Holy Ghost Prep Alum Responds to the Firing of Gay Teacher Michael Griffin

Why I don’t give money to the church.

Photo | Shutterstock.com

Photo | Shutterstock.com

I have a lot of memories from high school. One that sticks out is the gay mime.

Okay, they didn’t actually bring  a gay mime into my high school. But, during my sophomore year Sex & Dating class, we watched a video. In it, several mime artists acted out a scene at a party; at the end of it, two of them bump into each other and the one drops a magazine called Gay Monthly. He ran away in shock. (Yes, he actually mimed shock as he ran away.)

I remember we clowned on it — and, by that, I mean the presentation. Was there really a magazine targeted for gays with the incredibly on-the-nose title of Gay Monthly? Why would you carry it around if you were afraid of being outed? And why did my teacher feel the need to show us this scene with mimes?

What I don’t remember doing (though I’m sure it happened among some of us) was making fun of gay people. The video’s point — unless these people were really bad mimes — was to tell us to not treat gay people any differently. I thought it lined up with how my high school usually acted: Accepting of all.

I never really fit in anywhere until I went to there. In grade school I was a huge dork who stuttered. I was a poser desperate to do whatever it took to fit in. I had bad teeth and terrible acne (and I wasn’t allowed to get Accutane). I wasn’t an outcast. I had friends, but looking back at it I never really felt I could act like myself.

Most of these problems carried over into high school (though I did get braces). Maybe it was just growing up. But I felt like my high school fostered an environment where I could be myself. Sure, sometimes this made me an asshole: I was a wise-ass who was enough of a goodie-goodie to skirt out of trouble most of the time. I liked high school way more than college. But my high school years allowed me to begin to grow into the person I am today. It felt accepting in all ways.

I thought. I went to Holy Ghost Prep, which has been all over the news recently for firing a teacher for being gay. I didn’t know Michael Griffin — he was a 1996 graduate of the school who returned to teach in 2001, and I graduated in 2000 — but by accounts from his students he was a well-liked teacher. News of his firing, which first spread Friday among alumni and students, shocked me a little.

In addition to miming us into tolerance, Holy Ghost went even farther. My sophomore year a speaker with AIDS — who told us he got it from sexual contact — came in to tell us to be tolerant of people with the disease. That Sex & Dating class, hilariously, was taught by an Irish priest. A priest! But he was a Sex & Dating teacher that didn’t even lie when he presented us with the accurate failure rates for birth control. (We looked them up on the Internet.) I’m sure it wasn’t intended this way, but most of us took “You’re only allowed to use the rhythm method in marriage” with a big 1990s wink.

When I talked to kids from other schools about their experience, I thought Holy Ghost sounded pretty progressive for Catholics. (And maybe we just had a lot of offbeat presentations; our most notable anti-drug speakers were Big “Do Hugs Not Drugs” Al and these three guys who told us if we did drugs we wouldn’t be allowed in Canada.)

But, of course, as a straight white man — who didn’t even have long hippie hair then, as required by school rules — I never really had to think about fitting in. Pretty much 90 percent of my graduating class was upper-middle class white dudes. The only openly gay people I knew went to public school. The school encouraged us to be ourselves, but only to a point. All my good high school friends were straight. I never really thought about what the church was saying when — as we also learned in our Sex & Dating class — it told  us that having gay feelings was okay but acting on them was a sin that could doom you to hell.

Father James McCloskey — the headmaster of the school when I was there, too — says he fired Griffin when he told the school he applied for a marriage license. The school was happy to have him when it could pretend he wasn’t gay, though Griffin says he and his future-husband sat with the school’s president, Jeff Danilak, at a school event. But as soon as it felt it received an official notification, McCloskey said he needed to act. Please. If our Catholic institutions have shown us anything over the past 2,000 years, it’s that they’re all about hushing things up. (Also, that their idea of  “bread” leaves a lot to be desired.) What McCloskey has done is tell gay students and alums that you’re welcome in the community as long as you don’t ask for the same rights as straight people. What bullshit.

Most of the alums I know are pretty angry at the school, but here’s the rub: Holy Ghost is a school also partly designed to send students off to good colleges. I know I went there because it was about five minutes from my house likely to increase my chances of getting into Penn, where I wanted to go even as an obnoxious teenager. And in the real world Holy Ghost grads come into contact with openly gay people and they realize how ridiculous the church’s position is. Sending kids to elite liberal arts colleges makes them more liberal, and it makes them less likely to agree with the Catholic Church’s teaching on gays. And this is going to be a problem at any Catholic high school. Get these kids ready for college and watch them repudiate many of the values you taught them!




I have fond memories of Holy Ghost Prep. But I'm not religious anymore, and I'm embarrassed to be associated with a school that treats people like it treated Michael Griffin. The school and church are free to do what they wish to. But I think the school is finding the students it helped create don't agree with its stance on gays. Many have said they are not donating anymore. I don't think I will be, either.

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  • Sam

    See, here’s where I disagree with you. You want the Catholic Church to change, but you want to withhold money and run away instead of being part of the change. If the only people that are left are the ones who want to preserve straight-only marriage, then you’ve done the church and the many people like Mike Griffin an incredible disservice.

  • Sam

    (I say this as someone in support of gay marriage)

  • Enuf already

    I don’t get the argument/discussion period. God made us correct? As long as like any other “group” they don’t expect more rights, special rights than any of us, sei la vie.

