Commentary by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
The decision of a Boulder, Colorado pastor not to allow the child of a lesbian couple to enroll in the parish school is sparking local protests and national controversy.
Father Bill Breslin of Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Boulder called the decision not to allow the child of a lesbian couple to enroll in the school “the most difficult decision of my life.”
On his blog, he stated: “The choice could have been made to do nothing and allow a lesbian couple to enroll their child in our Kindergarten. But that choice would have been against Archdiocesan policy; and when a priest is ordained he promises obedience to his bishop; and I cannot violate that vow; and I will not.”
He went on to explain that “Our school is a Catholic school. The issue is not about our not accepting ‘sinners.’ It is not about punishing the child for the sins of his or her parents. It is simply that the lesbian couple is saying that their relationship is a good one that should be accepted by everyone; and the Church cannot agree to that.”
The policy of the Catholic school system is also to protect the teachers from being forced to face “huge conflicts” within the classroom, he said, and to enable them to teach clearly, and also support the family life of the children they are teaching.
The decision has caused an onslaught of negative media attention as well as protests outside the Church.
“I grew up Catholic in a strong Catholic family with six kids, and I’m just deeply, deeply disappointed by the decision of Sacred Heart,” Kira Hall told 9News.com.
Colleen Scanlan Lyons, mother of a Sacred Heart student, said “I’ve had 16 years of Catholic education, and this just reached the core of my being as completely wrong and against the teachings of Jesus.”
But what these protestors are not understanding is that the Catholic Church has a right to practice its faith and to conduct their education system in accordance with those values.
“The policies of our Catholic school system exist to protect all parties involved, including the children of homosexual couples and the couples themselves,” said Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput on his blog.
“Our schools are meant to be ‘partners in faith’ with parents. 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.”
Rather than force a religious school to accept something that goes against their teachings, the Archbishop suggests: “They have other, excellent options for education and should see in them the better course for their children.”
Those who believe loving like Jesus means forcing religious institutions to accept lifestyles that oppose their teachings along with all of the personal pain of conscience this would impose upon its practitioners, do not understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If there’s one thing Jesus never did, it was force people to accept His beliefs and become a follower. He offered salvation to all, but forced none to take it, which is the perfect example of the kind of selfless love we are all called to emulate.
As Fr. Breslin explains: “Being disciples of Jesus Christ is very demanding. Yes, being disciples entails adherence to the many examples of Jesus’ love: love one another as I have loved you; be not the first to throw a stone; judge not lest you be judged. . . . But when it came to making disciples, He spoke in a different way, a more radical way: unless you take up your cross and follow me, you can have no part of me. Repent and change your ways.”
To express your support to Fr. Breslin, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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