Catholic priest says he was fired from New Jersey college’s ministry over support of pro-gay marriage No H8 Campaign


he former director of New Jersey school Seton Hall University’s campus ministry lost his job because he agreed on social media with a gay marriage equality group, Rev. Warren Hall said Friday on Twitter.

The tweet, which has been taken down, said he got canned for using his Facebook page to back California-based NoH8 Campaign, which began in 2008 in response to the state’s Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriage.

“I’ve been fired from SHU for posting a pic on FB supporting LGBT ‘No H8’.” Hall previously wrote, according to NJ Advance Media. “I’m sorry it was met with this response. I’ll miss my work here.”

Representatives for the South Orange-based Roman Catholic university told the publication that the priest was appointed by the Archbishop of Newark and “serves at his discretion.”

A screenshot shows the tweet in which Hall announced he was fired Friday.

A spokesman for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark, Jim Goodness, declined to disclose the reasons for Hall’s dismissal in an interview with NJ Advance Media. He said Hall was being reassigned within the archdiocese, which covers Bergen, Union, Hudson and Essex counties.

Goodness didn’t immediately return a request for comment early Sunday morning.

The move immediately provoked alumni and students, who started a petition demanding his reinstatement.

A file photo shows an entrance to Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J., where controversy has erupted over the firing of the Catholic university’s campus ministry director.

“The Archdiocese of Newark’s decision to fire Father Warren Hall from Seton Hall University is in line with neither the teachings of Jesus Christ nor the words of Pope Francis,” the group’s letter to the archdiocese said.

The petition, which had garnered 1,225 signers by early Sunday morning, said Hall “contributed greatly to the academic and spiritual lives of the students.”

Efforts to contact Hall on Sunday morning were unsuccessful. He thanked his supporters in a Tweet he posted later Friday.

warren hallThe controversy over a mainstay who provided spiritual guidance to the school’s sports teams erupted as the Pirates men’s basketball team attempted to recruit potential University of Massachusetts transfer Derrick Gordon, the first ever openly gay Division I player, the Asbury Park Press reported.

In 2010, the school began offering a course on the politics of gay marriage over the objections of Newark Archbishop John J. Myers, who heads both the Board of Regents and the Board of Trustees, the Newark Star-Ledger reported at the time. The school went ahead with the undergraduate seminar despite Myers’ objection that the class legitimized a point of view “running contrary to what the church teaches,” according to the publication.
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Colombian bishop floats idea of gay apostle, lesbian Mary Magdalene

Bishop Juan Vicente Córdoba says ‘no one chooses to be gay or straight’

By Inés San Martín

A Colombian bishop, insisting that being homosexual is not a sin, said Thursday it’s possible that one of the twelve apostles of Jesus was gay or that Mary Magdalene, another key New Testament figure, was a lesbian.

Bishop Juan Vicente Córdoba of Fontibón, Colombia, also said the Catholic Church does not oppose same-sex couples making a life together, but does not consider such arrangements to be a marriage or a family.

“No one chooses to be gay or straight,” Córdoba said. “One simply feels, loves, experiments, is attracted, and no attraction is bad.”

Córdoba was speaking at a conference about gay marriage and adoption hosted by the local University of Los Andes, at a time when Colombia is debating gay marriage and adoption rights.

Although Córdoba reiterated Church teaching when it comes to marriage – that it’s a union between a man and a woman, permanent, and open to children – he said that homosexuality isn’t a sin.

“Sin is something else. It’s not respecting the dignity of others. Not loving God and our neighbors as we love ourselves, not feeding the hungry, not giving water to the thirsty,” Córdoba said.

He added that he prefers “a thousand times over” for Colombians to have dignity, a proper health system and food for all, rather than talking about whether they’re gay or straight.

According to local reports, Córdoba said that in the Bible there’s no explicit rejection of homosexuality, suggesting there’s no basis for making a condemnation of homosexuality a Church doctrine.

“We don’t know if one of Jesus’ disciples” had a same-sex orientation, he said. “We don’t know either if Mary Magdalene was a lesbian.”

In the New Testament, there are hints that Mary Magdalene, a close follower of Jesus, was a prostitute. Córdoba said that may suggest she wasn’t actually a lesbian, but “we don’t know.”

Talking about same-sex adoption, the bishop, who heads the Commission on Life of the Colombian Episcopal Conference and was ordained bishop in 2004, said that children have the right to be raised by a mother and a father.

