Of Parents and Pinheads — The Boulder Catholic School Saga

Ever since the staff at Sacred Heart of Jesus School in Boulder, CO informed a lesbian pair that they would not be allowed to re-enroll their preschooler and kindergartner following the 2010-2011 academic year, secular voices from all over the national media have been weighing in with an opinion.

Most were so predictable that they barely merit our attention, as in the case of the ABC henhouse talk show The View.

Other critical media voices, however, like that of Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, deserve some closer inspection. Why? Well, not so much because he has any more depth of insight than Whoopi Goldberg, but mainly because O’Reilly delights in telling his audience that he is a “Roman Catholic who went to Catholic schools throughout” and so the potential for viewer confusion is substantially higher.

During an on-air exchange with Fox contributor Fr. Jonathan Morris shortly after the Boulder story broke, O’Reilly jumped right out of the gate with misinformation when he said that the school had “expelled a preschooler and a kindergartner.” Though this was no doubt an inadvertent mistake on his part, it demands a correction.

The children were not “expelled” at all; their lesbian guardians were given considerable advance warning of their ineligibility beginning in academic year 2011-2012; i.e., this is hardly a case of “expulsion.” With this detail clarified, now let’s take a look at the crux of O’Reilly’s position.

“As a Roman Catholic myself, that seems a bit harsh. I don’t know if Jesus would have made the same call. Kids have no power over who their parents are,” he began.

After Fr. Morris attempted to bring his interlocutor’s attention to the real issue — that of Catholic identity — O’Reilly, like so many liberals who have squirmed under his laser sharp interrogations over the years — remained fixated on the mantra, “it’s for the children.”

“The Church believes that homosexual conduct is immoral,” O’Reilly went on, “but the children don’t participate in any of that, so you’re punishing the children… I don’t want to see the children punished, and I would submit to you that Jesus wouldn’t either.”

O’Reilly has it right when he says that “the children are blameless and they are the ones who are suffering,” but what he fails to recognize is that this is happening not at the hands of the school, but at the hands of their lesbian guardians.

It is true that children do not chose their parents, but it is just as true that parents do in fact chose who they are through the life that they live. In the present case, the guardians have chosen to live in such way as to set themselves over and against the very faith they claim to embrace.

If one accepts what the Church teaches regarding homosexuality — as any good Roman Catholic who has proudly gone to Catholic schools throughout presumably does — then the question of what it means to approach this matter “for the children” isn’t nearly as simple as embracing the false inclusiveness that Mr. O’Reilly seems to espouse.

In addressing the controversy, Denver’s Archbishop Chaput referenced the Second Vatican Council saying, “Our schools are meant to be ‘partners in faith’ with parents.  If parents don’t respect the beliefs of the Church, or live in a manner that openly rejects those beliefs, then partnering with those parents becomes very difficult, if not impossible” (cf Decree on Christian Education – 8).

One of the difficulties in the Boulder situation is that the Archdiocese doesn’t posses a silver bullet that is capable of sparing these children from harm; this being the case since the very atmosphere in which they are being raised (where the gay agenda is embraced) is the primary cause.

To simply enroll the children in Sacred Heart School is to anoint their guardians as “partners in faith” in spite of their domestic situation. Not only will this fail to alleviate the actual cause of the children’s distress, it will only serve to confuse them later in life when at the age of reason they deserve to have clarity.

They will need to know, in time, that the Church stands for an objective truth that their guardians (as yet) and others are unwilling to embrace, and it is only in taking a stand in the current situation that the Church can contribute to the children’s overall well being. In so doing, the Archdiocese is sending an equally clear message to the world at large; a world that is obviously paying attention.

As Fr. Morris said, this issue is bigger than just one school and two children; it’s truly a matter of Catholic identity that impacts all of us.

Keeping these unfortunate children enrolled in a Catholic school “places unfair stress on the children who find themselves caught in the middle, and on their teachers, who have an obligation to teach the authentic faith of the Church,” Archbishop Chaput wisely pointed out.

Don’t gloss over his point; it’s critically important. Yes, Jesus did say that His word will cause “children to rise against parents” (Mt. 10:21) but no one, probably not even O’Reilly and the cast of The View, believes that it’s good for children of this age to be placed at the center of a tug-of-war between proponents of the gay lifestyle and the doctrine of the Church. Now let’s be clear about who is willing to place them there; it’s the lesbian guardians and their defenders.

In a less-than-surprising turn, O’Reilly then played the well-worn “we’re all sinners” card.

“What if there is a divorced Catholic and the person remarries outside the church. What if [heterosexuals] are living in sin, are you going to kick their kids out? What if they commit a flagrant act of adultery…?”

You see where he is going. If you disqualify one child because they’re being raised by sinners, you have to disqualify them all, so the argument goes.

Uh, no, we do not; no more than we need to treat jaywalkers like bank robbers.  Clearly, not all sins are equally grave, or equally public, or equally scandalous. They are, therefore, treated individually in the most prudent way possible.

As Fr. Morris acknowledged, O’Reilly does raise a very important question and he went on to answer it saying, “Once those parents become, not only sinners as we’re all sinners, but very serious public dissenters from fundamental teachings of the Church, they can no longer be considered partners in Catholic education.”

“Wait a minute,” O’Reilly interrupted. “This lesbian couple doesn’t do anything publically; they’re not demonstrating. As far as I know the couple just is quiet, they don’t do anything, they got branded this and they got booted out.”

Once again, Mr. Bill isn’t letting the facts get in the way of a good argument, as the pair issued a public statement that tells a very different story.