  • Mike

    I went to Holy Ghost Prep. I sat in the same class and saw the same video as the author of this post, albeit a year or two later. I also have find memories of the school and everything it taught me. One of those crucial lessons was standing up for truth and remaining firm to principles, even when it flies in the face of “common thought” or “social norms.”
    The reporting of this story has disgusted me since day one. Michael Griffin was fired for being gay – I was a student when he was first hired and there wasn’t anyone who didn’t know Mr. Griffin’s sexual orientation. His private life, however, wasn’t an issue for anyone – student, staff, alumni, or otherwise – because “being gay” isn’t a sin. the Catholic Church doesn’t say that a gay person should be ostracized, ridiculed, mocked, derided, or shunned for any reason. As a practicing Catholic, I believe in the message that has come from the Vatican from each of the last three popes, preaching acceptance and love of the PERSON, regardless of the individual’s sexual preference.
    Mr. Griffin was fired, conversely, because he chose to apply for a same-sex marriage license, which IS against Catholic Church teaching. What’s worse, he was informed that he would be terminated as a result of his decision and given a chance to change his mind – and he told them he was going to do it anyway! To me, this almost sounds like someone looking to make a stand, rather than work within the structure of the institution at which he was employed. If I, in my current line of work, were to sign a contract stipulating that I follow a certain set of established guidelines and then knowingly chose to disregard one of those parameters, I, too, would wind up exactly as Mr. Griffin is right now – unemployed. Whether you, Dan, or anyone else agrees with the Church’s stance on gay marriage, what’s not up for debate is that Mr. Griffin violated the tennants of his agreement and was terminated. That Holy Ghost chose not to cave to peer pressure and stood by the teachings of the religion of which it is a part is more that can be said for so many “Catholic” high schools and colleges that have had pro-choice commencement speakers, gay pride rallies, and other events that completely contradict the fundamental truths espoused by the Church.
    I am proud of my high school. I’m not proud because the fired a gay teacher – he and anyone else that happens to be gay should be treated with the same dignity and respect as every other human being, and any gay teacher at Holy Ghost Prep should be allowed to remain employed by the school as long as they maintain adherance to the teachings of the Catholic Church. I’m proud because my alma mater spent four years instilling in me the importance of doing what is right, regardless of how popular the decision may be, and when they were faced with just such a decision, they practiced what they preached. You can keep you money, Dan. I’ll cover you.

    • Neil Cameron

      1) Applying for a marriage licence is not an act of making a stand, even when a Church with an alleged billion followers is trying to blackmail you into not doing it.

      In the face of blackmail or extortion there is only one simple rule to stick to: do not let your decision be ruled by the blackmail or extortion. Don’t yield to it, and don’t let it motivate you to not yield to it.
      Render the blackmail irrelevant and move according to your conscience.

      By threatening expulsion unless he complies, the school is blackmailing him into compliance. Blackmail is a sin.
      The school itself is in breach of church teaching.

      2) The church may regard homosexuality itself as no problem, but it does regard same sex relationships as contrary to church teaching irrespective of the existence or lack thereof of a civil marriage licence. By including a “morality clause” in the contract, the school was giving itself a legally binding obligation to enforce church doctrine, and was making a public declaration of it being the enforcer of doctrine among the staff..
      Having been in a same sex relationship the entire time, he had been in breach of church teaching to the full knowledge of the school for the entire duration of his employment. Not having enforced church teaching over the entire period means the school itself had been in breach of the contract.
      Worse is the fact that the school, as self proclaimed enforcer of church teaching, had not done what it claimed it was doing: enforcing church teaching. for 12 years continuously. The school had lied about being the enforcer of church doctrine when it had not actually been enforcing it.
      Breaching that commandment puts the school itself again in breach of church teaching.

      3) The application for a marriage licence simply altered a detail of the nature of his existing breach. The alteration in the nature of the breach did not change which of the commandments he was breaching.

      His marriage does not change the church. His marriage does not force the churches hand. His marriage does not damage the church or the school in any way any more than his relationship did.
      The schools reaction to it however is another matter. It clearly communicates to the world that the Church will tolerate a sinful same sex relationship, but it will not tolerate a sinful same sex marriage.

      The church is playing politics on a topical political issue.
      The business of the church is not politics. It is a church.
      When churches descend to only enforcing issues of current political debate, instead of enforcing their full ideology they stop being churches. The church has allowed itself to be led by the activities in the political arena.

      If the church is following the battle between the gladiators in the ring then it is not following what it should be following.
      It was supposed to render unto Caesar that which is Caesars. That is what it claims is right. It did not do that. The school is again itself in breach of the churches teachings.

      4) By not enforcing church doctrine when his relationship was not on record or legally formalized, and then enforcing church doctrine once the relationship became a matter of public record, the church has sent out a clear message to the world:

      Make a public declaration of your sin and we will punish you. Hide the truth and lie and we will not punish you, be honest and open and we will punish you.
      The message of the church in this case actually alters the meaning of “The truth will set you free” into a message of “honesty will get you cast out of the church”.

      The church now advocates Lies, and motivates people to lie. If they don’t lie, they will be cast out.
      Supporting sin is sin.
      The school itself is AGAIN in breach of church teaching.

      If the teacher can be cast out for breaching church teaching, then surely the school should be cast out for the same “crime”.
      Nobody is free of sin. There is a reason for “Judge not lest ye be judged”.
      This case highlights it.

      And again the church descends into the quagmire of hypocrisy, breaching its own teachings.

      • Alec Leamas

        Blackmail. I don’t think it means what you think it means.

        Get thee to a publisher of Dictionaries.

    • hokieduck

      I wonder: Were there any teachers at Holy Ghost who were divorced? Were there any teachers at Holy Ghost who lived with a member of the opposite sex but were not married? Were there any teachers at Holy Ghost who liked to go out for a shrimp cocktail or a pulled pork sandwich on occasion? Were there any teachers at Holy Ghost who liked to wear Nike Storm Fit or other mixed fabric clothing? Were there any teachers at Holy Ghost whose brothers died but whom did not go and impregnate their brother’s widow?

