Thursday, April 25, 2013

What is it about Lesbians and their mother's funerals that cause so much trouble for Catholics?

Carla Hale, P.E. teacher Watterson High School

The Children's Hour.

It's not a funny story at all, but...

This is the second incident concerning a Lesbian and her mom's funeral to make headlines in the Catholic Blogosphere in a year or so.  The first involved a priest refusing a Lesbian Holy Communion at her mom's funeral.  This time around, a Lesbian included her partner's name with her own in her mom's obituary. 

Carla Hale was fired for a spousal relationship - not her sexual orientation.

Ms. Hale's mom died, she included her partner's name in the obit - at her brother's urging - obviously the family accepted her 'relationship'.  Someone at the Catholic school where she taught and coached for 20 years read the obit and informed the chancery and Carla was fired when she returned from funeral leave, because her relationship is immoral.  What the Church teaches and requires of those who work for the Church, is to lead moral lives in conformity to Church teaching - even if you happen to be Methodist, as is Ms. Hale.  Now it appears lawsuits are pending. 
The Catholic Diocese of Columbus released the following statement Wednesday afternoon:

Personnel matters remain confidential by policy of the Diocese of Columbus and thus cannot be discussed in specific terms by diocesan staff, even cases that are working their way through grievance procedures and/or have gained significant publicity. However, what can be said in general terms is that all Catholic school personnel at the outset of their employment agree that they will abide by the rules, regulations, and policies of the Catholic Diocese, including respecting the moral values advanced by the teachings of Christ. The Catholic Church respects the fundamental dignity of all persons but also must insist that those in its employ respect the tenets of the Church. Personnel who choose to publicly espouse relationships or principles that are contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church cannot, ultimately, remain in the employ of the Church. - Source
Sad - for some - but true.

I can imagine Ms. Hale feels deeply hurt, betrayed and angry.  I had trouble when I first heard the story myself.  She's worked at the school 20 years - I'm sure students and teacher alike 'knew' or suspected she had a 'private' life.  Ms. Hale certainly would have known Church teaching - perhaps she even brought up the subject of job security in the past?  Or at least had a concern about it once or twice.  Maybe she was even told her situation was just fine?  Maybe she and her 'partner' lived together chastely, as close friends, companions, in a platonic relationship?  Who knows?

A Private Catholic School.

Nevertheless, the Archdiocese is in the right.  Her private life became public and turned into a source of scandal.  Her lifestyle now public, contradicts Church teaching.  She works in a Catholic school, which exists to form children in accord with Catholic teaching.  It is an unfortunate situation.

People who work for the Church need to abide by Church teaching and avoid giving scandal to 'little ones'.  It is a private, Catholic school, and there are rules.

However, I seriously doubt Ms. Hale had an agenda, since no one seemed to complain before this.  I suspect she was simply doing her job. 

So is the Archdiocese.

Once again I'll repeat my advice to ssa/gay people
  • To Catholics who identify as ssa or gay. Be faithful to Church teaching, live chastely. Pray very much. Don't look for approval.  

  • Be faithful and do good works, remaining hidden - not out of fear, but out of love for God. 

  • If you insist on identifying as gay or are ssa and/or share a house with some one, do not seek employment from the Church, avoid involvement in Church groups, councils, committees, and so on - that is if you want to avoid being kicked off or fired.  If you think you have a vocation - think again.

  •  A similar case involving a religion teacher, Nicholas Coppola, is back in the news again as well.  That story here.


    1. This one hits VERY close to home (literally). I talked about it here:

      "Live as if this maxim were true, and keep it in mind: Gay people have nothing to offer the Catholic Church."

      Nothing to offer, indeed. That's why I won't be wasting any more time with it.

