OPINION: Chaput, Be Gone With You

When it comes to matters of LGBT faculty (and a lot of other things), Chaput is tone-deaf.

Archbishop Charles Chaput. Photo | Jeff Fusco

Archbishop Charles Chaput. Photo | Jeff Fusco

Disclaimer: I am about as religious as as wet cardboard box, but it doesn’t take a devout Catholic to figure out that Archbishop Chaput’s public reaction to the firing of an openly-gay Waldron Mercy Academy teacher (which reached the national stage several days ago) is extremely out of touch and downright cruel. It’s pretty clear that there isn’t an ounce of God, or an ounce of ethical decency, in this man’s leadership, and I’d beg to argue that others, many others, would agree.

This goes behind the headlines of Chaput’s unabashedly boastful public statements about Margie Winters, saying that he was “very grateful to the Religious Sisters of Mercy and to the principal and board members of Waldron Mercy for taking the steps to ensure that the Catholic faith is presented in a way fully in accord with the teaching of the Church.” The reactions, both local and nationally, many from esteemed Catholics who have provided amazing work in the Church, are all crystal clear: The rhetoric coming from Chaput is downright wrong.

Several days ago, we reported that the National Catholic Reporter went so far as to challenge Church decisions on fired gay school faculty, stating the obvious:

“It is time for us to encourage school leaders, both religious and lay, to refuse to comply with demands that they fire LGBT employees…Why, then, not call the bishops’ bluffs? Imagine the pushback and negative press a bishop would get if he stripped a Catholic school of its identity for refusing to fire an LGBT employee. Imagine the momentum that could be built and the empowering precedent it could set for other schools facing the same turmoil.”

Earlier, the much-adored Sister Mary Scullion teamed up with several of her colleagues to publish an op-ed in the Inquirer, stating that the fired Winters was “a gift to the church, nurturing the faith and morals of countless young people, fostering a spirit of mercy, compassion, and justice.” They went on to say:

“While it is painful for us to have to publicly dissent, we are convinced that this is a moment when insistence on doctrinal adherence is clashing with what we believe the Spirit is unfolding in our history – just as it has in the past, with issues like slavery, the rights of women, and the environment. Many Christian denominations have listened to the movement of the Spirit and moved toward both full inclusion and full embrace of the gifts of our gay and lesbian sisters and brothers.”

The outpouring of support for not only Margie Winters, but for LGBT Catholics, period, has created a vacuum that can’t be ignored. Chaput other Church leadership who align with outdated methodology that LGBT citizens are unworthy of full inclusion are facing an uphill battle, as it is overwhelmingly clear that most people do not agree with these archaic beliefs. When an Archbishop gets a string of hate mail, calling him a “CHILD MOLESTING SACK OF SH*T,” it’s time to question just how effective his leadership truly is.

No doubt, Philadelphia is already in the national Catholic spotlight, not only because of the upcoming Pope visit, but because of the Waldron Mercy debacle which has sharply juxtaposed just how antiquated the city’s Catholic leadership is. Best put by a local gay “recovering Catholic” who we chatted with several weeks ago, “When you alienate so many people and the people who care for them, it can’t be surprising when many feel unrepresented and unwelcome.”