By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
The lesbian couple at the center of a controversy involving their two children’s attendance at a Catholic school in Boulder issued a statement saying they don’t believe “homosexuality and organized religion should be mutually exclusive.”
According to News9.com, the couple, who are remaining unidentified, released a statement on Monday saying the decision by the pastor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic School in Boulder not to allow their children to continue attending the school came as a shock to them. They claim that they were told their children could not attend the school on a long-term basis because of their sexual orientation.
“We were initially very hurt and angry,” they write. “We were told that family and students need to uphold church doctrine for students to be admitted. We were also told that our children would feel uncomfortable when taught about the ‘family unit,’ and teachers might be too intimidated by their presence to teach church beliefs.”
Their response to this reasoning is that there are many families who do not live their lives according to church doctrine. “There are divorced parents, children of parents born out of wedlock, non-Catholics and non-practicing Catholics. Their eligibility has not been questioned. There seems to be a subjective rating system of which sins are more unacceptable.”
They go on to say that the school should not have been concerned about teaching Church beliefs about the family because their children are well-adjusted and understand that their family is “different.”
Their children were enrolled in the school because they were raised in the Catholic faith, went to Catholic schools and are raising their children to be practicing Catholics.
“Perhaps our biggest objection to the school’s decision is that we think that it is wrong to punish a child for who the child’s parents are,” the couple stated. “We do not think this reflects what Jesus would have done.”
The pastor of the school, Fr. Bill Breslin, who called the decision not to enroll the students “the most difficult of my life,” said the issue is not about accepting sinners or punishing children for the sins of their 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.”
Denver Archbishop Chaput agrees. “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.”
However, the parents say they feel their goal of raising their children in the Catholic faith is being undermined by the church.
“We do not believe that homosexuality and organized religion need to be mutually exclusive,” the couple stated.
They conclude their letter by promising to “continue to raise our children with strong Catholic values and hold faith that through our actions, we are doing our part to create a more loving, inclusive world.”
Jeanette De Melo, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Denver, said the Archdiocese will no longer comment on the issue.
“The couple hasn’t sought out this public attention. They have made clear they want privacy and they desire to move on for the sake of their children,” she said. “As Archbishop [Charles J. Chaput] explained in his column our decision was made out of consideration for the children. As requested by the couple, and for the good of all involved, we will not say anything further.”
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