Catholic teacher backs gay son, quits to protest contract

By Michael D. Clark

Molly Shumate

Veteran Catholic teacher Molly Shumate stared at the Cincinnati Archdiocese contract for next school year and thought of her son.

She remembered when a nervous Zachery Shumate, a teenager at the time, approached her and revealed his homosexuality.

His revelation prompted the first-grade teacher to give him a hug, telling her boy she would always love and support him.

So when the new teachers’ contract – strictly forbidding public support of homosexuality – was handed to her earlier this year, she was torn.

The employment contract – exclusively obtained and reported by The Enquirer in March – continues to divide huge sections of the region’s Catholics. The “morality” clauses – though not unique among Catholic schools nationwide – were a first for the 19-county Archdiocese school system.

It ignited a raging public battle, including a protest march Downtown and online petitions signed by thousands. And this week, 12 billboards opposing the contract dot the area. As the controversy grows, so too does interest around the country.

For Molly Shumate, the battle lines have surrounded her family.

Though a lifelong Catholic and devoted teacher, the lengthy contract’s starkly detailed restrictions on her personal life – and the freedom to publicly support her now 22-year-old son – stunned her.

“In my eyes there is nothing wrong with my son. This is what God gave me and what God created and someone I should never be asked to not support,” she said from her Butler County home.

“If my son were to say to me, ‘will you go somewhere with me that is supported or run by gays and lesbians,’ I would have to tell him no, according to that contract. And if my picture was taken, what would happen?” she said.

So for the first time in 14 years of teaching, Shumate will not be signing the Archdiocese’s teacher employment contract for next school year. And when the last class bell at her Hamilton County school rings out the finish of the school year later this month, it will also toll the end of her Catholic teaching career.

She is the first Archdiocese teacher to make a public stand but those opposing the contract predict more will step forward once the school year ends later this month.

“For me to sign this (contract), I feel like I would be telling my son I’ve changed my mind, that I don’t support him as I did. And I won’t do that,” she said.

Archdiocese officials remain steadfast in their support of the new contract.

Moreover, they contend some of the protests, which have attracted ancillary campaigns for private teacher employment rights, school unions and critics of the church’s policies are based on misunderstandings. Officials say much of the opposition is based on over reactions to the newly detailed personal morality provisions and how, in some circumstances, they may lead to teacher firings.

The contract – double its predecessor’s size – includes provisions that for the first time details prohibited practices such as gay “lifestyles” or public endorsements of homosexuality, out-of-wedlock relationships, abortions and fertility methods that go against Catholic teachings.

Each of the Archdiocese’s more than 2,200 teachers must sign the contract before the end of the school year if they want to remain employed. The employment agreement explicitly orders them to refrain “from any conduct or lifestyle which would reflect discredit on or cause scandal to the school or be in contradiction to Catholic doctrine or morals.” It also bans public support of the practices.

“It’s a bit frustrating to us that some of the organized opposition to our new contract language has misstated its intentions and its implications,” said Cincinnati Archdiocese spokesman Dan Andriacco.

“First of all, nobody who signed this year’s contract or last year’s contract should hesitate to sign the 2014-2015 agreement. All say the same thing – that the teacher will not publicly act or speak against the teachings of the Catholic Church,” said Andriacco.

Catholic School Superintendent Jim Rigg has previously defended the “homosexual lifestyle” section of the latest contract.

Rigg has stated “our culture is changing rapidly in this area, and many of our school employees, including me, have family members who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The contract does not stipulate that relationships of love for LGBT relatives should be severed.

“As Christians, we are called to love and serve all people … while the Church’s stance on homosexual marriage is well known, this does not mean that our teachers will be asked to cast away loved family members,” said Rigg.

But that is exactly what teachers are being asked to do, complains Tim Garry Jr., a local attorney who opposes the contract language.

In April Garry met with Archdiocese officials in an attempt to get them to modify the contract, to no avail.

Garry provided The Enquirer with the latest response from church officials to his request to meet and review his suggestions on altering the wording of the contract.

“The Archbishop does not believe that any further meeting regarding the teacher … contract is warranted,” according to a May 1 letter from Robert Reid, director of human resources for the Cincinnati Archdiocese.

Garry said the lack of discussion is frustrating.

“We’re attempting to help the teachers to have a voice in their contract,” he said.

“I doubt there is a more important contract in the Archdiocese, impacting more people, teachers, students and parents, than this contract with 2,200 or more teachers, 43,000 or so students and their parents.”

But he adds “the leadership of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati is not a democracy, and there has been little to no indication that it will voluntarily respond favorably to any request for change to their Catholic School teachers’ contract, no matter how reasonable or modest those changes might be.”

The 12 billboards were paid for by the Cincinnati Voice of the Faithful, which for more than a decade has criticized the church’s alleged lack of transparency and accountability regarding the sexual abuse of children.

The group’s coordinator, Kathy Weyer, said “we believe that the Cincinnati Archdiocese is being dishonest with the teachers by suggesting that the changes to the wording and job description of the teacher … contract are not that much different from past years. What is really happening is that the church is protecting itself from possible future lawsuits.”