      I could go on and on.

      You see, that is one of my biggest gripes with those who say acting on homosexual desires “contradict(s) the fundamental truths espoused by the Church.” The Church conveniently cherry picks which of the moralistic and/or nonsensical prohibitions to call anathema.

      Holy Ghost has every right to wrap itself in the robes of a piety when discharging qualified, dedicated teachers for loving and wanting to consecrate that love, but it does so with a full helping of hypocrisy that its alumni have every right to refuse to financially support in return.

      When is it that the church will finally realize and stand up for THE most timeless and irrefutable tenet of the Bible.

      God is love… in whatever form love takes.

      • Alec Leamas

        If I love my friend’s wife, is that God?

        When THE LORD smites two cities for wearing mixed fabrics or enjoying shrimp cocktail, and turns anyone who looks upon it to a pillar of salt, get back to me with your “argument.” Until then, I’ll take it as advice for avoiding chafing and gout.

        Also, the Church founds its beliefs on revelation and reason and has done so since at least the 1200s. There is a correlative belief, aligned with but independent of revelation and based in reason, that homosexuality is an inherently disordered act.

    • Marco Luxe

      Mike, I don’t think you’re right on Catholic doctrine when you claim: “Mr Griffin was fired… because he chose to apply for a same-sex marriage license, which IS against Catholic Church teaching.”

      Catholic doctrine doesn’t recognize any non-Catholic non-sacramental marriages. They are a nullity. Thus, although impractical, all teachers at HGP married outside the RCC are adulterers. Thus, for consistency, HGP must fire all coupled teachers not married in the Church.

      I also think you’re wrong on the facts. Mr. Griffin was in a legal civil union before applying for a NJ civil marriage license, yet remained employed. He had a commitment ceremony and the pair wore wedding rings, yet none o this was enough to create a firing situation. What is the difference between a NJ civil union and a NJ civil marriage in the eyes of HGP? [The state claimed there is no difference, common sense tells us one status is inferior. Is the inferior status, though still public, enough for HGP to let is slide? Doesn’t sound very principled to me.]

      Time to review the RCC Catechism on the topic. 2358 “[Homosexuals] must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. EVERY SIGN OF UNJUST DISCRIMINATION IN THEIR REGARD SHOULD BE AVOIDED. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives.”

      Seems like HGP decided to express a very clear sign of unjust discrimination in an act void of respect, compassion and sensitivity,. Therefore, HGP is the one breaching the terms of the contract.

  • Jerry

    You only heard part of the story. Every employee of HGP signs an agreement to support the religious teachings of the school as well as to provide a role model image (character and lifestyle) for the students who attend there. Being a member/follower of the religion is not a requirement. It would be extremely contradictory for the school to continue to employ anyone who would participate in public actions which would be contrary to the basic principles of the school’s code and moral teachings as well as provide a model which would be in contradiction to those teachings. As the article recalls the teaching, it’s not problematic to have gay feelings, but it is a problem when you act on them and you are a teacher and role model at a Catholic school for boys.

    • Tim

      And yet, somehow yet they continue to employ “openly” divorced teachers, which is just as “contrary to the basic principles of the school’s code.” It’s a frace.

      • Tim

        “Frace” is italian for “farce”

        • Alec Leamas

          “Tim” is English for “ignoramus.”

          • Holly

            Then Alec must be English for mean spirited.

          • Alec Leamas

            I’ll take that.

      • Alec Leamas

        What is the source of your knowledge of this “fact?” Are the teachers remarried? Have they been granted annulments?

        Details, I know, but don’t let them get in the way of your h8.

        • HGP Alumnus

          It’s common knowledge that a certain athletic director cheated on his wife, got divorced, and then remarried.

          • Alec Leamas

            That’s a wonderful argument in favor of firing him. Not such a great argument in favor of keeping Griffin on after his “marriage.”

    • Neil Cameron

      Then why did the principal not carry out his / her obligation to enforce the agreement as soon as it was known that the teacher was in a same sex relationship? Same sex relationships are against church teaching. The contract was only enforced after 12 years of same sex relationship was becoming a same sex marriage. For 12 years the principal was not enforcing it. The principal had failed to carry out his / her legally binding contractual duty.

      By not enforcing it and knowing about the relationship, the principal was supporting the sin (& the breach of church teaching). Supporting sin IS sin. So the principal was also in breach of church teaching. The principal is in breach of his / her own agreement.

      • Jerry Poore

        Neil,
        There’s nothing sinful about a male having other male friends. The principal (and anyone else who knew/knows the teacher) could have had suspicions regarding the level of relationship the teacher had with his male friends, but had no real basis for determining it to be a sexual (and in the churches eyes, sinful) relationship. Any actions, to terminate previously, would have been baseless/without merit. The principal did not act until the teacher exposed the level of his relationship in a public manner, effectively forcing the hand of the principal to take action.

        Employment contracts which restrict employee actions (even on employee time) are not new. For instance, federal employees sign a contract which prevents them from engaging in partisan political campaigning during elections. In both the school’s contract and the federal employee contract, the restricted action is not unlawful. Both restrictions are meant to convey a consistent standard of ethics and conduct.

        • Stu Gotz

          Good post

        • Marco Luxe

          See Fact above: Mr. Griffin entered a legal civil union with his spouse five years ago, yet wasn’t fired. The couple wore wedding rings and attended school functions as a couple.

          Your claim that the school had no real basis for determining it to be a sexual (and in the churches eyes, sinful) relationship, is false. Thus you must conclude HGP acted with hypocrisy.

      • Marco Luxe

        Fact: Mr. Griffin was in a registered civil union for five years prior to his application for a NJ civil marriage license. Thus the school’s actions are teaching that a civil union is acceptable to the school’s Catholic doctrine, but that civil marriage isn’t.

