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!

Anti-gay Charlotte Catholic High lecturer sparks controversy

Gay student and peers, parents and alumni want apology for lecturer who said gay parents abuse children, masturbation turns boys gay

by Matt Comer
Students and parents at Charlotte Catholic High School are speaking out after they say a campus lecturer forcefully condemned homosexuality with outdated statistics, prejudiced stereotypes and other extremist claims.

Sister-Jane-Dominic-LaurelAs of Friday morning, more than 2,100 people had signed onto a Change.org petition asking the school and its chaplain, Father Matthew Kauth, to apologize for the lecture led last Friday by Sister Jane Dominic Laurel, a professor at Nashville’s Aquinas College, whose other lectures and presentations posted online also contain wildly inaccurate accusations about gay people and sexuality.

In a separate action, 64 students and 86 alumni signed onto a letter with similar requests and sent directly to school officials.

EXTRA: Read the full alumni and student letter to the school

The letter and petition allege that Laurel said a variety of prejudiced comments about gay and lesbian people during her lecture on masculinity and femininity, including that masturbation or an absent father may make a boy more likely to be gay — two claims soundly rejected by all mainstream medical professionals and associations.

“Then she started talking about how gays [sic] people are gay because they have an absent father figure, and therefore they have not received the masculinity they should have from their father,” reads one student’s account of the message. “Also a guy could be gay if he masterbates [sic] and so he thinks he is being turned on by other guys. And then she gave an example of one of her gay ‘friends’ who said he used to go to a shed with his friends and watch porn and thats why he was gay. … Then she talked about the statistic where gay men have had either over 500 or 1000 sexual partners and after that I got up and went to the bathroom because I should not have had to been subject to that extremely offensive talk.”

A gay Charlotte Catholic student, who did not want to be publicly named because he is not fully out at school or home, said he was upset by the assembly, which was mandatory for all students to attend. He wants the school to apologize, too.

“I would like them to issue a formal apology to the students and to the parents and alumni,” the student told qnotes. “I want them to know how upset everyone is and for them to acknowledge that.”

The gay student corroborated the petition’s several claims about Laurel’s lecture.

“She brought up an abusive Australian couple that was gay and they abused their child, portraying to us that gay people are unfit parents,” he said. “She also said that gay people can become gay because of masturbation or pornography or because they don’t spend enough time with their father because their parents are divorced.”

David Hains, a spokesperson for the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte, told qnotes a parent meeting is scheduled for next Wednesday. It will be held at 7 p.m. in the school’s gym.

qnotes asked Hains what the school or diocese would do to ensure that voices like that of the closeted gay student are considered at the meeting. He said he was certain the issues would be discussed at length.

“The parents of students who are gay and lesbian are obviously going to be welcomed at the meeting,” he said. “There are many of our families at Charlotte Catholic who have students, relatives or friends who are homosexual and that point of view, I’m certain, is going to be represented among the parents at the meeting.”

Hains also confirmed it wasn’t official church teaching that masturbation makes people gay. He said school officials, not the diocese, would have been in charge of approving Laurel’s lecture. Laurel, he said, has a doctorate’s degree in sacred theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome, and she will be invited back to speak at a diocesan youth conference in May.

“She talks on a broad range of subjects, so I don’t know that the content of the talk at Charlotte Catholic will be the subject of what she will be talking about in May,” said Hains.

Hains also reiterated official church doctrine on homosexuality and LGBT people.

“The Catholic Church believes people who are homosexual or have a same-sex attraction, whatever you want to call it, are people who deserve lives of peace and dignity and, at the same time, the Catholic Church teaches that sex outside of marriage is wrong,” he said.

Hains said LGBT people and others sometimes have a “misunderstanding on the church’s stand on marriage and its welcoming of homosexual people into Catholic churches.”

Laurel, the Charlotte Catholic High lecturer, has a history of extremist, anti-gay views. She has partnered with the Ruth Institute to present lectures and conferences opposing same-sex marriage. The Ruth Institute was formerly funded by the National Organization for Marriage, a group which has pushed anti-LGBT constitutional amendments nationwide and whose founder has compared gays to pedophiles.

In one lecture posted online, Laurel claims that more young women are engaging in oral sex and says, “This is not a normal sexual act. It’s something that’s imported from the homosexual culture. It’s not part of the natural love between man and woman.”

