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Inside the 'glass closet' of a gay Catholic teacher



Being both gay and Catholic leads to a somewhat fraught existence. On one hand, we have our Catholic peers who, frequently, have trouble empathising with what it means to be 'intrinsically disordered'. On the other, we have our queer friends who are, understandably, sceptical of our allegiance to an organisation that has a deep history of discrimination towards people like us.

Man covering face with transparent handsThis existence is further complicated for those of us who choose to partake in ministry that sees us employed by the Church.

I am a gay man and, also, a religion teacher in a Catholic school. Recently, I've begun to wonder if my teaching days are numbered, particularly given Archbishop Denis Hart's comments (reported, but since clarified) about Catholic organisations firing gay staff.

It's the great unspoken rule of Church organisations that gay people must fly under the radar. A 'don't ask, don't tell' policy is implied, but all of us are acutely aware we work in one of the few jobs not protected by anti-discrimination laws. This black cloud hangs over our every public action because, for some reason, teachers' lives are something our communities feel entitled to know and talk about.

Whether it's our social media posts, or even just holding our partner's hand in public, we must carefully curate our outward appearance so as to not technically break Church rules, even if many of us live in a 'glass closet'. Though we know it is unlikely we will be fired, we also know the potential is there if the wrong student or parent catches whiff of our supposedly un-Christian behaviour.

Last year I got my first long-term boyfriend since becoming a teacher. This was an exciting time for me, as it was part of embracing my queer identity. But what should have been a joyous occasion led to a great deal of anxiety. I had to explain to a man I cared about that, even though I wasn't ashamed of him, I couldn't risk listing him as my partner on Facebook. I was lucky that he was understanding, though it still hurt to explain it to him.

You may think this isn't a big deal, but I would challenge the average person to go weeks, months, and years without mentioning any aspect of their love life to any coworker. The stress of hiding a major part of life is not insignificant; one wrong move and our livelihood is on the line. This is not to mention that, with the personal scrutiny school administration positions face, our career advancement opportunities in Catholic schools are limited.

People ask: 'Why don't you just move into the state system?' It's a fair question. But my answer is simple: I just don't want to. I love working in a place where my faith is ingrained in the everyday routine; a place where Catholicism's history and tradition are taught, explored and questioned.


"LGBTIQ+ people have a lot to contribute to our Catholic schools. To deny our students access to amazing teachers is surely a greater assault to 'decency' than what these teachers are doing in the privacy of their own homes."


Ever since I decided I wanted to be a teacher, I wanted to teach religion. Though it's not my job to convert students, like in the old catechetical model of Catholic schools, I hope students can at least leave my classroom with an appreciation of how faith contributes to our world. I'm gay, but I'm also Catholic.

LGBTIQ+ people have a lot to contribute to our Catholic schools. To deny our students access to amazing teachers is surely a greater assault to 'decency' than what these teachers are doing in the privacy of their own homes. This, of course, leads to the question that many queer Catholics have about the institutional Church: Why is the same level of scrutiny not applied to our heterosexual colleagues?

I know a great many Church employees who live in open defiance of its teachings. People who are divorced, remarried without annulment, married outside the Church, cohabiting before marriage, have children out of marriage, or are engaging in premarital sex. I have also worked with many people who don't even identify as Catholic. Surely if we are using adherence to Catholic belief as our yardstick for employability, then people who openly reject papal authority (e.g. Protestants), or reject belief in the Holy Trinity (eg. non-Christians) would fall short of the mark.

I'm not, of course, advocating that people in these groups should be excluded from employment in Catholic institutions — on the contrary. Rather, this is just to illustrate that to single out gay Catholic employees is to arbitrarily discriminate against an already vulnerable group. That, surely, would be a plank in the Church's eye far bigger than the speck in mine.



Alex Ryan is a teacher in a Catholic school. He is writing under a pseudonym.

