Participants gather during a rally celebrating the Supreme Court's gay marriage ruling at Ilus W. Davis Park in Kansas City, Mo. on Wednesday (June 26).  RNS photo by Sally Morrow

Participants gather during a rally celebrating the Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling at Ilus W. Davis Park in Kansas City, Mo., on Wednesday (June 26). RNS photo by Sally Morrow


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(RNS) Michael Griffin says it was no secret that he is gay at the suburban Philadelphia Catholic high school where he taught for more than a decade. But last week when he told administrators at Holy Ghost Preparatory School that he was going to marry his partner he was fired.

The episode is the latest in a string of similar incidents, and it came just a week after New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan said the church is not “anti-gay” but has been “outmarketed” on the issue of gay marriage.

In this case, Griffin, 35, an alumnus of Holy Ghost who taught languages there for 12 years, was dismissed Friday (Dec. 6) in a meeting with the school president, the Rev. James McCloskey, and the principal, Jeffrey Danilak. Griffin had emailed Danilak earlier in the week to say he might be late for an in-service day on Friday because he was applying for a marriage license with his partner in New Jersey, a state that legalized gay marriage this year.

Later Friday, McCloskey and Danilak told Griffin that if he intended to go through with the marriage he would be fired.

Griffin protested. It was already well known in the school that he is gay; he and his partner, Vincent Giannetto, both wear rings; a school administrator came to the reception for their civil union in 2008 ; and the pair frequently attended school parties as a couple, including a big fundraiser in April.

“To me, that was much more public than me e-mailing the principal, so I don’t understand, if (they) were going to fire me, why not in April, why not for the civil union, why not at the first time I brought my partner to the school? That’s why it’s sort of a shock to me,” he told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

But McCloskey said in a statement to the newspaper that Griffin’s action violated the terms of his contract,  ”which requires all faculty and staff to follow the teachings of the church as a condition of their employment.”

“In discussion with Mr. Griffin, he acknowledged that he was aware of this provision in his contract, yet he said that he intended to go ahead with the ceremony,” McCloskey said. “Regretfully, we informed Mr. Griffin that we have no choice but to terminate his contract effective immediately.”

Holy Ghost prep is a private all-boys high school in Bensalem, Pa., just north of Philadelphia. It is operated by the Congregation of the Holy Spirit religious order and is independent of the Philadelphia archdiocese.

Catholic leaders have come under fire for a number of episodes in which gays and lesbians have been dismissed from positions in Catholic institutions. Pope Francis seemed to complicate matters for the hierarchy this year when he said Catholics should not be too quick to judge gay people or to make opposition to gay rights their top priority.

Speaking on “Meet the Press” Dec. 1, after Illinois became the latest state to legalize gay marriage, Dolan said he thought the church was losing the argument on gay marriage because “maybe we’ve been outmarketed sometimes.”

“We’ve been caricatured as being anti-gay,” he added. He said that was not the case and that the church is only supporting “traditional marriage.”

But, he said, “when you have forces like Hollywood, when you have forces like politicians, when you have forces like some opinion-molders that are behind it, it’s a tough battle.”

YS/AMB END GIBSON

44 Comments

    • Given your a-priori regarding religion, that it has no place anywhere in the public square, your response is predictable.

      It is one thing for gays teaching in religious schools to maintain discretely their relationships. It is quite another to openly challenge that religion’s teaching by publicly “marrying.”

      Then again, you come from the perspective that claims “anyone not giving me what I want is against me.” That’s a logical conclusion from what is your basic premise: that “I” am the sole determiner of values, mores, and ethics.
      That will work just fine until you run up against someone who holds the same perspective and is in some way a threat to you because of his values, mores and ethics.

      If I have you wrong, please inform. And explain and defend.

      • Way to engage in ad hominem! How about, you are an automatic apologist for the Catholic Church, therefore whatever you say will be full of crap and skewed in their favor. See how that works? Neither statement means very much when trying to make a valid argument.

        You haven’t “gotten me right” once. You are merely projecting.

        We have a church which has gone out of its way to attack civil liberties of a group in the political spectrum, yet they are not against them. Riiiight

        In other words, its OK to hire a gay person in a catholic school provided they either lie about themselves in public or subject themselves to a discriminatory attitude by the employers. They already chose to ignore their “teachings” when they hired him in the first place and kept him long after his civil union.