      1. I agree with Terry here, and I like his compassion coupled with truth. I visited your page, Thom, and I disagree with you entirely. I think what may be missing is reference to scandal - and perhaps an adequate definition of it. What this woman did is no different than if a male teacher were publicly-known to cohabitate with a woman. In your post, you state that homosexuals should be able to live together without causing problems for the Church. You support this by taking a legalistic approach stating that unless we have clear evidence of sexual activity (a video or perhaps out in the street), we cannot say that partnered/cohabitating homosexuals is sinful or scandalous. Except, indeed it is. Here is why. A cohabitating couple - a couple who is heterosexual and identifies as "partners" is understood to be in a sexual relationship. Physical evidence, such as bodily fluids or something, is not needed to have moral certitude. It is even less needed to cause scandal, especially when done around children. Even males and females who are straight and living as "roommates" is enough to cause some scandal, even if they do not admit to sexual activity. Why? Well, because they are sexual beings placing themselves into temptation and giving others cause for believing sexual intimacy is occurring. The same is exactly true for homosexuals. Living together is an occasion for grave sin, and calling one a "partner" makes it abundantly clear. As far as moral certitude is concerned, they are living an immoral life - and this can be recognized sans sex toys and video evidence. It also causes grave scandal which is a big no-no in the Church as well. This is a teaching which reaches back to Christ.

        Thom, with all due respect, you seem to be far too wrapped up in the emotions of this case, and it has blinded you to the moral theology that explains why it is not okay.

        If the Church is okay with her living with another homosexual woman and calling her a "partner" then she must be okay with heterosexuals doing the exact same thing. We call it cohabitation, and it is a sinful and scandalous activity.

        The archdiocese is absolutely correct.

      2. Jericho, you've left out a very important aspect.

        Heterosexual people may marry with the blessing of the Church. Seemingly, apparently, homosexual people may not have anything close to companionship for fear of causing "scandal."

      3. Correct, Thom. According to Christ and His Church, sexual activity is reserved for - and the exclusive property of - a married man and woman. Period.

        Homosexual activity is as sinful as contraceptive activity and masturbation. In fact, the three things are essentially the same morally-speaking. They are acts which are closed to life (one of the requirements of authentic sexual activity). If the Church were to give a blessing to homosexual activity, she would be also blessing contraception and masturbation at the same time, since those activities are also purposely closed to life.

        But this is something that cannot change. We would all like to contracept or engage in masturbation and other forms of sex without the burden of sin or children, but the truth of the matter is that such things are ultimately destructive for us - both body and soul. We seek a consolation prize and lose eternity. Heck, homosexual activity and contraception makes many lose their temporal happiness as well. It might be hard for some of us. It is hard for me. But I have chosen to conform my body, mind and my life to the Church. You have seemingly chosen a different path. I warn you against it and to trust in Christ and His Body, the Church

        Christ never said following Him was easy. Look what happened to Him...but then again...look what happened to Him. The paradox of Christianity is extreme.

      4. I said "companionship," and you start talking about sex.

      5. Did you miss what I wrote, Thom? It is impossible not to cause scandal when two homosexuals or two unmarried heterosexuals live together and call each other "partners." It is also sinful. If you don't like it, you don't have to abide by it. But this is how we Catholics view reality.

        Can homosexuals have friends? Yes and they should. Can unmarried heterosexuals have friends? Yes, and they should. But when friends become "partners" and move in, it stops being a friendship and moves into intimacy. The Church sees it as an occasion for grave sin - but also a sin in and of itself - and a cause for grave scandal.

        Your "companionship" is nothing but cohabitation when "partners" who identify as such live together - cohabitate. Whether they are heterosexual or homosexual, it is scandalous and immoral.

        I guess I am not sure why you care so much, because no one is forcing you to accept this as true. We happen to. Why does that bother you so much?

        If I were forced to guess, I would say it has something to do with your conscience...

      6. Here in about two weeks, you're right-- it won't matter at all. You can think or say or do whatever you like, and it won't affect me.

        You've been talking in circles. When you compare two gay people who live together to two straight people who do, I point out that, unlike the gay couple, the straight ones can marry. The gay ones cannot live together because of "scandal." When I talk about companionship, you talk about sex.

        Really, you are just confirming the mind map that I laid out at my blog: gay people cannot be in relationships, live with anyone for companionship, and certainly not have sex. They must live alone-- so you aren't scandalized-- and they must die alone. Even though the Catechism doesn't talk about that.

        So, yes, you've just affirmed what I said.


      7. Thom said, "gay people cannot be in relationships"

        Friendships? Sure. Sexual relationships. No. That is the teaching of the Catholic Church.