Topic tags: Alex Ryan, teacher, marriage equality



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Existing comments

I get it, Alex. The sensation of walking on eggshells every all the time while doing something you love must be incredibly painful. I'd guess, too, that everyone associated with you at school feels a lot of anxiety that 'the wrong parent' will make a complaint, and they'll have to face losing a great teacher who loves his faith and is eager to communicate it. (Very difficult to find such teachers, even in Catholic schools). I'd imagine your Archbishop would feel the same way, by the way, even if his role demands that he teach the party line. It isn't your being gay that threatens your employment in a Catholic school. It's openly admitting that you're partnered. Yet how can you continue to be true to yourself and to your relationship, if doing so means denying it and even teaching that sexual relationships between people of the same sex are forbidden? Your position is untenable, and it's your school community that will be the loser if you're forced to choose.

Joan Seymour | 30 August 2017  

Thanks for your compelling writing Alex. I've read the article twice and what I mostly feel is anger. I'm angry that you are being exposed to such difficulty in your professional and personal life. I'm angry also that your life in your own words is "something our communities feel entitled to know and talk about". Our children deserve nothing less than amazing teachers. Teachers who are amazing because they love the work that they do and are respectful towards their young charges. I believe in the church because I believe the church is important to God. We all fall short in this privilege God has given us but surely love, not dogma, should guide us.

Pam | 30 August 2017  

God bless Alex. You have my support

Mary | 30 August 2017  

Thank you for sharing this. Many people do not realise that it is not mutually exclusive to be LGBTI+ and Catholic. I wish our Church was already the inclusive place I know it can be.

MoiBG | 30 August 2017  

Thank you for your thoughtful and honest account. I am a relatively open gay catholic teacher working in a catholic school. I'm often challenged as to why I don't just move to the state system. You beautifully articulated my sentiments. Thank you. It's great to know I'm not alone!

Rebecca Bond | 30 August 2017  

Dear Alex (pseudonym), I found your post very moving. But from where I stand I find it hard to imagine how you can wish to work for an institution that rides roughshod over peoples’ dissident experiences and consciences. Especially a religion teacher! What religion is it that you actually teach? Perhaps you can get away with speaking about what Jesus did not say, and an enlightened meaning of the Gospel. But even there, you are up against, it seems to me, about 1900 years of tightly controlled hermeneutic. Are you saying you agree with all of that? If you mean you don’t but that you have a more subliminal psycho-emotional attachment to the Church of your childhood, then although that is a common experience amongst disaffected Catholics, it doesn’t explain how you can stomach the contradictions involved. I guess what I’m saying is, how can you be surprised by the hypocrisy of the clerical Church in not applying the same stringent standards to all manner of heterosexuals, to embezzlers, liars, rapists, bullies etc. etc?

smk | 30 August 2017  

Respect to you. Well and poignantly expressed.

Debbie Clarke | 30 August 2017  

Alex, Anyone who chooses to teach in a Catholic school understands the expectations of staff conduct, including the obligation to support Catholic teaching and be a role model for students in living out the faith. Catholic schools put before all their staff, irrespective of gender, common expectations or codes of conduct,based on the evangelising and prophetic mission of the Church, which does involve "questioning", though not in a way that undermines magisterial teaching and respect for the authority on which it is based. Do you suppose, given Archbishop Hart's clarification, that "gay Catholic employees" are likely to be arbitrarily singled out for special treatment? And if you do, from where does this concern arise? ?

John | 30 August 2017  

Great article. I think you'll find that staff and students alike will not be boffered. Highly unlikely that you'd be "the only gay in the village" though.

Val | 30 August 2017  

It is good that you acknowledge that your actions are against the teachings of the church. Like those who live in other wrong relationships. It is also good that you do not promote homosexuality openly, for in doing so I have no doubt that you would be dismissed from your post. I think that the Catholic Church teaches that a person with same sex attraction, should either live in a celibate state, or perhaps find an understanding woman. As a Christian myself the best thing that ever happened to me was when others challenged me privately to give up those relationships that were against the teachings of the church, and to pursue either celibacy or marriage with the right woman. After many years of frustration, I finally met my match, where upon all other options faded away.

