

The statement came after Michelle Beattie and Paul Danforth of Kennedy Catholic High School in Burien, Washington voluntarily resigned last week, according to school officials, although the teachers later retained an attorney. They have not opened legal action against the school, and have not yet spoken out publicly, but their attorney has said the teachers expected the Archdiocese of Seattle to terminate the employment.

A statement from the school last week praised the teachers as "highly capable, gifted and qualified teachers who have served our community with dedication and humility. Their loss will be felt deeply by their students and the entire community. We are thankful to Paul and Michelle for their years of service."

Some students at the high school staged a sit-in and a walkout on Feb. 18 in support of the teachers.  Students, as well as parents and alumni of the school, also staged a protest outside the diocesan chancery in Seattle.

Michael Prato, president of Kennedy Catholic, said in a statement that the two teachers approached him in November 2019 to share their desire to civilly marry their same-sex partners. 

The teachers had voluntarily signed a covenant agreement to “live and model the Catholic faith in accord with Church teaching,” Prato said. In light of the agreement they signed, both chose to resign, he said.

“I hired these teachers and I care about them very much. I still do,” Prato said.

“I wanted to make sure they felt supported, and so we discussed several options including the possibility of finishing out the school year.”

He said he gave the teachers the option to select the date they wanted to resign, and they indicated they wished to resign prior to the winter break in February. He said they also worked out a transition plan and financial package for the teachers.

In the United States, various Catholic schools and dioceses have faced lawsuits from employees who have been fired after contracting civil same-sex marriages in violation of the diocesan or school policy.

The Catholic Church teaches that while homosexual inclinations are not sinful, homosexual acts “are contrary to the natural law…under no circumstances can they be approved.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church goes on to say 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.”

However, in 2003, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said 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 and, as far as possible, from material cooperation on the level of their application. In this area, everyone can exercise the right to conscientious objection,” the CDF added.





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  1. Archbishop Paul Etienne of Seattle courage to embrace the Gospel teachings in the Archdiocese of Seattle is to be respected and commended. I applaud the Archbishop for moving towards a respect for traditional marriage. He does so in the face of state legislators who want to re-locate all planned parenthood facilities into the public schools (since they no longer have access to Federal funds), beginning with the middle schools. The legislature has current bills to have mandatory sex education on homosexual and transgender issues, and gender theory (a heresy in the eyes of Pope Francis) in the public grade schools systems. The State of Washington legislature wants to advance the homosexual agenda to have access to the public school’s children through indoctrination. Seattle has a lesbian Mayor after the previous Mayor resigned for being a pedophile. The Archbishop is swimming against the current, and is championing the rights of children in Catholic schools. Good for him. Let the Catholic Schools be a safe haven for children against the secular world’s gender theories that the Catholic Church regards as heresy.

  2. Once again a double standard. All Catholic teachers who sign such pledges are faced with choices and challenges. Yet those who use birth control, divorce and remarry, masturbate or have sex prior to marriage remain. Kudos to the students for speaking up. Perhaps families opposed to hypocrisy will choose other schools for their children.

    • The decision to marry is a public statement of intent to commit to a way of life. The teachers who decided to marry same-sex partners were publicly stating they intend to live in a way contrary to the teaching of the Church. That is why it is just they resigned from teaching in a Catholic school.

      • The prior commentator has a point about divorce and re-marriage. That is clearly a public commitment to lead a life contrary to the teaching of the Church.

  3. Thank you Archbishop Paul Etienne from the bottom of my heart! We must, we must defend the precepts of the Church! I love you for your courage, knowing the outrage you would suffer. The Church needs MORE like you willing to stand up for Christ! But we, as a Church, must go further! We must help these poor LGBT people find their true humanity. These poor souls are sick and that demands our help and compassion. The Church must do more! We cannot simply let these people go along with their current life but convince them of their erroneous and sinful choice of a lifestyle. They, as fallen souls need our help, not our approval OR OUR VOTES! Silence is not an option when truth is compromised!

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