“We shouldn’t force minors to grow up under a gay couple, because when they become adolescents they’ll say they would have wanted to have a mom and a dad,” Córdoba said.

Córdoba said that the decision on gay marriage and adoption rights can’t be left “in the hands of a few,” adding that a referendum would be the right way to make the call.

He also asked for the debate not to be reduced to a political standoff.

“This is not a ‘genitals’ battle,” he said. Today the battles have to be in favor of the dignity of the poor, those that are not being heard,” Córdoba said.

If gay marriage is eventually legalized, Córdoba issued a challenge to homosexuals in Colombia.

“Gay brothers, when you get married, have nice homes, based in fidelity, and educate your children with love, preoccupied for the poor, the needy, so that there’s justice in Colombia,” he said.

Córdoba asked those in favor of the gay rights bill not to call the opposition “recalcitrant, dinosaurs, cavemen, retarded, because we also have the right to present our ideas and our emotions with respect.”

“There will come a time when the Catholic Church is a minority that will be crushed by the majority,” he warned. “Let us respect each other, without using adjectives or telling anyone they’re sick or disordered.”

“We can spare all the adjectives,” Córdoba said. “We have a noun, and it’s that we’re brothers and sisters.”
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German Catholic Church opens labour law more to divorced and gays

By Tom Heneghan

(CURA Catholic hospital in Bad Honnef, Germany, February 2014/Leit)
CURA Catholic hospital in Bad Honnef, Germany

Germany’s Roman Catholic Church, an influential voice for reforms prompted by Pope Francis, has decided lay Catholic employees who divorce and remarry or form gay civil unions should no longer automatically lose their jobs.

Catholic bishops have voted to adjust Church labour law “to the multiple changes in legal practice, legislation and society” so employee lifestyles should not affect their status in the country’s many Catholic schools, hospitals and social services.

The change came as the worldwide Catholic Church debates loosening its traditional rejection of remarriage after a divorce and of gay sex, reforms for which German bishops and theologians have become prominent spokesmen.

“The new rule opens the way for decisions that do justice to the situations people live in,” Alois Glueck, head of the lay Central Committee of German Catholics, said after the decision on new labour guidelines was announced on Tuesday.

Over two-thirds of Germany’s 27 dioceses voted for the change, a Church spokesman said, indicating some opposition.

There is no worldwide Catholic policy on lay employees. German law allows churches to have their own labour rules that can override national guidelines.

But German courts have begun limiting the scope of Church labour laws and public opinion reacts badly when a Catholic hospital’s head doctor is fired for remarrying or a teacher is sacked after her lesbian union is discovered.

Munich Cardinal Reinhard Marx, head of the bishops conference and a senior adviser to Pope Francis, has been a leading proponent of making the two-millennia-old Church more open to modern lifestyles that its doctrine officially rejects.

A worldwide synod of bishops at the Vatican last October was split on how flexible the Church should be in welcoming openly gay or divorced and remarried Catholics. A follow-up synod is due this October, with its result in doubt as debate continues.

Cologne Cardinal Rainer Woelki, the Francis-style pastor the pope appointed to Germany’s richest diocese, said the labour law did not negate official Church teaching that marriage is indissoluble, but brought it into line with actual practice.

“People who divorce and remarry are rarely fired,” he told the KNA news agency. “The point is to limit the consequences of remarriage or a same-sex union to the most serious cases (that would) compromise the Church’s integrity and credibility.”

Passages in the new version of Church labour law say that publicly advocating abortion or race hate, or officially quitting the Church, would be a “grave breach of loyalty” that could lead to an employee being fired.

Students Fight For Teacher After Nebraska Catholic School Fires Him For Being Gay

Skutt Catholic High School declined to renew the contract of teacher and speech coach Matt Eledge after he told them he was getting married to a man. He said school officials told him he’d have to end the relationship to keep his job.


Matt Eledge, center, with members of his speech team. Facebook: skyhawkspeech

In March, Skutt Catholic High School speech coach Matt Eledge led his team to their fourth consecutive state championship. Pictures from the day show the group of students, from Nebraska, beaming and clutching a huge gold trophy with Eledge in the center.

But soon after those photos were taken, school officials told Eledge his contract would not be renewed for the following school year. The decision came after Eledge informed the school that he and his partner, Elliot, were planning on getting married.

