Friday, November 04, 2005

Standing Up and Speaking Out ... Unless You're Catholic?

In an earlier post, I mentioned the difficulties going on in the Sacramento area, where a teacher at a Catholic school was dismissed for deliberate public actions that were contrary to the Catholic faith--supporting the alleged "right" to kill a baby in the womb and escorting women into the local Planned Parenthood, that place where women can go and have their babies killed--which was then followed by the expulsion from the Catholic school of the fifteen-year-old girl whose mother reported the teacher's actions.

Well, as usual and expected, the events continue (also found here):

A former Loretto High School drama teacher alleged Thursday that her firing last month for having volunteered at a Planned Parenthood clinic was a case of sexual and religious discrimination and violated her free-speech rights.

Marie Bain, 50, of Sacramento, filed two separate employment complaints Thursday with the state against Loretto, the religious order that sponsors the school, the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento and Bishop William K. Weigand.

One complaint - with the state Department of Labor - calls for an investigation of the employment practices of the diocese. The other - with the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing - is a first step toward a lawsuit.

This is ridiculous, but it is also the way things go in this country. Certain groups are not tolerated to run their organization in the way they see fit, in a way that is in accord with their beliefs. What happened to tolerance? Why can't an employer, especially a religious-based one, dismiss an employee who does not share its vision, dismiss an employee who publicly acts in a way that is contrary to the goals and mission of the employer?

"Loretto rightly prides itself as an academic institution committed to vigorous debate of ideas and beliefs," said Bain's attorney, John M. Poswall of Sacramento. "Unfortunately, the action of the bishop, cowering to noisy fundamentalists, threatens to turn Loretto into a Taliban-style institution of thought control and repression."

"Taliban-style"? Perhaps this shows their lack of justification for what they are doing.

I don't know about Loretto, but the diocese of Sacramento and most Catholic schools (at least through their mission statements) claim to be institutions committed to transmitting the values and moral outlook of the Catholic Church. Truth, or even what the Church's institutions put forth as truth, outweighs the so-called "debate" Bain's attorney speaks of. Debate is fine and it has its place. The position of a Catholic school teacher who is seen as a role model is not the place for one who publicly disagrees with a key teaching of the Church, at least not if you want to support and promote that moral teaching. It sounds like the bishop wants just that while the school is not as committed.

Weigand called for Bain's firing in early October in response to demands from an anti-abortion activist and mother of a Loretto student.

Weigand argued that Bain's previous volunteer work presented an irreconcilable conflict with church teachings and set a poor example for students at the all-girls school.

Poswall stated in the complaint that Bain's firing constituted sexual discrimination because it targeted "her beliefs and actions related to women's reproductive rights" and sought to make "an example of her as a woman, to other young women."

School officials knew Bain was not a Catholic and had her "own personal beliefs" when they hired her in August, Poswall stated.

Punishing her for having supported opposing values in the past is tantamount to religious discrimination, Poswall said.

Regarding the free speech claim, Poswall argued that Bain's volunteering was akin to a "political activity," which is a protected class of speech and a "fundamental right of all California employees."

There are a few issues here, but the fundamental one seems to be whether or not a private organization--religious-based at that--can expect its employees, at minimum, to not act deliberately and publicly against the mission and tenets of the employing organization.

Teachers employed by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles sign an employment agreement wherein the following statement occurs:

The Teacher is called to be a role model and a witness to the Gospel of Christ and, therefore, the Teacher shall adhere to proper conventions and Christian morals. The Teacher shall maintain by words and actions a position that is in conformity with the teaching, standards, doctrines, laws and norms of the Roman Catholic Church as interpreted by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

I would presume Bain signed a similar document. If so, her actions supporting and promoting abortion do not "adhere to ... Christian morals." Further, it is clear that her actions as a volunteer at a place that kills babies in the womb are not "in conformity with the teaching, standards, docrtines, laws and norms of the Roman Catholic Church." Questions remain. Did she sign such an agreement? If so, she should not have any case in court. If she did not, she still should not prevail in this matter because a religious organization should be able to dismiss employees who do not share its religious mission. That is fundamental. What happened to religious freedom? Or does that not apply to the Catholic Church?

Here, the bishop has the right, the authority, and especially the duty to ensure that teachers in Catholic schools do not cause scandal by deliberate behavior that is directly at odds with the teachings of the Catholic Church. What the principal does not do must be done by the bishop.

In the Archdiocese of Los Angeles Teacher Employment Agreement, one of the causes for termination is

... [P]ersonal conduct constituting bad example to students according to standards of the Roman Catholic Church as interpreted by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

It is only a shame that the school itself and its principal did not do something sooner, like standing with the Church, standing with Christ, in either guiding this teacher to the truth of the humanity of those killed in abortions or dismissing her on their own. Either of these would have avoided the scandal and disturbance that ensued when the bishop had to get involved.

And Katelyn, the fifteen-year-old girl, would still be a student at the Catholic school she wanted to attend.

Sadly, that is not how things have transpired, and as a result she is now subject to some vile attacks on her blog, Stand Up and Speak Out, all because she did what we teach our youth, Catholic and non-Catholic, to do: stand up and speak out when there is a clear and serious wrong happening in our midst. To do otherwise is to betray those being wronged. The voice of the innocent children could not be heard. Instead, we heard Katelyn's. I thank her for that.

1 comment:

Scarlette said...

The bishop needs to fire the two sisters involved: the principal and whoever actually hired her (I can't remember their names).

Nobody wants to go through a big mess like this but as long as it's happening anyway, he might as well go ahead and get rid of those sisters and be done with it, so nothing like this happens again.
Clearly they are not pro-life women or else they wouldn't have hired Bains.

I do believe they knew who they were hiring.