        I doubt very much that the school is teaching Catholic doctrine at all.

        • Alec Leamas

          Fact: There is no evidence of record that Griffin declared this fact to the administration, only Griffin’s statement that other faculty sympathetic to his cause attended his “commitment ceremony.” It is ridiculous to propose that a “registered civil union” in another state is constructive knowledge of his lifestyle. There is, however, evidence (Griffin’s own words) that he announced his intention to seek a marriage license with another man by email to the school administration.

          • Neil Cameron

            A NJ Civil Union is a matter of public record in NJ. The church had access to that public record. It being in the record is evidence enough that it was made available to them.
            They “legally” knew.
            The wedding rings provided a blatant clue for everyone to observe every day at the school.
            If other faculty staff attended, then they were in support of and witness to his breach. They supported it by attending AND by keeping quiet about it.
            Supporting sin is sin. They are in breach of church teachings and so in breach of their own agreements.

            What other state are you referring to? It was in the same state.

          • Alec Leamas

            I don’t really know why I’m responding to you as a review of your Disquis history reveals that you are a professional homosexual griefer who flies in and responds to every situation involving anything gay anywhere, with particular vitriol directed to the Catholic Church. I don’t really think that your ridiculous comments and byzantine illogic are persuading anyone not already convinced of your position in the first place.

            First, because you obviously haven’t read much about this matter other than this blog article, it is clear that you don’t know even elementary facts, slanted as they may be in Griffin’s favor. For example, Holy Ghost Prep is situate in Cornwells Heights, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, immediately north of the County line with Philadelphia. It is not in New Jersey. Griffin resides in New Jersey with the fellow he wants to “marry.” Apparently Griffin entered a “civil union” with this man several years ago in New Jersey. This may be public record in New Jersey, but not so in Pennsylvania. The idea that Holy Ghost has an ongoing obligation to continuously search the public records of another state is simply ludicrous. It’s also ludicrous to propose as you do that treating Griffin with leniency and providing him with a zone of privacy about his private affairs is “supporting sin.” Your “argument” is a pretext – you’d have been here, slamming Holy Ghost and the Catholic Church if they had fired him for suspicion that he was gay, for wearing a “wedding ring,” for applying for the civil union, or at any other point along the gradual roll out that led to his announcing an application for a marriage license and with it his tenure.

    • Marco Luxe

      Ah, you’ve proven too much. You claim “It would be extremely contradictory for the school to continue to employ anyone who would participate in public actions which would be contrary to the basic principles of the school’s code.”

      So you have admitted that the school is extremely contradictory because it continued to employ Mr. Griffin once the admin found out he was gay twelve years ago, and once Mr. Griffin entered into a legal civil union five years ago, and once the spouses attended school functions together wearing wedding rings, and every day and every second thereafter that they allowed him to teach students.

      Let’s look at that moral teachings promulgated by the Church itself: Catechism 2358: [Homosexuals] must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives.

      So just WHO is in breach of the contract, code and moral teachings by acting without respect, compassion nor sensitivity but with a clear act of unjust discrimination? Fr. McCloskey comes to mind first.

      • Jerry Poore

        Marco,

        That’s an interesting selection from the catechism. Let’s look at the whole selection 2357, 2358, & 2359:

        “2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

        “2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.”

        “2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.”

        First, wearing a ring and bringing a male friend to a social event are not a basis for anything. Acting on that could definitely be interpreted as discriminatory. Those actions, in and of themselves, are not proof of anything.

        Second, the school principal did act in accordance with 2358 in his treatment of the teacher. He employed the man for 12 years, even after knowing the teacher had proclaimed to be gay. He accepted him with respect, compassion, and sensitivity and employed him.

        It was not until the teacher, knowingly and intentionally, decided to engage in an act (gay marriage), which is in direct opposition to the churches teachings, that the school decided to exercise it’s right to terminate his employment on the grounds of breach of contract. In line with 2357: (Re homosexual acts) “Under no circumstances can they be approved.”

        How hypocritical would it have been for the school to continue his employment and then deny the extension of employer-provided benefits to his same-sex spouse? The school’s decision to terminate was really the only logical alternative which aligns with their teachings.

        • Marco Luxe

          Thank you for pointing out the exquisite contradictions in Catholic doctrine regarding sexuality. Surveys show that people in the pews rightfully see these doctrines as a confused mess, certainly unworthy to follow in practice. My favorite parts here are a rare true oxymoron: “disinterested friendship”, along with the contradictory instructions “They must be accepted”, and then “Under no circumstances can they be approved.”

          She’s my sister, she’s my daughter, my sister……

          • Jerry Poore

            Marco,

            Thank you for those two enlightening replies. It is now plainly clear that you selectively cite text, out of context, without having knowledge of their meaning (quite honestly, I can’t determine if your ignorance is via a lack of understanding or a resistance to logical thought or just a desire to be oppositional). In any case, I wish you a good day and Merry Christmas.

        • Marco Luxe

          You drew a line in the sand at applying for a civil marriage license, right? So acts such as the following are acceptable and should have allowed Mr. Griffin to keep his job, as in fact some of them did: saying “I’m gay”; marching with Dignity in a pride parade; introducing his roommate as my partner, or my spouse, or my husband; getting a civil union; having a commitment ceremony with symbolic rings; wearing those rings; buying property jointly as spouses; listing a spouse/civil unionize partner [a phrase that itself provides an argument for marriage equality] as next of kin on insurance forms, etc.

          I think your line-drawing is merely expedient. It doesn’t represent any principled analysis. Thus, your position shares the same root deficiencies as the catechism itself.

