People across the Catholic ideological spectrum are questioning the decision to fire the pregnant teacher in Montana. I’m not even going to tell you what I think. You regular readers know what I think. Another pr disaster that spreads ripples through the world, and smudges–again–the Church’s pro-life cred. Mary DeTurris Poust nails the decision on that front:
Either we’re pro-life or we’re not pro-life, and firing an unwed pregnant Catholic school teacher is not pro-life no matter how you slice it. I don’t care what her contract said. I don’t buy the notion that children will be scandalized. None of it washes. Let’s face facts. We are all sinners. Some of us, unfortunately, sin in ways that are much more public than others, and so we are called out while everyone else slides by with their private sins rolling merrily along.
I would expect dotCommonweal and practically all its commentariat fall in behind the teacher. They take apart Deacon Greg’s make-the-best-of-it scenario. To echo a defender of Greg, they posit that the decision has been made already and the deacon is just telling us how we’re going to do the best we can with it. From Greg’s blog:
Look, I’m not a lawyer or a school administrator. I’m a preacher, a clergyman and an evangelist. And I can tell you right now that these cases—there have been a couple of them hitting the headlines in the last several months— are not handled in a way that inspires faith or affirms life. Quite the opposite. And the result, again and again, makes the Church looks like a sexist, intolerant, pelvic-obsessed bully.
We need to do better.
Maybe doing better starts when the preachers, clergymen, and evangelists stand up for what’s right. And not just whitewash a questionable, and admittedly, a controversial decision. And maybe stand up when the pastor, the school administrator, and even the beloved bishop is wrong. Hint: the lawyers are getting involved with this situation as-is any way you cut it.
My sense is that priests, deacons, and evangelists have to go to their bishops now to get things settled before a diocese and school goes into reaction mode on this. Maybe morality clauses don’t make sense for us anymore. Deacon Greg and others of his stature could make that known. Criminal actions, obviously, take care of themselves. You can’t have a person on the payroll who’s been sentenced to prison.
Even on the Catholic Right there are questions. This canon lawyer has the whiff of dissent on him. I think canon law is overblown in importance, but still it’s good to see it getting put to use … usefully.
School superintendent Patrick Haggarty defends the decision:
It’s a sensitive issue, and it’s unfortunate all around.
It’s not easy being a Christian or a Catholic in today’s world. Our faith asks us to do things that right now are not popular with society. I’m really OK, I’m not comfortable, but I’m OK with what’s transpired. Being a Christian is this way, we’re asked to do things that are not popular with our society.
Unpopularity is way overblown as a virtue. One doesn’t measure morality by what the godless outside world will disapprove of. Last time I checked, today’s world looks askance on serial killers, young celebrities running amok, drug scandals in sports, and people disrespecting national symbols. We’re not going to establish virtue by burning flags, or engaging in drinking and drag racing escapades.
Mr Haggarty and those he consulted with made a decision. Everybody lives with it now. Lawyers will skim a piece off the top. And not only is the decision unpopular in society, but even across the board, left to right, in the Church.
Who knows what happened behind closed doors? Maybe the teacher flaunted her situation and spit in the board’s faces. Maybe people already had made up their minds before a contrite employee stepped in the door. The public face on the decision looks very bad. And not just because secular society gets its morality right now and then.
For the Church to play the victim card in this instance is weak. We need to do better. And we can do better.