Eledge told BuzzFeed News that he realized he could lose his job if he married another man – but he hoped the school, overseen by the Archdiocese of Omaha, would overlook it.

“I had a thought, maybe they will make this work out,” he said.

But, according to Eledge, the school wouldn’t budge.

Now, former and current students, parents, and other community members are rallying behind Eledge and petitioning the school to allow the beloved teacher to remain at the school.

“A living example of what it means to be a SkyHawk, Mr. Eledge has spent hundreds of hours striving to make sure that the students at Skutt have an incredible high school experience,” an online petition reads. “He soars above the rest in accolades, talent, and character for Skutt Catholic.”

The petition has nearly 68,000 signatures as of Tuesday.

Matt Eledge with his speech team. Facebook: skyhawkspeech

Eledge said his experience teaching and coaching at Skutt has been everything he had hoped his career would be. He said he considers the Skutt community a family.

“It’s a job that I feel gives me joy and gives me meaning,” he said.

But he was later told by the administration that if he wanted to return to the school, he would have to end his relationship with his partner.

Officials from Skutt told BuzzFeed News they could not comment on employment matters. However, the school defended its decision to not ask Eledge back in a letter to its school community.

“If a staff member cannot commit to Catholic Church teachings and doctrines, he or she cannot continue to be on staff at Skutt Catholic,” the school president John F. McMahon said in the letter, which was reviewed by BuzzFeed News. “As a Catholic school we stand firmly with the Archdiocese of Omaha and our Catholic church in the support and upholding of the Church’s teachings as they are defined.”

Eledge said he was completely shocked by the request. But he was also surprised by the petition, started by former student Kacie Hughes.

Matt and his former student, Kacie Hughes.

Hughes, who is now a student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, told BuzzFeed News that if Skutt wants to fire Eledge for being gay, they would need to fire every other teacher who has broken any Catholic teaching.

“If you want to fire him for not abiding by Christian law, then you better start firing every teacher on the pill, a teacher who has gotten a divorce without an annulment or a teacher who has gotten a vasectomy,” she said. “They won’t fire these teachers, but it’s okay for Matt because he’s gay.”

Hughes said she thinks Skutt should “follow in the footsteps of Pope Francis and realize that this is no longer 1950.”

“Times are changing, and they need to get with it,” she said. “I started this petition to make a difference, which is something that my alma mater Skutt Catholic instilled in me.”

Matt and Elliot Facebook: skyhawkspeech

The 28-year-old was hired at Skutt after graduating from college and said he realized the implications of working at a Catholic school as a gay man.

At the time he was young and single and happy to be working, he said, but he knew he never could be open with who he really was.

“It always was a bit fearful for me to work in that environment,” he said.

Eledge said that as part of their contract, teachers at Skutt must agree to “support the teachings of the Catholic church.”

Deacon Timothy F. McNeil of the Archdiocese of Omaha told BuzzFeed News that the school would not renew the contracts of teachers who conduct themselves in “violation of Catholic Church teaching.”

“Teachers know what they are getting into and accepting when they sign the contract,” he said.

A federal judge struck down Nebraska’s same-sex marriage ban, but an appeals court stayed that decision – keeping the ban in place until further legal arguments are made.

Eledge said in practice he operated on a so-called “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. He never spoke openly spoke about his sexuality at work, even after he began dating his partner, Elliot, a few years ago.

But in 2014, Elliot’s mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. Eledge said that although he and Elliot had talked about marriage before, they decided to go ahead with it so that she could be at the ceremony.

Along with the petition, former and current students and others are also showing support for Eledge on social media using the hashtag #LetMattTeach.

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Eledge said he was reluctant at first to address the issue because he wanted to make sure he wasn’t just speaking with his “ego.”

However, he said, he’s come to realize that his story has “represented something way bigger.”Eledge said both he and Elliot are “more than anything totally and 100% moved and humbled and in awe of the way people are reaching out.”

“The support from the community has made me feel very loved and accepted,” he said.

Eledge said that he is not sure what the future holds for him. He will continue to teach at Skutt until the end of his current contract in May, and he said he has been exploring possible future teaching opportunities.

However, he said it breaks his heart to leave his students and team, which is a community that he considers family.

“Despite some of the pain from this situation,” he said, “I love and care about everyone at my school.”

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