The Columbus Dispatch reports that a Catholic High School fired a physical education teacher last month after it became public knowledge that she is a lesbian who lives with her partner, in direct violation of Church teachings. Sadly, the teacher, Carla Hale, reacted by suing the Diocese of Columbus under the city’s anti-discrimination law, which does not provide an exemption for religious organizations and carries a penalty of up to 180 days in jail. There is a very real possibility then that Bishop Campbell could be sent to jail for upholding the Catholic faith.
There is also the possibility that this case could end up in the Supreme Court, as the unanimous decision in the Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC case specifically leaves open the possibility of subsequent litigation for breach of contract. However, one has to wonder whether a contract based on a 19-year lie could still be valid. The Dispatch article does not state whether the school knew Hale was a lesbian and perhaps had some informal agreement with her provided she kept it quiet, but if so, the concealment on Hale’s part would only be more damning. Neither the school nor the diocese should be punished for trying to right the situation.Bishop Campbell’s diocese is being sued for upholding Catholic teaching. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)
An analogous scenario would be a bank manager discovering that one of her employees has been robbing banks, or a police chief discovering that one of his officers has been dealing drugs on the side for the past 20 years. Carla Hale clearly opposes Catholic teaching, so how can she possibly be a Catholic teacher? The Catholic Church is often accused of hypocrisy, but what could be more hypocritical than allowing a teacher to publicly contradict the Catholic faith?
Catholic schools entrust their teachers with a special responsibility to provide spiritual formation and act as role models for their impressionable charges. Not so long ago, most if not all teachers at Catholic schools were consecrated religious. Carla Hale is not even Catholic, but is a practicing Methodist. There is nothing wrong with ecumenism, but faithful Catholic parents have every right to expect that teachers at a Catholic school should be faithful ministers of the Gospel and witnesses to Christ in both their public and private lives.
Nevertheless, Hale has found a deep well of vocal support from partisans on the left. At time of writing, an online petition for her reinstatement had over 10,000 signatures. In times of persecution, there is always an angry mob that thinks it is in the right. Popular opinion claims to be loudly and fiercely opposed to any form of intolerance as a matter of principle, but this apparently does not include intolerance of faithful Catholics.
The more we are persecuted, the more we must pray that Bishop Campbell, and indeed all of us will have the strength to bear the cross. As the motto of the Carthusian order reminds us, “Stat crux dum volvitur orbis.” The Cross is steady while the world is turning. We must hold fast to the cross, because the world around us is not going to stop. We must remember as the cross grows heavier, it is because we still believe we are standing on solid ground, when in truth, the cross is all that is solid and eternal.