          • Alec Leamas

            I was in Griffin’s graduating class when we were both students. He couldn’t have been more gay if he had flitted around with lace wings, a tiara and a wand. The school accepted him and educated him after an in-person interview during which I’m sure this suspicion would have been developed. But nobody bothered him, and in fact I threw my weight around in his defense on the rare occasions that anyone would have given him grief for being effeminate or implying that he was a homosexual. Others did the same, in the rare event that it was necessary, as boys will be boys.

            From speaking with younger Alumni who were students when he was a teacher, it seems that Griffin believed that it was self-evident that he was a homosexual without his explicit declaration of this fact, while at the same time the school administration did not want to judge him harshly based upon evidence that it did not believe to be dispositive, giving him the benefit of the doubt. In fact, their recollection (told to me years before this event) is that he introduced his male lover as his “friend” or “roommate” so as to maintain some ambiguity. I also have heard and believe that some members of the administration who are priests may have been his confessors, complicating the notion that it was made explicit that he was a homosexual. In other words, he may have revealed these facts in the seal of the confessional, which would not be used as evidence against him in assessing his fitness to remain an employee, but he might have thought that it was sufficient disclosure of the fact. The application for a marriage license was the first clear and unambiguous declaration that Griffin was a homosexual who left no possibility for repentance and to reform his life. I think it’s a bit rich that HGP’s leniency and charity towards a homosexual is now used as evidence of its supposed hypocrisy.

          • Alec Leamas

            You are, of course, mixing facts and fictions, and drawing inferences where they are not reasonably drawn. Griffin didn’t say that he told the administration “I’m gay.” What he said was that they knew that he was a homosexual, this information derived from his behavior, his openness with some (but presumably not all) teachers, and then imputed to the administration. I have evidence that Griffin was at least ambiguous about his relationship with his “friend” or “roommate” at certain school sponsored functions earlier in his tenure, at least to the students involved in those functions and activities. It seems that he thought that it was incumbent upon the administration to put two and two together and infer that the effeminate teacher with one very close friend and roommate was in a homosexual relationship.

            The fact of the matter is that his announcement to the school administration and confirmation that he sought to “marry” a man seems to have been the first clear and unambiguous declaration on his part that he then planned to live publicly as a homosexual man and had no present plans to repent and reform his life and behavior. If you were honest in this discussion, you’d admit that you don’t really think that the school has the right to draw any line as regards the acceptable lifestyles and behavior of its teachers if those teachers happen to be homosexual.

          • Marco Luxe

            You omit the FACT that Mr. Griffin entered into a legal, hence public, civil union in 2008 with his spouse. How is that not unambiguous? What’s the diff? Are you claiming that married people’s status is public and notorious but civil unionized couples status isn’t? If the admin deliberately overlooked the civil union, the only principled decision is to overlook the civil marriage.

            Aren’t you also positing that willful blindness by the administration should be encouraged? [Charitable to look the other way.] How’s that principled? It certainly didn’t work out for the child rape scandals.

            I admit that PRINCIPLED lines must be drawn. The Church has rules, and rules always require line-drawing. But the catechism on sexuality is an internally contradictory mess, and thus the Church has made it impossible to draw PRINCIPLED lines concerning the application of doctrine to the real world. This is not uncommon when drafting doctrine by legalistic committees, but that’s hardly an excuse.

          • Alec Leamas

            Was the civil union public? Perhaps it was. Was its fact directly and unequivocally communicated to the administration? I don’t think it was, nor has Griffin so stated. What we do know is that Griffin emailed the administration about his plan to get married, a question was asked about it, and he stated that he planned to apply for a marriage license to marry a man. He was then given an ultimatum, one final choice under which he could preserve his employment, and he chose the “marriage” over his employment. There is no evidence that the administration “overlooked” the civil union. There is evidence that they strongly suspected he was a homosexual up to that point at which time Griffin confirmed the administration’s suspicions.

            I’m not positing that willful blindness should be exercised – merely that the administration granted Griffin a zone of privacy, did not actively pry into his personal and sexual life, and granted him the benefit of the doubt. The school did not conduct an inquisition as he “came out” to selected faculty but not to the administration, and did not act on rumor and conjecture. To the extent that ordained members of the administration were also Griffin’s confessors, this would of course complicate matters regarding whether or if the administration was told about his personal life as a gay man. I don’t know that I would have done the same thing, as you correctly point out that the scandals were caused by gay priests and administrators not scrutinizing the behavior of gay priests to a sufficient degree. I just don’t think it is wise to provide a man who is openly gay or reasonably believed to be gay authority over teen boys.

            We’ll have to disagree that the catechism is an “internally contradictory mess.” I think it is clear that the Church holds that homosexuality is inherently disordered, that homosexual acts are in and of themselves sinful independent of context, but that homosexuals deserve compassion and charity. There is, of course, the matter of competing values that must be applied in this case – compassion and charity versus a clear expression of the Catholic teaching on homosexuality to young men in the charge of Holy Ghost Prep. This of course requires the exercise of judgment and discretion – and you may disagree with the administration’s judgment and discretion in this case – but it is the school’s call to make.

          • Marco Luxe

            I agree that the judgment is the school’s to make and that there are competing values involved, privacy being one of them. You seem to approve the ‘zone of privacy’ the school gave Mr. Griffin, but how does that square with administrators finally ASKING about his civil marriage? I could see that if Mr. Griffin announced his plans for a sacramental Catholic wedding mass, there would be a doctrinal conflict, But they didn’t ASK about any of his previous actions, like a [rumored?] civil union, within the “zone of privacy”, so it seems asking about a similar civil action breaches that zone capriciously. After all, they could have continued to blissfully assumed Mr. Griffin would list a fiancee not a fiance when they learned of his plans for a civil marriage license, and as you say, given him the benefit of the doubt. I’m not a fan of willful ignorance, but your zone of privacy argument proves too much: the school was happy with Mr. Griffin as long as they refrained from asking details. I think it was unprincipled, and unfair to Mr. Griffin, to start asking questions only when the word marriage is mentioned, but not civil union, or partner, etc. Using the defunct DADT as an analogy [which seems to have been HGP’s de facto policy]: the email is not evidence to support asking directed questions.

