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Archdiocese of Cincinnati Faces Lawsuit After Firing Teacher for Fornication

Holy Family, by Raphael

Today is the Feast Day of the Holy Family, so it’s no surprise to see a Catholic diocese being attacked for upholding the values we have which flow from the Holy Family, is it? So it is with a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Cincinnati filed by a teacher in a diocesan school who was fired for fornication.

Earlier this month, the Diocese of Venice won a lawsuit that had been filed by a Catholic school teacher claiming “discrimination” for being fired after making what appear to be false claims about things a priest said in the confessional.  The court in that case ruled that the diocese can fire anyone in a ministerial position for any reason. The attorney for the Ohio teacher filing suit against the Archdiocese of Cincinnati after being fired for fornication claims her position is not “ministerial” and that this means the Church has no right to fire her for immoral behavior.

An unmarried Catholic school teacher who said she was fired after telling her principal that she was pregnant is suing the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati.It’s the second lawsuit that’s been filed in the last two years against archdiocese over the firing of a pregnant teacher.

[...] A termination letter said she was fired for violating a section of her employment contract that requires employees to “comply with and act consistently in accordance with the stated philosophy and teachings of the Roman Catholic Church,” according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court.Her attorney said that, “as a non-ministerial employee, (she) was not subject to a ‘morality clause.’”

There is no quote provided, which is unfortunate, but the Associated Press has this to say about why the plaintiff considers this to be a case of gender discrimination.

She said her firing for moral reasons was discriminatory because male employees engaging in premarital sex don’t face the same consequences.

She wasn’t fired because she’s female. She was fired because she did not live up to what the Church expected her to live up to, and which she formally and legally agreed to live up to. Further, I’m confident that the archdiocese would fire male teachers for fornication, as well they should. There is no guarantee that a teacher would not be caught in fornication based simply on whether the teacher can become pregnant. An example would be if a male teacher were living with a female who is not his wife, mother or sister. That alone should be enough to fire him, because of the bad example it sets for children. The question here really is whether a Catholic diocese has the right to require teachers to behave morally as a condition of employment. If such requirements are not allowed under the civil law, then the Church would be acting illegally in requiring the teachers she employs to behave morally.

Wouldn’t it be great to be a fly on the wall in this courtroom and hear the arguments that will be presented? If the civil government (the State) can force the Church to hire people who behave immorally, which is essentially what the plaintiff is claiming should happen here, then there becomes no good reason for a Catholic school to exist. Parents of Catholic school students expect their kids to be taught according to the Catholic Faith. Children would face serious confusion if the Church offered teachers who do not live up to those standards. It is the Church which should have her discretion on these matters, not the State. The Church, by the way, is a “She” being the Bride of Christ. As a Catholic, I see this argument as discrimination against the Bride for trying to live up to being the Bride.

The plaintiff and her attorneys are advocating for what they believe should be the “standard” for all to follow, in this case.

Standard — something considered by an authority or by general consent as a basis of comparison; an approved model.

In claiming that their view should be the standard, they are claiming that the Church cannot have moral standards in practice. They are saying that the State has authority over the Church on matters related to faith and morals. It follows, then, that if the court decides in the plaintiff’s favor, the court would thereby be ruling that the State has replaced the Pope and the bishops in the area of authority on faith and morals….even within our own Catholic institutions.


CCC 891 – “The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful – who confirms his brethren in the faith he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals. . . . The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter’s successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium,” above all in an Ecumenical Council. When the Church through its supreme Magisterium proposes a doctrine “for belief as being divinely revealed,” and as the teaching of Christ, the definitions “must be adhered to with the obedience of faith.” This infallibility extends as far as the deposit of divine Revelation itself.

This is not to say that it is what their intent is. Perhaps this woman just likes her job and wants it back, and she may have no idea that her lawsuit is a very serious attack on the Church. She may not even realize that she is asking for the State to replace the Pope and the Bishops on what is their primary role in the Church. The attorneys involved in the case may have a better idea of the implications of all of this, but we can’t judge their hearts. Only God can do that. Still, it’s clear to any faithful Catholic what would be the impact of the State ruling that the State has authority over the Pope and the Bishops on matters of faith and morals.

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