Peter Shanahan | 31 August 2017  

My reading of Archbishop's Hart's comment was that same sex marrried teachers could not expect to teach at Catholic schools as the Church does not condone sane sex marriage.

Rosemary Sheehan | 31 August 2017  

Alex, thank you for your brave & heartfelt words. God bless you, your partner & your daily work.

Helen Grace | 31 August 2017  

God bless you, Alex. I taught in the Catholic system for 35 years, and for much of that time with a gay colleague. I love my faith and I will vote yes because I believe you are as deserving as any of us to be true to your nature. I am not gay and I live my faith every day. Jesus is my alpha and omega.

Patricia Taylor | 31 August 2017  

Well spoken, Alex. I am sure you are speaking for many of us. Thank you; for many of us who love our Catholic heritage and find fulfilling work within its cloisters, yet currently, it is certainly difficult to comprehend that that "Mother Church", all encompassing feeling and caring regard for one and all, when there appears a moment when She says "Tut tut! Naughty. Good boys don't do that"! The final wording of the plebiscite will hopefully be less slanted to the "yes" vote and more ambient to an all inclusive ideology.

Murray J Greene | 31 August 2017  

Alex, A very touching story. As a retired teacher who spent almost three decades in Catholic Education I can understand your dilemma . I recall a situation many years ago where a male member of staff married a female member on the staff but the marriage only lasted a year and they divorced .The Headmaster fired the lady soon after the divorce. I was shocked then and still feel quite angry when I remember this very unchristian action. Both were good friends of mine and wonderful co workers. These days the situation has changed very much for the better Maybe the same change in attitude will happen for you in the future. God bless.

Gavin | 31 August 2017  

"I love working in a place where my faith is ingrained in the every day routine; a place where Catholicism's history and tradition are taught, explored and questioned". You must work in one of the rarest Catholic educational institutions in the country, Alex.

john frawley | 31 August 2017  

As a retired Catholic Nurse I have worked with many "gay" people and have found them to be caring and compassionate people. I pray that one day soon a Gene will be found to prove positively that being "Gay" is real and not an hedonistic choice. Best wishes to you Alex and other gay teachers.

Marie Dwyer | 31 August 2017  

Has the Church forgotten that Christ most important message was ' Do unto others as you would have them do unto you?'. As a realistic committed Christian Catholic, I believe Christ would not have discriminated gays anymore than he disdained Mary Magdellan's company. Please God more people will look to the Jesuit schools for realistic leadership.

Sheila Crewther | 31 August 2017  

You have articulated so many facets of this situation so well. Thank you. The Church's teachings need to continue to reflect societal changes. Little of our New Millennium society is the same as it was in or before Jesus' time. We are a religion that preaches love, acceptance and tolerance yet we still ostracise those who love a same-sex partner. Why?? For how much longer??

Emma | 31 August 2017  

MARIE I don't think we need to find a gene that proves homosexuality is real. The reality has been known for thousands of years. It is indeed so real that it is rarely a hedonistic choice. Many contributory causes to the failure of psychological maturity, including sexual maturity, have been canvassed in the research literature which records that despite years of searching for a gene even in identical homosexual twins, such has never been found. The literature does suggest that environmental factors are far more potent in the generation of same sex preference. As a nurse I am sure you are aware that all human conditions, physical and psychological are either congenital or acquired. In the absence of any congenital causes to date, the research suggests that same sex preference is acquired through environmental factors operative in the main in the formative years of childhood. There is thus no "blame" for any perceived abnormality of sexual orientation that can be laid on the same sex orientated person. And of course, sexual orientation bears no relationship to other human traits such as compassion or talents such as artistic abilities in all its forms or intellectual endeavours. Because this orientation causes so much distress to so many people, perhaps rather than look for a gene we should look for a solution that might reverse the environmental factors which might have produced the grounds for such distress. [Sigmund Freud proposed this approach over 100 years ago] We define all manner of distressing problems associated with environmental factors in childhood associated with parenting etc. but for some reason choose to exclude those that may be a cause of distress in the same sex orientated. In any event the gay person is certainly not culpable if there is anyone to "blame"- maybe the straits like me are.