In another lecture, Laurel speaks at length about the Folsom Street Fair, a San Francisco fetish event. In another video, she says that androgyny is a tool of Satan and that “devil-worshipers” have three goals: to continue abortions, to destroy traditional marriage and destroy the distinction between male and female.

Students and alumni have described the lecture as “teachings of hate and intolerance.”

“Last week’s presentation represents a betrayal of trust,” the student and alumni letter to school officials reads. “Your responsibility to provide nurturing and informative education to the students of Charlotte Catholic was shrugged off. Your mission to truthfully convey the teachings of the Church—the teachings of love, compassion, and humility—was replaced by teachings of hate and intolerance.”

A second Change.org petition, with nearly 500 signatures, asks students to “stand up for Catholic beliefs.” It also argues Laurel did not say masturbation makes boys gay, but, rather, describes her remarks as “partaking in masturbation will lessen your masculinity and that through the absence of a parent in the home will also make a greater risk for homosexuality.”

Complete Article HERE!

Atlanta archbishop apologizes over $2.2M mansion

File under: Follow the money

 

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Atlanta apologized Monday for building a $2.2 million mansion for himself, a decision criticized by local Catholics who cited the example of austerity set by the new pope.2008_08_09_Pistor_BoardInvestigating_ph_Gregory

Archbishop Wilton Gregory recently moved into a nearly 6,400-square-foot (595-square-meter) residence. Its construction was made possible by a large donation from the estate of Joseph Mitchell, nephew of Margaret Mitchell, author of “Gone With The Wind,” the Civil War epic that made his family wealthy. When Mitchell died in 2011, he left an estate worth more than $15 million to the archdiocese on the condition it be used for “general religious and charitable purposes.”

Gregory said that he has received criticism over the spending in letters, emails and telephone messages.

“I am disappointed that, while my advisors (sic) and I were able to justify this project fiscally, logistically and practically, I personally failed to project the cost in terms of my own integrity and pastoral credibility with the people of God of north and central Georgia,” Gregory said in a column posted on the website of the archdiocesan newspaper, The Georgia Bulletin.

“I failed to consider the impact on the families throughout the Archdiocese who, though struggling to pay their mortgages, utilities, tuition and other bills, faithfully respond year after year to my pleas to assist with funding our ministries and services,” he added.

The Catholic leader said he will discuss the situation with several diocesan councils, including a special meeting of its finance council. If church representatives want the bishop to sell the home, Gregory said he will do so and move elsewhere.

The purchase of the sprawling home was part of a real estate deal made possible by money from Joseph Mitchell’s estate.

In his will, Mitchell requested that primary consideration be given to the Cathedral of Christ The King, where he worshipped. The cathedral received $7.5 million for its capital fund and spent roughly $1.9 million to buy the archbishop’s old home, according to tax records. Cathedral officials are planning to spend an additional $292,000 to expand Gregory’s old home so its priests can live there, freeing up space on the cathedral’s cramped campus.

After selling his home, Gregory needed a new residence.

The archbishop said that he made a mistake while designing a home with large meeting spaces and rooms for receptions and gatherings.

“What we didn’t stop to consider, and that oversight rests with me and me alone, was that the world and the Church have changed,” Gregory said.

He demolished the one-story home on Mitchell’s property, which was donated to the church, and replaced it with a Tudor-style mansion. In January, a group of local Catholics met with the archbishop and asked that he sell the large home and return to his old residence. They cited the example of Pope Francis, who turned down living quarters in a Vatican palace and drives a simple car.

“The example of the Holy Father, and the way people of every sector of our society have responded to his message of gentle joy and compassion without pretense, has set the bar for every Catholic and even for many who don’t share our communion,” Gregory said.

Complete Article HERE!

Roman Catholic Church faces human-rights case over dismissal of employee

By GLORIA GALLOWAY

Ginette Chaumont says she devoted her life to the Roman Catholic Church, forgoing marriage and a family to serve for 22 years as the assistant to a series of Ottawa archbishops before menopause left her depressed, disorganized and inefficient.

chaumont

Ms. Chaumont, who is now 59, recognized her failings and tried to compensate by working unpaid overtime. But, in November, 2011, she was summoned to a meeting with Monsignor Kevin Beach. “He told me at that time that I was being dismissed,” she told The Globe and Mail on Monday. “He said the Archbishop no longer had any confidence in my doing his work.”

Stripped of the demanding job that had been her “compass point,” and unable to find new employment despite sending out hundreds of resumes, she has launched a human-rights case against the church which she said still “means everything to me.”