        Thom said, "live with anyone for companionship"

        Homosexuals cannot "live with someone for companionship" in the manner that "partners" do. This goes for heterosexuals and homosexuals. "Partners" implies sexual intimacy. Even "roommates" of persons who are of opposite sex and heterosexual, or homosexuals, is an unwise and immoral temptation to sin and a source of scandal.

        Thom said, "and certainly not have sex."

        Again, this is in the Catechism and is the teaching of Jesus Christ - His Body the Church. Sex is reserved for a married man and woman. Period. Any sexual activity outside of that is not only gravely sinful, it is also destructive. The Church does not state this out of hatred or spite, but rather from what she has been given by God and through experience.

        Thom said, "they must live alone"

        I never said that and would not. In fact, the homosexuals I know that actually live Church teaching live with family or among friends. They do not share beds or apartments or houses with other homosexuals. They are never alone, and in fact several have said they see more people each day than heterosexual married couples.

        Thom said, "and they must die alone"

        Nope. The only one who said that is you. Again, you really need to separate your emotions from your argument, because it is getting irrational. You're beginning to see things that aren't there and to put words into my mouth which I did not speak.

        Thom said, "Even though the Catechism doesn't talk about that."

        And neither did I. What I did say is what the Church says. See the post above regarding authentic sexual activity.

        Again, I warn you as a friend in Christ. Believe it or not, I love you and because you know nothing about me and I know a bit about you, I can say that I am a worse sinner regarding this matter than you.

        It is possible to live out these teachings. It is not easy, but Christ never said it would be.

      8. I think that's a little unbalanced for you to be anonymous, and I not be-- but it's ok. I don't doubt that you have love.

        You're dancing around the issue here. What it seems to come down to is what OTHER people think about your life if you're gay-- not what you actually *do.* A gay person could be chaste, but if he has a male roommate and identifies that person as his partner- again, no sex- to you he's still "sinning," although that's not a part of the Catechism. He is "sinning" because you're "scandalized."

        For such a legalistic doctrine, one might think there would be less ambiguity in its interpretation.

        It's rather like that line from a SCOTUS case a few years ago:

        "What is pornography?"

        "I don't know, but I know it when I see it."

      9. (And as much as I've "enjoyed" it, I'm walking away from this conversation. I think I've said all I can. If you know me, I'd encourage you to contact me away from here. Peace.)

      10. Thom said " What it seems to come down to is what OTHER people think about your life if you're gay"

        Nope. That is only part of the issue. Again, you're downplaying an incredibly important aspect of Christ's teachings - scandal. It is a far bigger deal than I think you give it credit for. The other part is this: You have not bothered to refute my assertion that homosexual "partners" are no differently (morally speaking) than cohabitating heterosexuals. Both are immoral lifestyles - sin giving an occasion for graver sin. Partnering - in human terms - is ultimately about joining bodies as well as hearts and minds. This is what sexual intimacy is among a married man and his wife. The joining of bodies is something homosexuals cannot do. Can they have friendships - unions of hearts and minds? Yes, and so can unmarried heterosexuals. But "partnering" is a matter that involves bodies, otherwise it would remain mere friendship.

        Thom said, "not what you actually *do.*"

        Again, I mentioned "legalistic" before for a reason. Moral certitude does not require scientific evidence or certitude. It is sinful to live with a a person you call a "partner" whom you are not married to for it gives us all the certitude we need to recognize the relationship as immoral. This is something you are "doing." Video evidence of fornication is not needed for cohabitating couples to be considered "living an immoral lifestyle." The same holds true for homosexuals in the exact same situation.

        Thom said, " A gay person could be chaste, but if he has a male roommate and identifies that person as his partner- again, no sex"

        Two things wrong here. Number one, "partner" implies sexual intimacy and is a cause for scandal. Scandal is not something to sniff at (see above). I would hazard a guess that hardly anyone actually refers to a person they are living with as a "partner" who does not mean it in a sexual manner. Secondly, it is a massive occasion for sin. Homosexual activity is gravely sinful. Living with a homosexual you call a partner is something the Church would never recommend and would consider no different than a cohabitating couple. It is immoral in and of itself, even without video evidence. Again, this is how the Church approaches it. You are not forced to agree with her.