john frawley | 31 August 2017  

How many single heterosexual Catholic school staff members are probed about their sexual activities? The message I'm getting from some of the hostile comments on this article is - just go ahead and live your life of promiscuous abandon and go to hell.

AURELIUS | 31 August 2017  

Alex I felt so sad when I read your article. At the Catholic Primary school my children attended there was a gay teacher whose kindness was legendary. All difficult children gravitated to him. I was very annoyed when I was told he was gay, because I thought it was no business of mine. For the many years that he was at the school, he was a safe haven for the difficult, the bright and bored children and the little monsters. All did well under his kindly, gentle guidance. Please stay Alex and teach religion with the passion you obviously have for it. Make the church and its teachings real to children, not the bigotry of other people. I hope and pray you can be comfortable to stay and let the privileged youngsters have the benefit of your love and care.

Gabrielle | 31 August 2017  

Alex, I do sympathise with you and think that you are very brave to live as truly as you can. I recently wrote to a friend, "When I get my voting paper I think I am going to write ”This is the wrong question” on it, There won’t be room to explain what I mean and so I won’t be voting, for the first time since I could vote. It seems a pretty fruitless vote to me and I think it will pass and then we shall see how the Prime Minister avoids it becoming law. I would like to propose a change in the law to register ”Personal Partnerships” for anyone and indeed 'everyone' who wishes to make vows to live and love one other person exclusively for their lifetimes. This does not need to mention the word marriage at all. This witnessed statement would entitle the partners to all the legal rights they are asking for. Same sex partners would be next of kin, they could inherit, they would enjoy all the legal rights that married people now have in Australia. Those partners who wish to receive the Sacrament of marriage can easily do this by asking a priest or minister to witness such a ceremony on a day following the civil ceremony. This would not leave anyone with all the dilemmas being warned against in the press of late. (I think this has been the practice in Europe for ordinary marriage for some years.)"

Joan | 31 August 2017  

Succinctly put. As a Protestant I look to Jesus as my umpire. Where did he preach about sex lives?

Nancy bond | 01 September 2017  

Joan in the diocese that is adjacent to my own the Bishop has been suggesting a national scheme of civil unions for at least two years. If only there were more like him. Either that or more of his flock to take the initiative in advocating such a solution. The current debate, including the deplorable TV ads put out by a group that enjoys massive support from within the Catholic Church, reflects very poorly on our community.

Margaret | 01 September 2017  

Yes Joan, that is what happens in a number of European countries, for example France. There, marriage - civil marriage - is just that, and is the only form of marriage recognised for civil purposes. The ceremony is conducted by a civil official, not by a religious official. If couples wish the supplement their civil marriage with a religious one they can do that, but the religious one has no relevance to civil law. Why would you want to call a civil marriage like that a 'Personal Partnership'? What's wrong with the word 'marriage'? Are you proposing it just for same sex partners, are for all non-religious marriages? If the former, that's discrimination; if the latter, how do you think that would go down with the vast majority of couples who no longer have religious weddings?

Ginger Meggs | 01 September 2017  

Perhaps the saddest line in this very sad piece is: "Though it's not my job to convert students, like in the old catechetical model of Catholic schools..." Catholic teacher or not, if you're a Catholic, it's not only your "job": it's your solemn duty as a Catholic to convert all you can to Christ.

