Father Martin has done it again! On Twitter he takes the side of NYT journalist Frank Bruni who writes here about the case of a Catholic school employee who lost her job because she married her lesbian friend.
Bruni goes on and on in typical whiny fashion about how the church is picking on gay people and persecuting them for being gay. He comments on the hypocrisy of the number of gay priests and how Catholic schools don’t fire people for other sins like using contraceptives or not giving to the poor.
I wish Bruni were more frank. This is a shifty piece of work. It’s a propaganda piece. It’s a ploy Father Martin also uses and let’s be honest. It’s a lie, and not even a very clever one.
When a Catholic employee is fired for marrying their gay friend they are not being fired for being gay. They’re being fired because they have publicly, objectively, legally and permanently taken an action which goes against church teachings, and they have signed a contract that they would abide by and uphold church teachings.
To be sure, there are plenty of Catholic employees who fail in their attempts to live by church teachings. In fact every Catholic (except saints) fails to observe all church teachings. We’re all failures and hypocrites. Catholic employees commit adultery, eat and drink too much, are greedy, fornicate, lose their tempers, get pregnant outside of marriage–you name it.
But here is the essential distinction: no matter what the sin, one is able to repent and reform. It is still possible for a murderer to live by the teachings of the Catholic Church if they repent, do reparation and seek to be reformed by God’s grace.
It is not being gay or even living as a gay person that causes a Catholic employee to be fired. That is because even when a gay person is living with their boyfriend or girlfriend they may still be reformed or live within the church’s teachings, and when one is in that situation, Catholics (in my experience) are tolerant, accepting and non judgmental. Are there some who are mean, nasty and cruel? Of course there are. We have Westboro Catholics, and all right thinking Catholics dismiss them.
But when a person marries outside the church they have publicly and permanently, formally and legally repudiated the teachings of the Catholic faith. In other words, they have publicly, formally and legally denied their Catholic faith and solemnly sworn in public that very fact. This means they have also publicly, formally and legally broken their employment contract.
If Bruni wanted to find an equal case to compare he would ask a more interesting question –“If a Catholic employee were to formally become a Muslim would he or she be fired?” That would be equivalent because that person would be formally, publicly and permanently repudiating their Catholic faith.
Would such a person lose their job? The question is pointless because if they were really committed to their new Muslim faith they would be honest and quit teaching at a Catholic school. Why is it wrong to expect others who formally, publicly and permanently repudiate their Catholic faith to do the same?
Is it only gay people who are treated thus? No. I worked in a Catholic school where two employees–a man and a woman– became romantically involved. This contributed to the breakdown of a marriage. The two employees wished to marry. The school authorities pointed out that this would mean they were breaking their contract. The Catholic church does not permit re-marriage after divorce. Their marriage would scandalize the community and affect their students and the witness of the school.
The employees responded in a dignified and respectful way. They refrained from being seen together in public and they resigned. Furthermore, they waited to get married until their decree of nullity was approved.
Why does the act of marrying outside the church put one outside the church? Because marriage is a sacrament and you can’t just “do” a sacrament however and whenever you wish according to your own desires. You can no more marry outside the church than you can set up an altar, put on vestments and celebrate Mass if you’re not a priest. Any kind of marriage outside the church’s regulations is therefore a profanation of a sacrament.
It is excusable that a hack for the New York Times may not understand this distinction, but the highly intelligent Vatican media spokesman Father James Martin surely understands the distinction. If he does not then he has been poorly educated, should step down from his media darling role and go back to school. If he does understand the distinction he should stop being so deceitful. He should speak the truth and teach the faith as he is called to do and not pander to his posh friends in the Big Apple.