          • Alec Leamas

            Perhaps we’re having this discussion backwards. If you believe that the school has the right to enforce its policy as part of its written employment agreement with Griffin, on the facts as presented by Griffin to the media, at what point would you have fired him in the interests of consistency? Perhaps you never would have hired him in the first place? Please explain.

          • Marco Luxe

            “If you believe that the school has the right to enforce its policy…”
            The school never had a clear policy in the first place. The policy in place for years [“tolerance”] should be maintained. At least that policy has Christ’s support, and seemingly, the Pope’s. Fr. McCloskey seems to have needlessly misread a vague and internally conflicted doctrine to fire Mr. Griffin. Instead, the school should have maintained its policy of tolerance and treated Mr. Griffin the same as if they discovered he planned to eat shrimp of pork for lunch. [I can imagine the email: I may be late to the inservice day because I’m making a take-out run to Roscoe’s Shrimp and Pig]. After all, this just comes down to inscrutable Levitical laws, doesn’t it? [Except that eating kosher is a completely personal decision, and as a voluntary behavior it doesn’t harm anyone’s innate sense of self.]

            I don’t see why Catholic doctrine can’t expand the list of laws in the Bible that it has already refuted. The Church rejects many of the laws in Leviticus, so why not retire a few more in order to increase the humane treatment of real people? There’s just no good reason to reject gay people and their loving relationships.

          • Alec Leamas

            “The school never had a clear policy in the first place.”

            You don’t know this – the only evidence that you have of the policy is that which was quoted and Griffin’s self-serving comments regarding same. “Tolerance” is and was never a comprehensive “policy.” Despite Griffin’s statements and weasel words, he was never truly out of the closet at the school. His behavior, which while leading to reasonable suspicions about his private life and behavior, was sufficiently ambiguous and he skated along that line for a long time.

            “At least that policy has Christ’s support, and seemingly, the Pope’s.”

            Christ commanded to love the sinner, not to employ him and place adolescent boys in his charge. The Pope has said nothing applicable to this situation either speaking from personal opinion or ex cathedra.

            “After all, this just comes down to inscrutable Levitical laws, doesn’t it?”

            No, not at all. The Church draws her teaching from revelation as well as the Natural Law (faith and reason). This leads me to believe that your understanding of Catholicism is quite incomplete, and damns your opinion to irrelevancy. I also note well that the LORD never smote two cities nor turned those who looked upon them into pillars of salt for the sin of eating shellfish, so it is rather silly to put the two on the same level of gravity, irrespective of specific theological understandings of these proscriptions.

            “There’s just no good reason to reject gay people and their loving relationships.”

            No one rejected “a gay person.” Homosexual behavior is inherently disordered, contrary to the Natural Law, and contrary to several proscriptions from scripture, and harmful to the homosexual both spiritually and psychologically.

            Finally, I take from your last comment that your prior statements that Holy Ghost had the right to part ways with Griffin, but that you just didn’t agree with the method as it was not “principled” were made in bad faith. It is clear that you don’t really believe that a private religious school has the right to live its beliefs and promote its moral teaching at the expense of the happiness of just one gay man.

          • Marco Luxe

            I enjoyed reading your responses, but reject them as specious and Pharisaical. To wit: no one rejected “a gay person”, tolerance was never policy, he was never truly out, the Pope said nothing applicable. I question your knowledge of scripture as your understanding of the Sodom and Gomorrah story is false: the sins of the Sodomites were inhospitality and rape. You falsely use that parable to bootstrap one Levitical law while dismissing others. That’s hypocritical cherry picking at its worst — as in, all my Levitical sins have been permanently absolved, but that other specific sin that is not applicable to me is absolute.

            The fact that the Church draws from Natural Law is problematic .NL is the creation of the scoundrel as it is ex post reasoning rejected by honest philosophers. It falsely frames the premise to predetermine the conclusion. In contrast, many spiritual traditions conclude that being gay and acting on it is not harmful spiritually nor psychological — the latter claim is supported by vast medical consensus. At root, the catechism is disingenuous in claiming that only gay physical acts are spiritually harmful, but that the sense of self that motivates them is acceptable.

            HGP acted in bad faith, in violation of contract, the catechism and the Christian spirit. It is outrageous that it acted in a way that harmed its students, especially the gay ones and those with gay people in their families — and we all have gay people in our families. The claim of bad faith is bolstered by the fact that Mr. Griffin was once a student at HGP, and thus was known to the administrators for decades. HGP’s only salvation is to publicly institute a clear and consistent policy: NO F∆GS EVER. At least let the community unequivocally know where they stand.

          • Alec Leamas

            Look, from reading your other Disquis comments, I can see that you’re perpetually aggrieved as to this one issue, commenting as you do on divers fora against any and all who don’t accommodate homosexual “marriage” in toto. In my view, you’re just not an honest broker when it comes to balancing religious liberty – including in this instance the right of HGP to act as a thoroughly Catholic institution consistent with its beliefs – with the political and social demands of homosexuals. Your bad faith is manifest by virtue of the fact that you’ve used HGPs past leniency and charity towards Griffin as a means to criticize the school rather than as something worthy of commendation. As an alumnus (who graduated with Griffin) I can tell you that there was no real question in Griffin’s mind as to what the Church teaches and has taught about homosexuality, just as there was no real question as to what the school’s policies were. Griffin admitted as much by stating in the media that he was no longer a practicing Catholic because he did not “feel welcome” in the Church due to his homosexual practices and lifestyle. Your statements that HGP violated its contract, the catechism and the “Christian spirit” is hardly worth response.