The problems she experienced in 2011 were not Ms. Chaumont’s first bout with mental issues. She was diagnosed with clinical depression in 2005, but was treated and the symptoms subsided – until she hit menopause in the winter before her dismissal.

The church that had paid for her master’s degree in canon law, from which she says she received multiple commendations for excellent service, was not getting the best she had to offer. But “I didn’t really feel comfortable asking for accommodations a second time,” she explained.

Church officials did not raise their concerns until she was suddenly cut loose, Ms. Chaumont said. “Basically, my whole life revolved around the church and, once my job was gone, it was like I was left facing nothing.”

For its part, the church says there is no foundation to her claim of discrimination. “The Archdiocese is prepared to defend its position before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario,” Sarah Du Broy, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese, said in an e-mail.

In its response to Ms. Chaumont’s human-rights complaint, the Archdiocese says she was advised during the termination meeting that, when she came back from her summer vacation in 2011, “she had returned to the problematic patterns of behaviour she previous exhibited.” And “given that she did not correct the problematic behaviours which had previously been addressed with her, her employment was being terminated.”

But Ms. Chaumont’s lawyer, Alan Riddell, said courts and tribunals say every employer must try to accommodate employees in cases of illness. Yet “this employer, the Archdiocese, didn’t lift a finger to accommodate the symptoms of the disability and the menopause,” he said. “The medical literature confirms that there is a very strong link in many women between diminished concentrative powers and efficiency and organization in the workplace and the onset of menopause.”

Mr. Riddell also pointed to the recent case of an Ottawa priest named Rev. Joe LeClair, a diagnosed pathological gambler who was convicted of stealing $130,000 from his church over the course of five years. Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast has said that, when Father LeClair has served his time, he will assist the priest in returning to his ministry.

“Unlike Father Joe, she never stole or lied to anyone,” Mr. Riddell said of Ms. Chaumont.

The message the Archbishop is sending to the community, said the lawyer, “is that, if you are a male priest, you will be forgiven and reinstated to the payroll, no matter what laws you break and how much money you steal. But, if you are a female assistant who leads a good Catholic life, as Ms. Chaumont did for all of her 60 years, you will be dumped onto the street just as fast as Hell can scorch a feather, just as soon as you run into serious health problems.”

Complete Article HERE!

Church brings 1st Amendment into Eastside Catholic lawsuit

By DONNA GORDON BLANKINSHIP

A gay vice principal who was forced out of his job at Eastside Catholic School filed a discrimination and wrongful termination lawsuit against the school and church on Friday. Lawyers for the church and school planned to respond immediately with a motion arguing King County Superior Court does not have jurisdiction to hear the case without violating the First Amendment.

Mark_Zmuda

The case has stirred debate at the school and in front of the Seattle Archdiocese and has led to several online petitions arguing for reinstatement of the popular teacher, coach and administrator and calling for a change in church doctrine on gay marriage.

The school and the church decided Mark Zmuda couldn’t continue in his job after they learned he had married his same-sex partner. They cited an employment agreement Zmuda had signed that said his public behaviors would at all times be consistent with the values and teachings of the Catholic Church. An attorney for the school acknowledged that school leadership floated the idea that Zmuda could possibly get a divorce to keep his job.

“I was asked by the school to break my wedding vows to keep my job,” Zmuda said at a news conference Friday. “I was told I could either divorce or be fired. How could anyone ask anyone else to make that choice?”


In the response they plan to file to the lawsuit, lawyers for the church argue the case “would impermissibly entangle the Court in Catholic doctrine,” and would lead the court to examine the church’s definition of marriage.
The lawsuit Zmuda filed in King County Superior Court accuses the school and the church of discrimination, wrongful termination and violation of the state consumer protection laws. Zmuda’s lawyers argue he was not a religious employee of the school.

“I am a lifelong Catholic,” Zmuda said. “I am a gay man. I did not choose to be gay. I do not see any inconsistency in the teachings of Jesus and being gay.”

Zmuda’s lawsuit notes that the school previously posted a statement on its website that it does not discriminate based on marital status or sexual orientation but that statement was removed after his dismissal. A similar statement was included in the employee handbook.

“I relied on those statements,” Zmuda said.

Zmuda has said the school’s administrators were aware that he is gay and that he was in a relationship. Administrators asked him not to bring his partner to school functions, according to the lawsuit.

The school sent a letter home to parents on Thursday, saying the school’s board of directors would handle legal issues and the administrators would continue to run the school.

Complete Article HERE!