        What you call challenging is also called a legal act within the state. Its also an attitude which is selectively enforced. One does not hear of Catholic schools firing teachers who get divorced, do not venerate the Pope or do not take communion.

        Obviously the intent and act were discriminatory in nature. They already kept him on after being a civil union. They already assented to his relationship by their prior actions. It is not as if he was getting married in a Catholic Church or even requesting one. Marriage itself is not a religious act unless one chooses it to be so. The differences between civil union and marriage are purely legal and civil in nature. No qualitative difference to the Church teachings on the matter.

        • I agree that the school was negligent by its own standards in keeping him on once it became clear that he was making his private life very public.
          It isn’t clear tht the school knew he was gay when they hired him. The school thought his NJ “marriage” was the last straw, however.

          You refuse even to accept the notion, it seems, that the entire debate centers on the very definition of marriage itself. For certain you have refused to address the matter in this context thus far despite my makiing it central to the discussion. This is one example, I think, of your wish not to enter areas of dispute where you have no defense.

          Whether you know it or not, and clearly you don’t, the Church is conflicted about gays and their rights as members of the faithful. There is no absolute ban, to my knowledge, on gays being ordained, provided the Church has good reason to believe that the man will lead a chaste life. The Church doesn’t want its clergy flaunting their heterosexuality, either.
          You claim I am projecting, but I can go back to others of our exchanges where I made points that you chose not to respond to–or couldn’t respond to–leaving me with the impression that you had no response when I invited one openly.

          Divorce is not the “no-no” in the Church that you think it is. The Church disapproves of remarriage after a divorce unless the divorce is accompanied by a Church declaration of nullity of the original marriage. Catholics do not venerate the pope. Taking communion is not required more than once a year. You base your criticism of the Church on many of your own misunderstandings of it, cleary demonstrated above.

          Lastly, if you have read some of my other postings, you would see that I am not an apologist for the Church. Try again.

          • The definition of marriage is determined by the state. It always has been. Religious definitions have never been relevant except to those seeking a ceremony in that given faith.

            This is why religious arguments against SSM are ultimately not taken seriously under the law. If said faiths object to it, they don’t have to perform the service. It doesn’t mean they get to speak for the general public on the subject.

            The Church is remarkably flexible when it comes to sexual matters of its staff. That is if they are male and heterosexual. They frequently apply double standards to female employees terminating them for acts which would only receive “counseling” for a male one.

            The school through their actions for over 12 years already showed their assent for the teacher and his relations. Even keeping him on after he previously had it recognized under law as a civil union. A civil marriage is no concern for a religious organization. It strikes me as simply looking for an excuse long long after the fact.

            And no, the church is anti-gay. They actively campaign politically to have them discriminated against in all civil and employment matters. They don’t mind keeping them around provided they do not chose to live a normal human existence.

            Why this teacher chose to work for them is really beyond me. We can agree that by working for the church, he was actively aiding people who would rather treat him as less than a person.

            As for previous exchanges, many times I do not respond to you because I have moved on to another subject and find you don’t have much that is relevant to say as the discussion goes on. I do not have a pathological need to get in the last word.

          • The problem here is that the contract said to follow the dictates of the Catholic faith. Mortal sins include:
            1)masturbation
            2)premarital sex
            3)adultery
            4)remarriage after divorce
            5)any non vaginal sex
            6)use of contraception
            7) homosexual relations
            8)getting an abortion
            9) missing mass on Sunday or any Church service if not Catholic

            Now how many teachers non- Catholic or Catholic have been fired for all of those reasons other than #7. Until there is universal enforcement of all 9 sins in the list I tend to think that enforcement is due to prejudice and bigotry.

  1. The right choice, Frank? What complete, utter and uneducated drivel. This teacher’s firing for marrying his same sex partner is the same as a white teacher, years ago, being fired for marrying a black person. The mere notion that the Sky Fairy would be displeased is such bunk. It’s this very thinking that is destroying the GOP. Would be that it could destroy fundies too. Here’s hoping.

    • If the GOP is being destroyed, please explain its majority in the House. Also, please explain why all the liberals are running scared of next year’s election.

      • Dr Jim Stephens

        Wow! There are SO many things wrong here. Where do I begin? As a “refresher” to your Political Science 101 (assuming you went to college), Congressmen are elected LOCALLY! In America, you will find local communities of every persuasion; from bleeding-heart liberals to militant skin-heads. They send their chosen representative to Congress. And, I’m lost as to your claim that “all the liberals are running scared”. WHO? I’m not aware of ANY! Actually, all reports are that the next election is going to be a “cake-walk” for Democrats! People are SO tired of all the hatred and intolerance coming from the “Tea Party”. In order for a Republican to wage a decent contest, they must act Democratic; like Romney did!