HH | 01 September 2017  

Great article by Alex and great and varied comments. However, the more I read on the topic, to a certain degree, I remain confused. Ironically, today's reading at Mass began with Paul's letter to the Thessalonians (4:1-8) in which he states, in part, "He (God) wants you to keep away from fornication, and each of you to know how to use the body that belongs to him in a way that is holy and honourable, not giving way to selfish lust like the pagans who do not know God....we have been called by God to be holy, and not to be immoral, ..." Question - is Paul only referring to heterosexuals as being ímmoral' when they misbehave or is he including homosexuals as well? Everything I am reading on this subject is very profound depending on each person's sexual position - so what do we all think Jesus would do? PS - is it possible that Paul is likening "Gays' as having to be Pagans?

Peggy Spencer | 01 September 2017  

As a teacher in a Catholic school, currently in a closeted same-sex relationship- this really resonated. The sadness when colleagues discuss their partners so openly, and the realisation that a key part of your life must remain hidden, is really hard to bear. My partner dropped me off at work the other day, and I nearly had a panic attack when I noticed a student watching. It is difficult when you love parts of your job, but hate being made to feel ashamed of your identity. Thanks for sharing.

Paloma | 01 September 2017  

The Church's current stance is so reminiscent of what happened around "Humanae Vitae". It's sexuality values are so biologically driven that there is no real acceptance of the primary value of loving relationships.

Chris Adey | 01 September 2017  

‘Alex Ryan’ as a practising homosexual is trespassing by teaching RE in a Catholic school. In fact, he makes RE ‘unsafe’. He has, however, almost every business teaching everything else in a Catholic school from Accounting to Zoology, because homosexuals have to eat and Catholic employers, like any other, are obliged in charity not to hinder the pursuit of livelihood. Schools act in loco parentis, safeguarding the body of the student as well as what passes in her head in place of the parents who, during school hours, are usually busy doing the modern equivalents of foraging for food and shelter. Otherwise, if they were good teachers who live their subjects, they would be modelling their kids everything from Accounting to Zoology, plus RE. But what RE would they be modelling? They don’t own the content of RE, God through the Church does. The Accounting to Zoology that ‘Alex Ryan’ would be modelling to students would generally be the same as that modelled by the parents. The modelling that ‘Alex Ryan’ does in RE would be far from what God-in-Church would expect the parents to be modelling. ‘Alex Ryan’ has many places in a Catholic school, just not in RE.

Roy Chen Yee | 02 September 2017  

The moral theologian Janet Smith once remarked: "We're all sexually dysfunctional in one way or another." It's true: just about every person coming into the world struggles with obeying the sixth commandment. But to teach the Catholic faith is to lovingly teach it whole and entire, and *as* whole and entire: a seamless garment. "Truth Himself speaks truly." And so it includes the moral law, along with teaching, from the wisdom and lives of the saints, the strategies we can use and the habits we can develop so that we can obey that oft-times difficult law, and come to cherish it as our path to eternal life. "Incline my heart to your decrees", the psalmist sings. That's what Catholic schools should be about: inclining a child's heart to God and His plan for us, as revealed in the infallible teaching of the Catholic Church. And the best (and hardest!) form of teaching is ... by example.

HH | 02 September 2017  

Roy Chen Yee: Nor should, for the reasons you express, the State own the content of RE in Catholic schools.

John | 03 September 2017  

Alex does not "want" to teach in a public school, he "wants" to teach religion in a Catholic school. Parents have "wants" too. They may want their children to be taught the Catholic faith. That is why they make sacrifices to send them to a Catholic school.The wants of parents, who pay the wages of the teachers, outweigh the wants of a teacher who is not suitable for the job. It is not hatred,or ignoring the precept of "do unto others etc", to decide that a particular person is not suitable for a particular job

Jenny O'Rourke | 04 September 2017  

Jenny O'Rourke's comment raises the question of just what makes a Catholic school distinctive, a question that becomes urgent for Catholic parents in times of economic difficulty.