Zachery Shumate drapes an encouraging arm on his mother’s shoulder and praises the “courage” of her public stance as one of the first teachers to quit in protest.

“It’s hard to put into words how proud I am of her,” he said. “For her to step into the public eye like this and go against the (church) … because she has a gay son speaks volumes about the kind of person she is.”

Complete Article HERE!

Torture the Little Children? The Catholic Church Says It’s Not Responsible

At a United Nations hearing the Vatican tries to turn the moral question of whether child abuse is torture into a legal debate about jurisdictions.


By Barbie Latza Nadeau

This may come as a huge surprise to many Catholics, but the Holy See is claiming it doesn’t really bear legal responsibility for how they or even their priests behave. Too good to be true? Actually, too horrible to be believed. What the Vatican is claiming this week before a United Nations panel is that, really, the question of priests sexually abusing little kids is a matter for local law enforcement. And, no, the physical pain and mental anguish inflicted on children by pedophile prelates should not be called “torture,” at least as defined by the U.N.pedophile priest rape sexual abuse catholic church headline scandal priest hypocrisy political cartoon

When the Vatican’s U.N. ambassador appeared in front of the U.N.’s Convention Against Torture in Geneva on Monday, the issues were about jurisdiction, not spiritual guidance and the Roman Catholic Church’s moral responsibility for errant clerics. “It should be stressed, particularly in light of much confusion, that the Holy See has no jurisdiction over every member of the Catholic Church,” said Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, who represented the Vatican as a signatory of the convention on torture.

In his opening remarks, released in advance to the press, Tomasi went on to say, “The Holy See wishes to reiterate that the persons who live in a particular country are under the jurisdiction of the legitimate authorities of that country and are thus subject to the domestic law and the consequences contained therein. State authorities are obligated to protect, and when necessary, prosecute persons under their jurisdiction.”

“Not our problem” and “they don’t work for us” may have become the boilerplate answers on the issue of who is ultimately responsible for priestly child abuse. But, curiously, when it comes to nearly every other subject, from doctrinal issues like preaching against birth control and for sexual abstinence, to how those spreading the Catholic message behave, including nuns “pushing feminist themes,” the Catholic Church at least seems to want total jurisdiction over its flocks and its shepherds.

As for those state authorities the Vatican says are “obligated to protect,” the Vatican hierarchy has, for years, done everything it can to prohibit them from doing just that by refusing to turn over documents on pedophile priests, or, in some cases, threatening the victims who dare to speak.

In an open letter ahead of Monday’s meeting in Geneva, Barbara Blaine, head of the Survivors Network of Those Abused By Priests, known as SNAP, asked the U.N. committee members to remember that the Vatican is still covering up sex abuse.

In Rome, the pope’s spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, shrugged off the meeting entirely, telling reporters that the topic of child abuse has no place in a discussion of torture.
“First, we humbly ask that you keep in mind that we are convinced that hundreds of innocent children and vulnerable adults are being sexually violated, tortured and assaulted—right now, today—by Catholic clerics,” Blaine wrote. “Second, we ask that you keep in mind that torture and violence can be subtle and manipulative. Or it can be blatant and brutal. Either way, it’s horribly destructive to the human spirit, especially when inflicted on the young by the powerful, on the truly devout by the allegedly holy.”

The Vatican’s required appearance in front of the Convention on Torture is the second time this year it has been called on the carpet for how Rome guides the Church’s many dioceses across the world. In January, Vatican officials also sat in front of the United Nations’ Convention for the Rights of the Child to defend their inexcusable record on child abuse. Then, the U.N. group scolded the Vatican:

“The Committee is gravely concerned that the Holy See has not acknowledged the extent of the crimes committed, has not taken the necessary measures to address cases of child sexual abuse and protect children, and has adopted policies and practices which have led to the continuation of the abuse by and the impunity of the perpetrators,” that U.N. panel concluded.

Back then, as on Monday, Tomasi toed the party line, pleading that the Church in Rome could not possibly take responsibility for what its priests do in the field. “Priests are not functionaries of the Vatican,” Tomasi told the committee in January. “Priests are citizens of their own states, and they fall under the jurisdiction of their own country.”

This time, the Vatican envoy went one step further, arguing that since the Convention on Torture document only applies in a juridical sense to the confines of the tiny Vatican city-state, the members of the convention might consider what a great job the Vatican actually does getting the anti-torture message out around the world.

“It might be said that the measures employed by the Holy See to take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent and to prohibit torture and to address its root causes to avoid future acts in this area are abundant,” Tomasi said. “This manifests the Holy See’s desire to lend its moral support and collaboration to the international community, so as to contribute to the elimination of recourse to torture, which is inadmissible and inhuman.”

In Rome, the pope’s spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, shrugged off the meeting entirely, telling reporters that the topic of child abuse has no place in a discussion of torture.