        • Dr. Jim, let’s bet on next year’s elections. It is a FACT, that those Democrat senators up for reelection next year had a two-hour meeting with Obama in the past couple weeks to express their concerns.

          I doubt you even know the purpose of the Tea Party movement. It is a conservative attempt to make the GOP once again a conservative alternative to the liberal party. Your example of Romney is precisely the point: he didn’t project a conservative position and sufficient numbers of conservative voters simply stayed home last year to enable the socialist to remain in office. There are stats that support this, but I bet you are unaware of this.

          You needn’t remind me of Polysci 101. Perhaps that is your problem: going to school and taking polysci courses from liberals. Obamacare is likely to change the old formula that “all politics is local” and that next year’s election will be a referendum on that man-without-a-resume who occupies the White House. One caveat: Should the WH manage to straighten out the mess that is its centerpiece, there is a possibility its own careerists on the Hill will not suffer. That is highly unlikely, though, given the major displacements so many people are beginning to see in their current healthcare programs.

          Perhaps your news sources are only the mainstream media. Keep whistling past the graveyard.

      • That’s easy, Duane. The vast majority of those who pursue religion and the voters of this claimed democracy share one thing in common, they are uninformed non-thinkers. Religious discussions, including comments in forums like this, and politics/government discussion and voting patterns of our electorate prove that.

        • gilhcan, they’ve proven nothing of the sort. Regarding voting patterns, I’ll agree. After all, how could the majority twice elect an individual who never had a day’s experience as an executive, was in DC only two years, had a record in Illinois of voting “present” when he wasn’t actually defending the killing of babies who had survived abortion attempts, couldn’t produce a single student of his to vouch for academic brilliance and hid his academic record as well.

          But conservatives were pointing to all this even in ’07. He had a smile on his face (closer to a sneer), wore good clothes and didn’t talk “black” so as to be a threat, and voters saw him as a chance to prove to themselves that the whole country wasn’t racist, having bought that line from too many years prior in public schools and watching PBS.

          As for religious discussions: If you mean that there’s no merit in religion, then I’ll add you to the column of believers. Any statement made about the falsity of religiouss belief is itself an act of faith. There’s no more empirical evidence to support atheism than there is to support religious belief. If you have it, you are the first.

          If I got you all wrong, please say so. I do not fear apologizing publicly for public errors. I like to think we’re all here to learn as well as teach.

    • Beth, I should have included this in my first reply to you: Your comparison of being fired for “marrying” gay to being fired for marrying outside your own race is comparing apples to oranges. Racial identification has nothing to do with marriage itself, which is between a male and a female. The other union is an attack on the very concept of marriage itself.

      Griffin is doing what so many “moderns” think is their right: Sign any agreement but do what you wish regarding that agreement. If Griffin were honest with himself, he would have sought employment elsewhere in order to remain true to his own beliefs and respect the contract he agrees to. Instead, he chose to work for an employer on his own terms.

      That is a liberal position. I hope all the liberals can find a way to do this when it comes to the Obamacare that they voted for. They won’t be able to, of course, because liberals don’t make rules that accommodate anyone’s dissent.

      I presume you can see the inconsistency of the teacher’s position.

      • Christine Owsik

        Dear Duane Lamers –
        Your well-articulated responses are refreshing to see here. We sent one of our sons to Holy Ghost Prep, and are indeed proud of the authentically Catholic position they upheld here. So many Catholic schools and colleges are ‘looking the other way,’ despite agreements in place mandating that faculty and administration uphold the teachings of the Catholic Church, not make a mockery of it. Other religions do this, and so does the Catholic Church — for which is has the right.
        It’s time for Catholics to publicly stand up and defend what the Church teaches and be true to Christ — in and out of season. Kudos to Fr. McCloskey at HGP for doing just that.

      • You need to understand your “fruits” better, Duane. Though there are “apples and oranges,” they fit very nicely into one basket, just as would people of different races or same genders–if the basket were large enough.

        Get out your history books, Duane. Study and think for yourself. Even in the 1950s in such advanced states in this free, democratic nation as California, marriage between caucasians and orientals was disallowed, not only frowned upon. And not long before that, marriage between whites and blacks was not permitted in many states. Oh yes, and remember our Civil War?