            You take issue with the catechism itself, which is your right (undermining tour statement that you believe that HGP “violated the catechism) but the issue sub judice is HGP’s right to act in conformity with it, which it has done and will continue to do.

    • juniper97

      because…if you’re Catholic you should be a bigot? Sorry, you’re not making any sense.

    • pooka

      The problem is, and what HG is fundamentally doing is saying is it is wrong and bad to be gay, which is wrong whether the bible says it or not, and in firing griffin they have sent a message to every gay student who will ever walk through their walls, that they are wrong for being who they are.

      • Jerry

        Holy Ghost is a private, catholic, college preparatory school. The students who attend, and the parents who send their sons, voluntarily do so with the intention of the students receiving a strong foundation in catholic education in an environment which reflects and supports those teachings. It is legal to be gay. It would have been hypocritical (and possibly unethical) for the school to continue to employ Mr. Griffin and deliver on its promise (the students receiving a strong foundation in catholic education in an environment which reflects and supports those teachings). Continued employment, in and of itself, could be construed as condoning Mr. Griffin’s participation in a gay marriage ceremony, which drastically conflicts with core aspects of catholic doctrine.

        Just from a logic standpoint, how effective would the following environment be in reenforcing principles and practices:
        a. A smoking cessation clinic which employs doctors and medical personnel who actively smoke

        In this case also, the action (smoking) is not illegal, but in opposition to the message and goal of the operating facility. Employment contracts allow both employer and employee to establish the requirements upfront. Mr. Griffin was aware of requirements each of the 12 times he voluntarily signed his employment contract. He made a choice to go forward with his marriage action and the school made a choice to exercise its breach of contract option.

  • Sean

    I have heard all of the rebuttals about how this teacher knew about going against the teachings of the Church and the school. Of course he did! This is not the issue! Mr. Griffin is showing how backwards and outdated the Catholic Church leadership has been for many years – minus the addition of Pope Francis, who is quickly changing and challenging the leadership of the Church to think differently and to be more “Christ-like”. I agree with Pope Francis – “who am I to judge” what this guy does in his free time. There was a time in the Catholic Church’s history where
    the Church supported slavery. It wasn’t until a few leaders stood up and said this does not make sense, this is not right, this is not “Christ-like”, that they changed their so-called teaching. Discriminating against gays does not make sense, is not right, and is certainly not “Christ-like”. I get so frustrated hearing Catholics defending this action on the basis of it being the Church’s teaching. What the Church and Holy Ghost Prep need most, are people like yourself (@dhm on twitter) who aren’t afraid to challenge the Church’s leadership to be better leaders and to become more “Christ-like” and not discriminators.

    • Neil Cameron

      The Pope is changing nothing. He is simply using a smile, a soothing tone and flowery language with which to deliver the toxic message.

      When he says “who am I to judge” followed by a judgmental “they are lost and damaged souls who must seek our forgiveness”, he is continuing with the paradoxical hypocrisy that has reigned supreme for centuries. Only now its a bit prettier.

      When he says “Dont focus on gays” he is saying ignore the gays, dont enter dialog with them, dont debate gay rights, dont go there. Telling all the Catholics to look elsewhere, away from gay issues is a simple instruction to shun.

      • Sean

        I disagree with your idea of him saying to not focus on gays. His remarks were explained by him to not put dogma over love. Pope Francis comments, “the dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently.

        “We have to find a new balance,” the pope continued, “otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.”

  • Alec Leamas

    Great article, Dan – from a fellow Alumnus. I see that those stuffy old priests and brothers couldn’t keep your wild side under wraps – you moved to center city and grew an awesome neck beard! Take that, McCloskey. You’re not getting all the money Dan is saving on razors and shaving cream to fund your steak and lobster, fine art-collecting, gay-hating lifestyle. Dan’s making bank as a blogger for a glossy restaurant guide which curiously also has lots of advertisements for escort services (wink, wink).

    And what could go wrong with granting a gay man authority over teenaged boys? Precisely nothing and it has never, ever, and not once presented a problem to anyone, anywhere, especially Church-affiliated institutions. Everybody who has seen “Will and Grace” knows that gays are the most witty, caring, and fashionable kinds of people evah! By Dan’s vociferous embrace of all of the gays, I can tell he’s so very secure in his heterosexuality (he even says he’s heterosexual in the article – hear that, ladies? and, unbelievably, still single – jackpot!) that gays don’t bother him at all, and he’s never had even a borderline thought about touching his good buddy’s upper thigh after, like, ten craft IPAs.

    • Chris

      To paraphrase:
      1) I looked up Dan’s facebook page and i think Dan is a hipster or something
      2) Gay men can’t be around teenaged boys because they cannot control their sexual urges
      3) I think Dan is secretly gay because he thinks gays should have equal treatment

      • Alec Leamas

        To
        paraphrase Dan:

        1) I was a nerd before being a nerd was cool;

        2) I went to Holy Ghost Prep, and held my crossed fingers behind my back when they talked about all that religious nonsense – but others in this story whom I will discuss below are real hypocrites;

        3) I have never met, nor do I have specific personal knowledge of the main player and near exclusive source of the facts regarding this matter but damn it, I believe him! (and as a, ahem, ‘journalist,’ I sure as hell wasn’t going to call the other parties to this matter and give them an opportunity to respond);

        4) I’m straight! Straight as an arrow milled from the straightest tree in the forest full of the straightest trees known to man, covered in lots of straight sauce;