“A contributory factor is often the pressure exercised over the [U.N.] committees and public opinion by [nongovernmental organizations] with a strong ideological character and orientation, to bring the issue of the sexual abuse of minors into the discussion on torture, a matter which relates instead to the Convention on the rights of the child,” Father Lombardi said. “The extent to which this is instrumental and forced is clear to any unbiased observer.”

Monday’s meeting follows the first official meeting of Pope Francis’s special commission on child abuse, whose members gathered over the weekend in Rome. They set out their initial plan for drawing up statutes and arranged to meet again soon to help define just what they will do.

“In time, we will propose initiatives to encourage local responsibility around the world and the mutual sharing of ‘best practices’ for the protection of all minors, including programs for training, education, formation, and responses to abuse,” they said in a statement after the inaugural meeting.

On Tuesday, Tomasi faces further questioning on the Vatican’s stance on abuse. If the committee does rule that pedophiliac child abuse is torture, and that the Vatican is responsible, one might expect a rush of lawsuits citing the United Nations’ ruling, or even sanctions or expulsion from the committee.

For the victims of priestly abuse, even that won’t be enough. “For most of us, enduring the torture, rape and sexual violence was almost unbearable,” Blaine said ahead of Monday’s meeting. “But the betrayal by Church officials was just as damaging and, for many, even worse than that of the sexual violence. Those in positions of trust—who we were taught were closest to God and revered above anyone else, including respected teachers, community leaders, politicians, physicians and even our parents—treat us as enemies when we muster enough courage to report the rape and sexual violence we have endured.

“Rather than being embraced, appreciated and acknowledged, we are ostracized, ignored and blamed,” said Blaine. “This adds additional torture to far too many.”

Complete Article HERE!

Vatican lifts sanctions on silenced Irish priest

As someone who was silenced by the Vatican, back in 1981, this is joyous news. The Vatican Spring come way too late for me, but better late than never. Hurray for you Sean!


by Patsy McGarry

Pope Francis is believed to have intervened directly with the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) to have all sanctions on silenced Irish priest Fr Sean Fagan (86) lifted.

It was confirmed to The Irish Times in Rome last night that Marist priest Fr Fagan, who has been subject to sanction by the Vatican for six years, is no longer so.


The superior general of the Marist congregation in Rome, Fr John Hannan, said last night that Fr Fagan is now “a priest in good standing” where the church is concerned.

The Catholic bishops of Northern Ireland, including Cardinal Seán Brady, have written to the North’s Assembly members urging them to reject a Sinn Féin motion calling for the legalisation of gay marriage. Photograph: David Sleator Catholic bishops urge rejection of Sinn Féin Stormont motion on same-sex marriage

It has also emerged that the change in Fr Fagan’s circumstances may have involved direct intervention by both Pope Francis and the former President of Ireland Mary McAleese.

The Irish Times has learned that Mrs McAleese, who is away from Rome at the moment, wrote to Pope Francis last December requesting that he directly intervene where Fr Fagan’s case was concerned. Receipt of the letter was acknowledged by the Pope’s secretary. It is understood that the Marist congregation was informed of Fr Fagan’s changed situation at Easter.

Others understood to have been approached to intervene with the Vatican on Fr Fagan’s behalf include his own congregation, the Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, the papal nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown and the former head of the Dominicans Fr Timothy Radcliffe.

For many years Fr Fagan, who has suffered ill health for some time, had been critical of rigid stances by the Vatican on issues to do with conscience and sexual morality notably in letters to this newspaper. In 2003 he published the book Does Morality Change? And in 2008 Whatever Happened to Sin?

In 2010 he was informed by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that he would be laicised should be write for publication any material it considered contrary to Church teaching and should he disclose this to media.

Remaining copies of his book were bought up by the Marist congregation whose website last night still carried a statement first posted in February of last year which reads that “ the writings of Fr. Sean Fagan in the book What Happened to Sin do not have the approval of or represent the views of the Society of Mary.

It was reported at the weekend that the CDF’s change of stance towards Fr Fagan was because “he loves the Church in spite of all its weaknesses: that he accepted his censure and observed his restrictions; and to his advanced age.”

Welcoming the news the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) said in a statement yesterday that “it has been a source of great unease to our members and of continuing shame and embarrassment to our Church that a priest and theologian who has made such a huge contribution to Gospel and to Church over very many years would not be regarded as a priest ‘in good standing’.”

It said that “statements welcoming the lifting of restrictions on Fr Fagan by the Marist Order, the CDF and the Irish Catholic bishops are the least that might be expected.”

It also noted “that the decision of the CDF, according to reports, was influenced by pressure brought to bear through the efforts of friends.” It believed “that a concerted effort by the orders and congregations, supported by the Irish bishops, could lead to the lifting of similar restrictions on other members of the ACP colleagues of Fr Fagan, and from the Marist congregation.”

This was a reference to those other priests silenced by the Vatican, including Fr Tony Flannnery, Fr Gerard Moloney, Fr Brian D’Arcy, and Fr Owen O’Sullivan.

Complete Article HERE!