John | 04 September 2017  

Dear Alex, as a Catholic principal in a Catholic school I wish I could declare my real name while supporting you. I am bouyed by the Church teaching that we are obliged to follow our informed conscience. One day the Church will look back at itself in this period with appropriate shame, just like when we turned our back on the Jews, and when we conspired in the stolen generation, and when we declared science the enemy, and tortured people etc., etc., etc. I wish the Church had the loudest voice on the dignity of every person made in God's image, refugee advocacy, ending poverty and championing the stewardship of our crumbling ecology. Instead, it is cultivating oppression and discrimination. Thanks for your bravery and for teaching our kids. Thanks for seeing past the mess the Church has made. I'm genuinely sorry you can't express your love. Hey, wait a minute; God *is Love! How ironic.

Betty Valley (pseudonym) | 04 September 2017  

'Betty': The Church has acknowledged and apologized for actual historical evils her members have committed, but I doubt she "will look back . . . with shame" on upholding Christ's teaching on marriage.

John | 05 September 2017  

Does Betty, as a Catholic school principal, support Alex's statement that a "wrong" parent is one who expects that the Catholic faith, all of it,be taught in a Catholic school? How does she justify accepting such a parent's fees, that pay her wages, and Alex's, and not doing what she is paid to do? A parent who expects a Catholic school to do what it exists for is not a wrong parent.What is wrong is the deception of parents, and the branding of them as "wrong " if they should find out.

Jenny O'Rourke | 05 September 2017  

When John states: " Catholic teacher or not, if you're a Catholic, it's not only your "job", it's your solemn duty as a Catholic to convert all you can to Christ", he betrays a singular misunderstanding of the role of the Catholic school and educator in the process of evangelisation. There can be no engagement with the missiological role of the Catholic Church in any contemporary cultural context - be it within the Catholic school, hospital or parish as well as outside it - without an attention to justice. This is precisely why we don't engage anymore in forced conversions, which were once the standard practice of the Conquistadores, and as heart-rendingly illustrated by Dostoevsky in his account of the Second Coming of Christ in the story of The Grand Inquisitor in 'The Brothers Karamazov'. Nor do we engage in mass conversions for Christ in the manner of 'other-wordly' evangelicals, with no concern for justice in 'this world'...as much within the Catholic school as outside it.

Dr Michael Furtado | 07 September 2017  

Dr Furtado: Please note that the opinion you attribute to me is not mine. I agree that Catholic schools should promote justice in relation to faith and practice:a "faith that does justice", as Jesuit and other schools now put it. I believe also that this justice includes the right of parents and students to instruction and practice of the Catholic faith, essential characteristics of a Catholic ethos. I do not subscribe to a definition of faith that 'evangelizes' in the extreme and coercive ways to which you refer; and I doubt that any Catholic schools today operate in such ways, if indeed they ever did. (From reading his postings, I doubt, too, that "HH", whose comment you confuse with mine, would believe they should, either).

John | 08 September 2017  

Apologies, John, to you and HH. When you state that the inextricability of my link between justice and evangelisation must also include the right of parents and students to instruction in the Catholic faith (which, I agree, is an essential characteristic of a Catholic ethos) I take issue with you in regard to the proportionality of your argument. A Catholic ethos once included a belief in the morality of slavery, in the Divine Right of Kings and in the righteousness of regicide. None of these, as far as I am aware, are articles of faith. Indeed, one of the major arguments against liberation theology, was its appeal to violence in the overthrow of oppressive regimes. By the same token, my moral theology informs me that, precisely because it is impossible to teach without authenticity, one should not hide who one is, which is what the current practice forbidding self-disclosure of gay identity imposes. Consequently, I would have thought it essential that any school-administering Catholic congregation, parent or student would be encouraged by proposed changes to the law to support the fact that Catholics comes in all shapes and sizes, the diversity and inclusion of which should always be entirely respected.