        5) Holy Ghost is wrong for not prying into Mr. Griffin’s personal life and asking lurid questions about his sexual practices for twelve years because he was like the only dude who could teach sophomore boys how to trill their Rs for proper Spanish pronunciation – Spanish and French teachers are near irreplaceable, and he was the bestest one ever! They were taking advantage of him by forcing a grueling eight to three, nine months a year job doing what he liked upon him;

        6) Married homosexuals have a right to teach in Catholic Schools, causeisaidso;

        7) My selection-biased anecdata means that all the Alumni totally support Griffin against the school;

        8) Holy Ghost really isn’t living up to the religious nonsense that I reject out of hand and during which I crossed my fingers behind my back – let me be clear, it is nonsense;

        9) Now I’m a nerd when being a nerd is like totes cool!;

        10) My moral preening and contrarianism is an expression of my coo-coo-coolness – I’m a rebel taking shots against the Catholic Church, which is something really unique and edgy (In case you missed it, I’m cool);

        11) My mother and father scrimped and saved, begged and borrowed to spend over a hundred thousand dollars for my education and all they got to show for it is a corpulent weirdo who looks like he lives under a bridge so he could take a big, steaming dump all over their religion and values – that aforementioned nonsense that made my life possible;

        12) I was so smart, I was able to resist the Catholic brainwashing efforts at Holy Ghost – I got out of there and on to a real place of free thought and open dialogue – the University of Pennsylvania. Incidentally, my opinion on this issue mirrors what 99.8% of the Penn faculty would think.

  • Joe Mooney

    Class of 72 here.

    When I was there, the course was called “Love, Sex and Marriage” to which we added the parenthetical “but not in that order” to bring the title into synch with the premise of the course.

  • juniper97

    I want to thank all of you who’re arguing so religiously the finer points of where the “acceptable/unacceptable” line is drawn re gayness. Because when my liberal Christian friends start defending policy based on stories about their favorite sky fairies, I can just link them here, and say, “You see? When you take your sky fairy stories that seriously, a sick conversation like this *is actually a thing to have*.”

    Roll on.

    • Alec Leamas

      Awesome argument to make to a Catholic school.

  • JMH

    There’s a lot wrong with the decision aside from the obvious discriminatory aspect of it that people aren’t recognizing. I’m also an HGP alum (took a trip with Michael Griffin as the chaperone to Spain as a student), but what’s astounded me is the lack of leadership exhibited by the school. Claiming the decision was “difficult” and they “were left with no choice” is pretty insulting.

    You did have a choice. You made the easy one to fall back on a handbook policy, not the tough one. The administration should at least take responsibility for the decision by communicating it properly, not putting the blame on Mr. Griffin for leaving them with no choice.

    I wrote a bit more detail here: http://streetwisdom.net/blog/2013/12/11/area-man-makes-difficult-decision-uses-handbook

  • Coleen McCrea Katz

    Mr. Griffin signed a contract with Holy Ghost. That contract had some pretty specific language in it. The language included living in a life style consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church (i.e. in a valid Catholic marriage or in a single life). Mr. Griffin knew that when he decided to apply for a same sex marriage license in another state, his legal right, he would violate his contract and would therefore be fired.

    Mr. Griffin is looking to be a martyr. Mr. Griffin is doing a fine job of making his point and pushing his agenda. He, however, is wrong. The school and, by extension the Roman Catholic Church, has every right to set its own moral standards. Mr. Griffin has every right to live his life as he sees fit. When those to things to not agree, it’s time for them to part ways.

    Mr. Griffin, you do not have a RIGHT to work at Holy Ghost! You may have a right to work at a public school, but not at a Catholic one. I admire your balls and I admire your ability to twist all of the media in to backing your agenda. But you are wrong.

    • Neil Cameron

      Is this a demand for a guaranteed right to work there?
      Or is this simply shining a light on the outmoded medieval methodologies employed by an intolerant, uncaring dinosaur of an organization that is ill suited to the contemporary world?
      Is this being publicized in an environment in which the organizations fancy new Pope appears to be directing the church on a more enlightened path, but the pet tyrannosaur has alternative plans?
      Is this here to highlight the two tongued double speak, hypocrisy, intolerance and hateful enforcement of those double standards that the Church has religiously reinforced for centuries.

      Is this about his rights, or is this about the way of the Church?

    • Danno

      I am a straight male that was repeatedly raped by a catholic priest when I was an altar boy. The reason I gave you a little bit about my background is that I have heard the same venom that drips from your comment Coleen. They were comments like; just get over it. Fr. X would never hurt anyone, and you just want money. To me, your use of the venom in your comment shows why the Catholic church is becoming irrelevant. If you read your comment from the perspective of how you think Jesus Christ would handle this issue, your heart might warm a bit.

      See there are things that are legal that do not make them right. We could argue that other teachers may have violated their contracts by using birth control, per-marital sex, even at one time, eating meat on a Friday. I doubt that you would fall into that class. Are you OK with gays in the military? You should be, because many have died protecting you and your rights, even though many refuse them the same rights.

      Coleen, I believe the confusion to be that you think the teachings of the Catholic Church are the same as the teachings of Jesus Christ.

      The Catholic Church, their leadership and Father James McCloskey
      as evidenced by their actions, have forgotten that their Church was founded on the teachings of Jesus Christ. Please look in your heart to find love for those who seem different.

  • Milton Friedman

    True diversity means accepting viewpoints different from one’s own-a thought completely lost on those pushing diversity viewpoints down our throats.
    I suppose to the leftists this teacher should be able to speak about how he’s rejected God completely and that the catholic church is evil-to the left that would fit well with their ideas of diversity-I.e. any and all ideas that undermine institutions that aren’t pledged to the almighty State.