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Indianapolis School Fires Gay Teacher To Keep Calling Itself Catholic

By Eric Weddle, IPB News | Published on in Education, Faith and Religion, Family Issues
Cathedral was founded in 1918, it is on the city's northeast.
Cathedral was founded in 1918, it is on the city's northeast side.

Less than a week after the Archdiocese of Indianapolis split with a Catholic high school because it refused to fire a gay teacher, another city high school says it let go a gay teacher so it can remain in the diocese.

Leaders of Cathedral High School announced Sunday they terminated a teacher’s contract because the teacher is in a same-sex marriage.

In a public letter, Cathedral’s board Chairman Matt Cohoat and President Rob Bridges says it was “an agonizing decision” that came after nearly two years of back-and-forth with the Archdiocese and Indianapolis Archbishop Charles Thompson.

But if the teacher was not terminated, Cathedral leaders say the Archdiocese would no longer recognize the school. That would cause Cathedral to lose its non-profit status, be prohibited from holding some religious services, and it would no longer be recognized as a Catholic school by the Archdiocese.

“Therefore, in order to remain a Catholic Holy Cross School, Cathedral must follow the direct guidance given to us by Archbishop Thompson and separate from the teacher,” leaders write.

The Archdiocese could not immediately be reached for comment. Previously, it said teachers, guidance counselors and administrators are “recognized as ministers — and ministers in their professional and private lives must follow Catholic Church teachings.”

The Catholic Chruch does not recognize same-sex marriage.

Last week the Archdiocese of Indianapolis cut ties with Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School because leaders refused to fire a married gay teacher. School leaders say it’s unprecedented for the Archdiocese to attempt to dictate who works at the school because of its independence and self-governance.

Cathedral has a different relationship to the Archdiocese than Brebeuf, say Cohoat and President Rob Bridges. The school is affilated with Brothers of Holy Cross and the bylaws state “the essential Holy Cross character of Cathedral as a Catholic high school shall be at all times maintained.”

Cathedral was founded in 1918 and was incorporated to be a Roman Catholic secondary school in 1972. The northwest school is rated A for academics by the state education department. This past school year it enrolled nearly 1,100 students in grades 9-12.

Last year, Cathedral received $1,136,259 in state funds from school vouchers, which allow some parents to apply public school dollars toward private school tuition.

The Archdiocese’s request to Cathedral and Brebeuf comes more than a year after another one of its schools, Roncalli High School, did not renew a counselor’s contract because of her marriage to a woman. A second Roncalli counselor has since said she also lost her job because of her same-sex relationship.

Contact WFYI education reporter Eric Weddle at eweddle@wfyi.org or call (317) 614-0470. Follow on Twitter: @ericweddle.