        It’s still an eye opener in our culture. Just ask Bill De Blasio, the mayor-elect of New York City. There are trends in history. Keep your eye on this one for another 40 years.

        • gilhcan, the issue is not what you like to think it is from the examples you use. In every instance the issue was marriage between a man and a woman of different races. It wasn’t about gay “marriage.”

          I have no problem with the states coming up with some sort of accommodation for the unchangable fact that some people will choose to live together as same-sex couples. To begin with, there’s no reason to assume that anyone “chooses” his sexual orientation. My objection is with the use of the term “marriage” to describe such unions.

          You may be right, however. It’s all about assembling a PR program and influencing legislators and relying on the media and “education” to get to where you want to go.

          Ah, yes, Bill De Blasio. Let’s see what he adds to the mix once Bloomberg leaves. Government is god. Atheists take note. As for trends in history: some “trends” have led to the disappearance of societies and empires.

      • No. In fact the arguments used to attack mixed race marriage and gay marriage are virtually identical. Both use the same goofy slippery slope arguments, bad analogy, Bible thumping, losing the ability to discriminate against a group in public without social sanction.

        The fact that the anti-marriage equality people can’t produce a cogent, reasonable and factually supported argument every time they are challenged in court shows how shaky their ground really is.

        Marriage is a civil liberty, if your argument is religious in nature, it doesn’t have to be taken seriously. In our country we cannot have laws that do not have an underlying secular basis.

        A contract does not mean one voluntarily agrees to forgo their civil liberties. Especially when the employer had already accepted they were hiring a gay teacher, one who was in a union which was legally sanctioned for a number of years. The school’s prior actions estopped them from using the excuse of failing to adhere to the “church’s teachings”. The difference between a marriage and civil union means nothing in a religious context unless the person is being married in that church.

          • What’s the matter, you are unable to use Google?
            Ah, yes, ignorance trolling.

            See the links.

            https://www.ministrymagazine.org/archive/1967/08/biblical-myths-for-racial-segregation

            http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Bible-Verses-About-Segregation

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phinehas,_son_of_Eleazar

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curse_of_Ham

        • Larry, there were no “states” in the Middle East during biblical times to define marriage. There were no “states” in many of the more primitive parts of the world where the traditional concept of marriage is still to be found. Our country and its states never defined marriage until recently, indicating there was no need to define the concept. You choose to consider it the state’s right to do this defining, which is indicative of the power you believe the state should have. Communist and other dictators think they have the same right, although we never did find any Communist regime redefining marriage. Perhaps they, too, though this to be beyond their power or surmised that doing so might lead to revolution..

          Regarding other points: Perhaps you don’t approve of private school’s rules relative to marriage. I wonder whether you approve of the current DC regime’s rules regarding healthcare.

          And this: It sounds like excuse-making, perhaps not sincere, that you simply move on to other topics, thereby not taking time to respond to a poster’s point. Really?

          No, I have no need to have the last word. I involve myself in ongoing discussions. So do you. And you “take notes,” as is evidenced by your reply below regarding Frank. I’ll stand by my judgment that if liberals have strong arguments and/or are fearless in proclaiming their foundational principles regarding government and culture, they’ll do so. Otherwise they’ll make excuses for not doing so.

          Sometimes conservatives make the judgment that contemporary liberals, especially those in the political sphere, are would-be dictators. One never would have made that sort of judgment about liberals back two generations ago, indicating how convoluted liberals and their “ism” have become. A good example is Obama and his Care.

          • “Larry, there were no “states” in the Middle East during biblical times to define marriage. ”

            At this point there is no point in discussing anything with you. Your ignorance and inability to understand a point has been made obvious. “State” in my context meaning the government. Like in the expressions “Church and State” or “Enemy of the State”.

            Your other points are inane and ridiculous.
            -What a private school does and what a government does are not the same thing. Whatever equivalence argument you have is in your head.

            -All nations and governments define marriage in one form or another. They create civil laws governing the subject. The only time religion has any say on the subject is when the religion and the state are one in the same.

            Marriage has been redefined radically from all “Biblical” notions in the last 2 millennium. Biblical Marriage was polygamous, a commercial transaction, compensation to a family for r@pe, a political alliance, and sometimes involved s3xual slavery. Very different from a modern version. Very different from even a medieval notion. Governments redefined marriage in the modern era by striking down anti-micegenation laws. Laws which most of its supporters claimed had Biblical support.