Dr Michael Furtado | 08 September 2017  

Dr Furtado: Thank you. I'm glad that's clarified. Why, though do you invoke archaic examples which were never part of the Catholic Church's deposit of faith, as you acknowledge. When I am referring to the connection between faith and ethos, I am referring I am to what is de fide, of which the Church's teaching on marriage is a part. And I believe it would be anomalous, to say the least, for teachers employed to teach the Catholic faith to announce to students that they oppose basic tenets of this faith. Surely that would be a form of systemic mauvais foi ?

John | 08 September 2017  

John, you are indeed right to believe it would be anomalous, to say the least, for teachers employed to teach the Catholic faith to announce to students that they oppose basic tenets of the faith. That would undoubtedly constitute a form of systemic mauvaise foi, which I too would strongly oppose. However, what is healthier, more professional and ethical than an open climate in which a Catholic teacher does not need to be deceitful about his sexual orientation? After all, while such orientation should never be assumed, it should never be a consideration in appointing a teacher to a Catholic school because of its subjective, irrelevant and unjust connotations. As a Catholic teacher-educator of long standing I have sat on several selection panels on which this matter has never been raised or even assumed, simply because it would be inappropriate for any educator, heterosexual or otherwise, to parade his proclivities out of curricular context. Far better for such matters to be treated as open and above board than assigned to the hidden agenda of the school to dangle like the Sword of Damocles over an employee's head. The repository of faith that includes Catholic Social Teaching would undoubtedly support this.

Dr Michael Furtado | 12 September 2017  

Dr Furtado: In my experience of Catholic schools, sexual orientation of staff has not been an issue, except, where staff, in rare instances, have chosen to make it one. I don't see how a "Sword of Damocles" hangs over the head of any staff member whose actions accord with the conditions of employment they understand and freely accept.

John | 13 September 2017  

John, since some Catholics like you appear to draw a distinction between being gay and engaging in a same sex marital relationship while holding down a teaching position - not a distinction that I and many Catholics like me, and indeed a majority of Australians would apparently accept - it is incumbent upon those Catholic educational employers who may think like you do to explicitly state that they would not employ gay teachers who are not prepared to remain closeted. This would not only be laughed out of the courts, it would also expose those who think like you do to make a mockery of the Catholic educational philosophy that one teaches who one is.

Dr Michael Furtado | 14 September 2017  

Dr Furtado: There are many Catholics who identify as "gay", but do not "engage in a same-sex marital relationship"; nor do they display any desire to do so. This is a real and significant distinction.I'd have thought the matter of employment conditions of staff in Catholic schools has already been resolved.

John | 14 September 2017  

John, the survey data shows that most Australians, whether Catholic or otherwise, don't accept the distinction you draw between same-sex oriented persons who lead single lives and others who do not, which is a distinction drawn only by the Catholic Church, in respect of its insistence on lifelong celibacy for same-sex oriented people. Your distinction between being and doing is widely contested by many within the Church and outside, as evidenced in these columns. Furthermore, linking such a distinction as you make, without evidence to support it, with the official view that same-sex orientation is gravely disordered, when a great many moral philosophers and theologians, both inside and beyond the confines of Catholicism, contest such a view on grounds of ontological reality and morality, is fanciful if not absurd. As to your claim that "the matter of employment conditions of staff in Catholic schools has already been resolved", there are many who would disagree with you, including Frank Brennan, who has called for a strengthening of the exemptions clause and Andy Hamilton, who argues cogently in these columns for a Church that respects gay employees who contract same-sex marriages.

Dr Michael Furtado | 15 September 2017  

Dr Furtado: Why, since you acknowledge the distinction drawn by the Catholic Church, do you invoke "survey data" against the Church's position? Is it that you rate poll results above Church teaching, regarding them as determinants of doctrine? And how do you reconcile your own admission in a posting above, " . . . it would be anomalous . . . for teachers employed to teach Catholic faith to announce that they oppose basic tenets of faith" with your endorsement of same-sex marriages for Catholic school staff?

