A Catholic school in Colorado is drawing criticism for its refusal to readmit the young children of a lesbian couple.
The school of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Boulder has informed the couple that the older of the two children may attend kindergarten next year, but may not advance to the first grade; the younger child may complete preschool, but may not advance to kindergarten.
News of the exclusions drew some two dozen protesters outside Mass on Sunday, Denver station KMGH-TV reports.
"God and Jesus would not allow discrimination in that way," Joellen Raderstorf told the ABC affiliate. At least one parishioner appeared to agree.
"I just feel the Catholic Church is a church that should be teaching acceptance and tolerance,” Juli Aderman-Hagerty said as she was leaving Mass. “I just don't think this is an example of that.”
Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput called it a “painful situation.”
“The Church never looks for reasons to turn anyone away from a Catholic education,” he wrote in a column for the Denver Catholic Register. “But the Church can’t change her moral beliefs without undermining her mission and failing to serve the many families who believe in that mission.”
Chaput drew attention during the 2004 presidential campaign when he told The New York Times that voting for a candidate such as John Kerry, a supporter of abortion rights, would be a sin, and Catholics who did so would be required to confess before they could take communion.
More recently, he decried a “spirit of adulation bordering on servility" among some Catholic supporters of President Barack Obama. “In democracies,” he said, “we elect public servants, not messiahs."
In his column, Chaput writes that the church does not claim that people of homosexual orientation are “bad,” or that their children are less loved by God.
“Quite the opposite,” he writes. “But what the Church does teach is that sexual intimacy by anyone outside marriage is wrong; that marriage is a sacramental covenant; and that marriage can only occur between a man and a woman. These beliefs are central to a Catholic understanding of human nature, family and happiness, and the organization of society. The Church cannot change these teachings because, in the faith of Catholics, they are the teachings of Jesus Christ.”
He writes that the policies of the Catholic schools exists to protect all parties, including homosexual couples and their children.
“Our schools are meant to be ‘partners in faith’ with parents,” he writes. “If parents don’t respect the beliefs of the Church, or live in a manner that openly rejects those beliefs, then partnering with those parents becomes very difficult, if not impossible. It also places unfair stress on the children, who find themselves caught in the middle, and on their teachers, who have an obligation to teach the authentic faith of the Church. …
“Most parents who send their children to Catholic schools want an environment where the Catholic faith is fully taught and practiced. That simply can’t be done if teachers need to worry about wounding the feelings of their students or about alienating students from their parents. … Persons who have an understanding of marriage and family life sharply different from Catholic belief are often people of sincerity and good will. They have other, excellent options for education and should see in them the better course for their children.”
The LGBT group Boulder Pride says on its Web site that it “extends its support to the family and stands in solidarity with the teachers at Sacred Heart who disagree with the Archdiocese's decision and with members of the community who are concerned that the Archdiocese has ignored the fullness of Catholic understanding of welcome and love, and instead is using a child to make a political point and not a theological one. All schools, private and public, should provide safe, welcoming learning environments to all students. A child should never be singled out to make a political statement.”The Rev. Bill Breslin, pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus, said the “core issue” is “our freedom and our obligation to teach about marriage and family life as our Faith teaches.”
“If parents see the cultural interpretation of what tolerance has become as more important than the teachings of Jesus, then we become unfaithful to the Lord and we lose the meaning of the beatitude, “Blessed are you when they insult you for My sake, for the Kingdom of Heaven is yours.” Many of Jesus’ teachings were not popular. In fact, He was crucified for His teachings.”
Breslin also questioned the parenting of the couple.
“Why would good parents want their children to learn something they don't believe in?” he asked. “It doesn't make sense. There are so many schools in Boulder that see the meaning of sexuality in an entirely different way than the Catholic Church does. Why not send their child there?”
Raderstorf, the protester, sees a double standard.
"I don't think they interview to see what parents are divorced or what parents are using birth control or other things that are against the teaching of the Catholic Church," she told KMGH.