Chalk it up to turning the other cheek, or perhaps a blind eye, but the superintendent of parochial schools in Hingham, MA says she’ll help the 3rd grader who who was banned from attending St. Paul Elementary School because of having lesbian parents find another Catholic school to attend.
The Associated Press reports that superintendent Mary Grassa O’Neill said in a statement discordant with the school’s actions, “We believe that every parent who wishes to send their child to a Catholic school should have the opportunity to pursue that dream.” That dream? Of sending their child to Catholic school? People dream about sending their kids to Harvard, sure. But sending your kid to Catholic school shouldn’t be something you have to dream about. It should be an easily achieved reality. The Church finally accepting homosexuality as natural and not a disease or sin – now that’s a dream.
The family at the heart of the controversy has remained anonymous, but the parent O’Neill spoke with said “she was uncertain she would enroll her son in another Catholic school because she needed to learn more about their educational programs.” It seems odd to me that a parent wouldn’t understand religious education is a major component of attending Catholic school, a point O’Neill drove home. She said, “The schools expect parents to understand that the teachings of the Church are an important component of the curriculum and are part of the students’ educational experience,” but also stressed that the Boston Archdiocese “doesn’t bar children of same-sex parents from attending Catholic schools, and that it will develop a policy in the coming weeks to make that clear.”
The Boston Globe reports that “the Family Equality Council, a rights group for gay and lesbian families, called the exclusion of the student indefensible.” Executive director Jennifer Chrisler said Thursday, “If the parents of the child want their son’s admission reinstated, the school should welcome him back immediately.” Right. It doesn’t make sense that the Boston Archdiocese has the autonomy to suggest they wouldn’t deny the child of gay people access to education, yet the individual schools have the same freedom to reject a student with gay parents. If the Archdiocese is willing to allow the boy to attend a Catholic school, why not St. Paul’s?
In her Faith & Reason column today, USA Today’s Cathy Lynn Grossman brings to light an important distinction between the plight of the Boston family and a similar fight that took place earlier this year in Boulder, CO. In that case, the ”Denver Archdiocese backed Rev. Bill Breslin in booting” a student with lesbian moms from his school. Breslin said:
If a child of gay parents comes to our school, and we teach that gay marriage is against the will of God, then the child will think that we are saying their parents are bad. We don’t want to put any child in that tough position – nor do we want to put the parents, or the teachers, at odds with the teachings of the Catholic Church. Why would good parents want their children to learn something they don’t believe in?
I have to say, I agree. I was raised Catholic and left the Church, not because I don’t believe in God, but because I disagree with its stance on so many social issues. And yes, I have attended mass with my mother a handful of times across the years, because that’s my right as a Baptised and Confirmed member of the flock. A flock… of sheep, who are not supposed to question the directives of the Pope. And I understand that – an organized religion should have an organized opinion on social issues. After all, morality is a huge part of religion. So pick a stance and stick with it, guys. (I say guys, because the Church doesn’t listen to women.) But as Father Breslin said in response to the Denver incident, the church-as-corporate-entity doesn’t work if ”everyone can have their own interpretation of what is goodness and truth.” And while I would love for the Church to truly live the Gospel and love all people, including homosexuals, I’m not holding my breath. Or sending my child to Catholic school.