            It was also redefined by no-fault divorce, ending legal sanctions for non-marital children, and legalization of contraception. Upholding a tradition is not a rational argument unless you can give a reason why it has to be upheld on its own merits. You are afraid to give such a reason.

            Our earliest laws on the subject came with our earliest forms of government. You are just too ignorant on the subject to bother with an intelligent understanding of the subject.

            -You have proven that there really is no point carrying on a discussion with you on the subject because you lack a basic level of understanding of it. It is obvious you are motivated by less than good faith rational causes here.

      • Diane, How many divorced and remarried teachers have been fired? How many teachers have been fired for missing mass or church services? How about using contraception? Keep in mind it doesn’t matter if the divorced teacher is Catholic or not because Catholic schools have fired non-Catholic homosexual teachers for getting married even though that teacher’s religion allows same sex weddings. So does the Catholic school also fire a non-Catholic divorced and remarried teacher? Do they fire and Catholic who married a divorced man or woman without an annulment first? This is not a case of standing up for Catholic values. This is a case of standing up for ONE Catholic value and letting the rest skate on by. Until there is universal enforcement of ALL Catholic values I tend to think of discrimination.

    • Beth, the difference between you and “Frank” is that you are an informed, thinking person, you do not just blindly submit yourself to the pro forma thinking of another, a so-called authority.

    • It is nonsense to think that someone who works for a religious organization actually follow the beliefs of that organization. :rolleyes

      There is nothing anyone can so to change the truth of God but hey go ahead and waste your life trying ifyou want.

  2. Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    It is typical fraudulent gay arguing that equates the color of one’s skin with a chosen act or acts. The only reason it isn’t laughed away as a totally absurd argument is that the media has become a propaganda arm of the gay “marriage” comical charade. Thus it reports stories on this topic with a straight face. Sadly, some fall for this version of cows flying.

    • Are you a self-ordained deacon, John? It should be hoped that you could read more accurately and recognize equating the limitation of the right to marriage between those of the same sex and sexual orientation with the former limitation against the right to marriage between people of different races. A careful study of our history might help–as well as some good theology.

          • They use the Old Testament when they want to talk tough and contradict any of that Christian love of mankind stuff that Jesus tried to teach.

            What did Jesus say about homosexuality? Nothing. He did bless and heal a gay couple though.

      • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

        Study history??? If you dared honestly look at past human history you would find homosexual activity was considered by virtually all cultures and religions as run-away hedonism or a perversion . And we are making it all legal????
        Sometimes people of the past got things quite right while today’s bizarre attitudes get things quite wrong.
        The fact that the prime purpose and result of heterosexual activity is the survival of a people or nation into the future (and is why traditional marriage earned a special place in most cultures) while the prime result of homosexual activity is a virtual attack on a people or nation having a future. This puts marriage issues in a whole different category from issues regarding race.
        That some people today understand this truth far less than primitive peoples just shows the power of modern ignorance.

        • Earold Gunter

          D. J. MB, So why not be as adamantly opposed to heterosexuals who marry but can’t procreate for any physical reason, or simply choose not to? Shouldn’t that be illegal as well, since they don’t insure the future existence of man with offspring?

  3. I appreciate the leadership of that Catholic high school for doing the right thing. And yes, I’m glad that Pope Francis is NOT the principal of that high school.

    Otherwise that gay teacher would have gotten a free pass on everything, and those Catholic students would be (de facto) enrolling in Gay Marriage 101 !!

    • Doc, I’m not so sure that Francis would take the position you suggest. Remember, he has noted frequently, including in Evangelli Gaudium, that he holds fast to Catholic doctrine.

      “The quiet enjoyment of our lives” is a concept dear to all of us. I do not see it impossible for a gay teacher to enjoy this as well. Why did he make the effort to introduce his partner to school functions? Is there a need here for him to be “confessional”? Was he interested in provoking the school and Church to test them? I suspect there are other gay teachers in Catholic schools, just as their are gays in the priesthood and religious life. It is one thing to be gay or heterosexual and quite another to advertize the fact or “act” on it. He lives in New Jersey, and I doubt that his life back home could ever come to the attention of Philadelphia teenagers.

      For the socialists among us, though, the answer is simple: Some people’s rights are more important than other peoples’. Obamacare is an exquisite example of this sort of reasoning among would-be, closeted tyrants.

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