        Thom said. "- to you he's still "sinning," although that's not a part of the Catechism."

        Again, "partnering" implies cohabitation, which implies sexual intimacy. Otherwise, why wouldn't you refer to them as "friends" or "room mates"?

        Cohabitation is sinful according to the Catechism. You're being obtuse on purpose.

        Thom said, "sinning" because you're "scandalized."

        Not just me, but in this case families and children in particular. Again, Thom, if I were you and were interested in seeking the truth on the matter, I would brush up on Church teaching regarding scandal.

        Ultimately, as you implied, you seek Church approval of homosexual acts, which is impossible. There really is no other way I can say it.

        Those times when I am sinning, oh how nice would it be for the Church to say its okay. But then I would know she is nothing.

      11. Also, Thom, why the "scare quotes" on enjoying? If you're not enjoying an explanation of Church teaching on the matter, why bother with it? I think you are enjoying it in a way, for you're here and engaged in a wonderful conversation.

        At least, I think it is.

    2. Sorry Thom - I removed the maxim - I was discouraged when I wrote it.

      1. Nothing to apologize for-- you have to do what you think is right. I do, too.

      2. Please do not forget that our bodies and minds are not the only things that are fallen and clouded. Our consciences are too. That is why they must be formed properly by Church teaching. IF this is something you do not believe, it is difficult to call you a Catholic.

    3. Terry,

      I am a little confused by the third piece of advice. If someone is ssa and chaste (but does not openly identify as ssa), that person should avoid involvement in Church groups, councils, committees, ministries etc.? Please clarify. Thanks.

    4. Good post, Terry, thanks. Scandal is pretty serious or there wouldn't be a "millstone" attached to it. Those who want to publicly proclaim their mortally sinful behavior should not be surprised at the blowback.

    5. Gentillylace - I did explain:

      "•If you insist on identifying as gay or are ssa and/or share a house with some one..."

      Here it is:

      "that is if you want to avoid being kicked off or fired."

      Otherwise, go for it.

    6. Mary Ann - You are correct. It's an inconvenient truth.

    7. One of the things that makes it difficult for the Church regarding this matter is that, while her teaching is absolutely correct and true, it takes a book to explain it while those opposed can rely on soundbytes and slogans.

      You can see this at work above. It takes a paragraph to dissect and correct a falsehood that may only be three or four words in length.

      But Christ never said it would be...oh you know!

    8. Good comments Jericho. I would just add that ssa men and women may indeed live together as friends, remaining celibate and chaste of course - disinterested friends no doubt, helping one another to become holy. There are friends who've lived together for decades, who own property together and so on, they surely may share a house without condemnation.

      Divorced and remarried couples who have returned to the sacraments often live together as brother and sister. I know of several couples - they tend to be older, but in the age of viagra and hormone treatment, they abstain and live devout lives. The advice of a confessor and or spiritual director is always helpful.

      It can be done, despite what others think.

      1. OK, but do they publicly refer to each other as "partners?" If so, that is a source of scandal and indeed is sinful if "partners" means what it actually means.

        Am I wrong here? I don't think so but I am open to correction.

        I would say that in your scenarios above, those people likely make it public that they are not engaged in sexual activity if these same persons are working in the Church or for the Church. Otherwise the scandal such situations would cause would make the situation untenable. It would also make it seem like the Church is okay with placing vulnerable persons into occasions of sin.

    9. Terry and Thom, is the source of my difficulty here the use of the word "partners?" For me, "marriage" has only one meaning (1 man + 1 woman for life) and sexual intercourse has only one meaning (comprehensive and organic union of male and female bodies). Partners when used in the sense of this teacher and among heterosexuals implies cohabitation. In fact, partners in this sense is synonymous with "cohabitators" which is intrinsically linked to extra-marital or premarital sexual activity.

      If this woman has a roommate that was a good, non sexual friend, she would not identify her has a partner, for the word implies sexual intimacy. This friend would not even be mentioned in the obit. A friend is not a "partner" because the latter involves sexual intimacy, and once a friend becomes sexual, he or she becomes a "partner."