“We had been open about our family situation from the start, and had always felt welcomed by parents and teachers,” they said.

Clearly, “just is quiet” doesn’t exactly describe these two. They are very openly living in public opposition to Church teaching. They know it, and so does the parish community.

“We have a good understanding of the Church’s position on gay and lesbian people,” the statement asserts, assuring all that they know exactly what they are rejecting.

“We never intended consciously for our family to be active gay rights advocates, but by living happy, successful lives it appears that is what we have become.”

I for one accept what this says; the guardians never “consciously” set out to be gay rights advocates, but the simple truth is that activists come in all shapes and sizes, and sometimes they advocate very powerfully through the life that they live and nothing more.

As Catholics, we believe that our “first and most important obligation for the spread of the Faith is to lead a profoundly Christian life” (Ad Gentes – 36).

In the present case we know, “Authentic conjugal love will be more highly prized, and wholesome public opinion created about it, if Christian couples give outstanding witness to faithfulness and harmony in their love, and to their concern for educating their children also, if they do their part in bringing about the needed cultural, psychological and social renewal on behalf of marriage and the family” (Gaudium et Spes – 49).

That is, marriage and family as the Church defines it.

In other words, we evangelize the world not just through rallies and parades and billboards, but in the way that we live our lives. This lesbian pair — whether or not they prefer to imagine they are simply blending in — is making an undeniably bold statement in opposition to the Church through their chosen lifestyle. And the truth is — they know it.

“We will continue to raise our children with strong Catholic values and hold faith that through our actions, we are doing our part to create a more loving, inclusive world,” the statement concluded.

Allow me to translate: “We will define ‘Catholic values’ as we see fit, and in the process we will teach the Church a thing or two about what it means to be loving and inclusive.”

So don’t tell me these women are not activists, Mr. O’Reilly, and please, from here on out, next time you feel the need to define what loving and inclusive means to you, stop prefacing your heterodox views by proclaiming your Roman Catholic credentials. Doing so only makes you a pinhead.

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  • smillerone

    Louie,

    Are persons who remarry after divorce not advocating against Church teaching as well? Most I have conversed with believe this.

    I don’t like this situation either, but we must honestly ask ourselves if we are not being inconsistent and simply acting out our personal repulsion to this particular sin.

    Maybe the better, more consistent policy for the school is to say “the child of anyone who is living in open violation and/or opposition to Church teaching affecting proper Catholic identity cannot attend. That could become messy to enforce, but at least it’s consistent and not discriminating by type of grave sin.

    But then one is left to ask if we should be dining with the children of sinners or not.

    Finally, are their tiers of “grave sin”? How do you know that homosexual acts are more grave than other serious sexual offenses? I’m not referring to venial vs. mortal sins since we are talking about grave sins. Where does the Church teach this? What are the consequences in the afterlife for one vs. the other?

  • http://www.catholicexchange.com Mary Kochan

    smillerone, please do not take this personally, but with all sincerity, I simply find myself in a state of dismay that anyone, especially a Christian and especially a Catholic, could ask the questions you are asking. I find myself dismayed because I realize that your questions would most likely be echoed by thousands, if not millions of Catholics, and the task of education seems so daunting. But, well, that is why CE exists, really.

    Let me deal with your last question first, the one about the afterlife. Please understand that the objective gravity of sin is not the criteria of God’s judgment. We might call it criteria of God’s hatred of the sin. But God hates the sin because he loves the sinners and he hates the damage the sin does to them. There are many factors unavailable to us as humans that go into God’s judgment of any particular person. He knows every single cell, every moment of life from conception, every inclination of the heart, every wound of the emotions. The Church teaches that homosexual inclinations are a great trial for those who have them. We may see some of the sins they commit but we never see the temptations overcome, the evil inclinations wrestled with — God does. For that reason, your last question is simply out of bounds for you are asking what is in the purview of God and not man.

    Now your other question is very different: “How do you know that homosexual acts are more grave than other serious sexual offenses?” I am almost tempted to rhetorically say, “let me count the ways” or ask, “how could we NOT know?” for it is very specially with regard to this that the Apostle said the law is written in our hearts. It is contrary to nature! How could the obviousness of it be any more blatant? Homosexuals commit unnatural acts. Fornication between a man and woman and adultery between a man and a woman are not unnatural. They are wrong, especially the adultery because it violates a vow on top of the sexual sin, but they are not unnatural. The sinning couple are using their male and female bodies according to the design God gave them. They are engaging in acts which — although they may be preventing it in some way — CAN lead to the creation of life. The Church puts it that the acts “are ordered” to the creation of life. Homosexual acts are not! The acts in which they engage are perversions. The Church teaches it this way: “THEY ARE INTRINSICALLY DISORDERED.” That means they cannot ever be correctly ordered. There is no setting in which they could ever be right.

    Let’s say that a man and woman live together and have children together, but they are not married. They can get married AND continue having sex in the same way they were. A man who leaves his wife and takes up with another woman may become free to marry her if his first wife dies. AND they can continue to have sex as they were. The acts in which they were engaged were illegitimate, but NOT intrinsically disordered.

    So yes, WE DO KNOW that homosexual acts are more grave than other serious sexual offenses. Nature itself demonstrates this; reason perceives this; the Bible teaches this; the Church teaches this. It is one of those things that we can’t not know because it is written on the human heart by God. That, btw, is where the “personal repulsion,” as you call it, comes from! God expects us to act on it!

  • wgsullivan

    Thanks, Mary, for clarifying the sound teaching of Christ’s one true Church. How wonderful it is to know it is guided by God through man and protected from error.

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