John | 15 September 2017  

The second sentence in the second last paragraph of Alex's piece should read "divorced AND remarried without annulment", rather than "divorced" followed by a comma. It is not a sin to be divorced - divorce is a civil construct and essential for the division of property and the proper maintenance of children of a marriage that has ended. It is disappointing that the stigma attached to divorce is perpetuated in an article speaking up against another kind of stigma. Being divorced of itself should be no impediment to teaching at a Catholic school. Many people who are divorced have no choice in the matter!

Stigmatised | 16 September 2017  

John, there is a growing theological view that Church teaching counts for nothing unless it enjoys the support of the faithful. For instance, the overwhelming rejection amongst married Catholics of the injunction against the use of 'artificial' contraception is invoked as an example of the moribund nature of some Church instruction. As to your second point, I endorse Fr Hamilton's view, expressed in the article adjoining this, that gay teachers should not be persecuted. By the same token it appears perfectly consistent to me that they should not try to hide their identity for fear of blackmail and/or dismissal that the author of this article mentions. A wise principal would, in my expressed view, be able to differentiate a proselytising teacher with an axe to grind from another living their life in good conscience and with the evident dignity that a Christian, whose lived behaviour coheres with their values, effectively teaches. The only exception to this rule, I'm afraid, would be the employment of homophobes in a Catholic school, which I regard as inconsistent with a Catholic ethos. Because homosexuality is not chosen, the persecution of such a staff member would properly be regarded as akin to employing a racist.

Dr Michael Furtado | 27 September 2017  

Dr Furtado, there is a real distinction between theological opinion and official Church teaching, as all Catholic theologians know.And by your own reckoning in response to another recent article in Eureka Street, you regard all who dispute same-sex marriage as homophobes. Do you really think they should be excluded from employment on a Catholic staff?

John | 27 September 2017  

John, most theologians would contest the distinctions you draw about the magisterium. Professor Dr The Rev Fr Ormonde Rush, a nephew of the late Archbishop of Brisbane, and who teaches at ACU, privileges the notion of reception (by the faithful if dogma is to be declared infallible) in his book, 'The Eye of Faith'. The only way we shall find out about this post-Vatican II, would be to consult the faithful, but I'd wager that most of the Australian episcopal appointees of the previous two papacies would run a marathon before arranging such a consultation, which may help explain why the faithful have evidently voted with their feet in droves. That being the case, I am hardly in the business of replacing one dictatorial mode of moral diktat with another and would, as Our Lord & Saviour Jesus Christ does in Matthew 21-22 (41-46, RSV), do my utmost, as evidenced in my posts, to defend gay teachers under threat of dismissal for declaring their love, by ensuring that their employment conditions are protected as well as by returning to those as condemnatory of them as you are, the questions posed by Jesus to the scribes and pharisees who baited him.

Dr Michael Furtado | 29 September 2017  

Dr Furtado, How exactly do you arrive at the notion there is that there is widespread consensus among theologians and the faithful that their opinions carry greater weight than that of the Church's magisterium? Moreover, is regrettable that you regard disagreement with your opinion not only as homophobic but also as "condemnatory."

John | 03 October 2017  

John, as far as I can see you have not managed to overturn my argument in terms of my explanation that the magisterium counts for nothing unless supported by the People of God. I have also cited the recent publication of a highly regarded Australian theologian in support of it. As to your closing remark, my first teaching appointment was at The Rosary School, Heston, in London. While teaching there a staff-member, remarking on the totally White identity of all the students, within the wider context of the school's location in Hounslow, which is an area that has attracted the settlement of large numbers of persons from the sub-continent, stated one day at lunchtime: "Thank God we have no coloured people at this school." It happens that I am a person of colour, but I was too intimidated by her comment to say anything. My teaching colleague, Tom Carey (a Graduate of Heythrop College and now deceased, but published quite frequently in the ACU journal, Catholic School Studies) immediately rebuked her for her racist remark. These days I would do the same, both to a homophobe as to a racist, because I detect no qualitative difference between the two phobias.

Dr Michael Furtado | 04 October 2017  

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