      Friends and roommates are not the problem and are not publicly declared like this particular teacher. Partners - implying intimate and sexual - are.

      Hence the immoral nature of the relationship and the source of scandal.

      1. And I should say that "for me" really means "for the Church" since I conform my views on this matter to hers.

    10. Please don't take offense that I disagree with you.

      However, I'm talking about two friends who live together - no sex, no romance, no voyeurism, no porn; chaste, celibate, friends. JUST friends - pick any term; BFF's, life-long friends, long-time friends, companions, buddies, partners, brothers, normal, ordinary friends.

      Like I said - if you are ssa, stay out of church-parish work - because there will always be someone scandalized if you simply raise a pinky in the wrong way.

      That said, using your reasoning, if two men can't live together chastely and celibately, then they better not go to a gym, use the showers or sauna, and they better make darn sure they never use a public rest room. Otherwise, as you point out, "It would also make it seem like the Church is okay with placing vulnerable persons into occasions of sin."

      Big smile :) -I'm just saying. But see what I mean? People have to get their head out of the gutter and quit stereotyping one another. There are good people out there and not all of them are crippled by their so-called sexual orientation. Some people actually get over it.

      Have faith.

      1. OK, I agree with you on this. But what of the use of the word "partner?" Does it or does it not imply a sexual partner? Is not saying that one is "married" imply sexual intimacy as well?

        It is frustrating because in the Church, these words have meaning. It is the fact that she has a "partner" and not a roommate or a friend that is the scandal. Not the fact that she is ssa. And when you get down to it, it should not be that she lives with another person, but rather that she lives with another person she calls a "partner."

        For the Church and indeed the secular world, saying someone is your "partner" is to say that you are having sexual relations with that person.

        Does this make sense?

      2. In other words, no one refers to a friend in the lockeroom as a "partner" unless he or she is engaging in sexual activity with them.

        I think this word, like the word marriage, is at the heart of this argument.

    11. And I conform my views with that of the Church as well - I hope that is obvious.

      1. Yeah, it is. I don't doubt that about you Terry. But Thom I do, since he seems to imply that he is opposed to Church teaching regarding marriage and sexuality.

        Terry, I have read you enough to know better. You are a far better Catholic than I.

    12. What I'm having trouble understanding is that she's suing after violating the terms of her employment; she freely signed the contract that held her to live in a manner consistent with Church teaching.

    13. Thanks Jericho - I get what you are saying. However, a former blog administrator always referred to his co-worker (he worked from home) as his partner - yep - I assumed... to my embarassment. So I personally do not construe terms that way - or at least I try not to. I'm not being disingenuous about that either.

      FYI - it's my understanding the obit did not reference her friend as a partner - her name was simply listed along with her own, albeit in parentheses. But that means nothing now that the woman has been outed and terminated.

      I do understand what you are saying, so yes, if two persons of the same sex publicly identify themselves as partners in the sexual sense, or in the sense of a 'couple', that would be scandalous.

      I'm signing off for the night.

      God bless!

      1. I allowed for the business sense to be separate - which I thought was clear - but perhaps it was more clear in my mind than in my writing.

        Of course.

        But that partnership is not what we were talking about. Marriage is used sometimes in science or when referring to the combination of material things or ideas (a "marriage" of blah and blah ideas). It is clear when partner means sexual and marriage means people.

        So I understand you on that!

        As for the reference, the parentheses means partner as in "spouse." So it is actually the same thing. No further information would have been required at that point. If she was not a spouse-like partner, there would have been no need to mention her, let alone use the parentheses which are used for spouses.

    14. Nan - I have a feeling she was told her private life situation made no more difference than her not being Catholic - or at least she assumed that.

      Cases such as these will continue to crop up.

    15. Thanks Jericho... err, partner. Cowboys used the same term, BTW. ;)

    16. One other comment - gay people have to stop hijacking the language.

    17. Terry, she signed the contract of her own free will so doesn't matter if she was told it wouldn't matter or if she believed it was just fine. Once it became public knowledge that her life was not in accord with Church teaching, there was cause for termination.

    18. There you go. Thanks Nan.


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