A Catholic school in Kansas is facing a backlash after deciding not to enroll a child with married same-sex parents — and the school is not backing down. Under the guidance of Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, the school is refusing to compromise Catholic doctrine in favor of changing cultural norms that violate church teaching.
On February 27, Father Craig Maxim, the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, sent a letter to the families of St. Ann Catholic School in Prairie Village, a suburb of Kansas City, explaining that same-sex marriages don’t comply with the church’s beliefs.
In his letter, Fr. Maxim wrote that he had sought the guidance of the Archdiocese of Kansas City because it has the ability to “form policy on these matters while individual diocesan schools do not.” He said that the archdiocese advised against admission.
A petition asking the school to “prayerfully reconsider” its decision quickly garnered over 1,000 signatures, and was sent to Archbishop Naumann and the school’s superintendent, Kathy O’Hara.
“Respectfully, we believe that the decision to deny a child of God access to such a wonderful community and education, based on the notion that his or her parent’s union is not in accordance with the Church’s teaching on Sacramental marriage, lacks the compassion and mercy of Christ’s message,” the petition reads.
About half of the signatories of the petition are St. Ann Catholic Church parishioners, according to the Kansas City Star.
The petition points out that the school admits children of parents who are in violation of other church teachings such as divorced and remarried couples, those who have conceived through in-vitro fertilization, as well as non-Catholic children and families.
But that’s not a terribly persuasive argument.
In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a right to same-sex marriage, which led some state and local laws to bar discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Religious institutions, however, are exempt from those protections.
The Constitution allows the church to enforce its doctrines however they wish. Do the petition signers really want the school to bar every family that violates church teaching in some regard? Or do they want the Catholic Church to loosen all standards and stand for nothing?
In a statement to the media, the Kansas City archdiocese explained its admissions policy, which pertains to all Catholic schools affiliated with the archdiocese.
“Marriage is considered the building block of the family, of society, and the heart of the Church. The Church’s teaching on marriage is clear and is not altered by the laws of civil society,” the statement reads, in reference to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 decision that legalized gay marriage nationwide.
“The decision of the Supreme Court to grant marital status to same-sex unions does not change Church doctrine on marriage, but does present the Church with new pastoral challenges.”
The fact that a same-sex couple is not capable of modeling the “essential components” of the Church’s teaching on marriage “creates a conflict for their children between what they are taught in school and what is experienced at home,” the archdiocese said, and could become a source of confusion for other students.
“Our schools exist to pass on the Catholic faith. Incorporated into our academic instruction and spiritual formation, at every grade level, are the teachings of the Catholic Church,” the statement continues.
“It is important for children to experience consistency between what they are taught in school and what they see lived at home. Therefore, we ask that parents understand and be willing to support those teachings in their homes.”
The archdiocese concluded its statement by saying that the Church does not think it respectful, fair, loving or compassionate for individuals who disagree with the Church’s teaching to “place their children in an educational environment where the values of the parents and the core principles of the school conflict.”
In his letter to parishioners, Father Maxim said he was “distressed over the division this sensitive and complex issue has caused within our school and church,” and asked for “prayers for healing, peace, and understanding.”
Archbishop Naumann is the pro-life committee chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and is known to be a “consistent, outspoken voice for adherence to Catholic teaching,” according to LifeSiteNews.
Naumann has made unequivocal statements about Church teaching, declaring that contraception usage is an “intrinsic evil” in all circumstances because it “cuts off one of the goals of marriage which is an openness to life,” the Church cannot accept gender fluidity or same-sex “marriage,” and politicians who “flaunt” being Catholic while asserting that they are also pro-abortion must be admonished.
During his homily at the National Prayer Vigil for Life Mass in Washington, D.C., in January, Naumann said it is “absurd” for the Supreme Court to claim that the Constitution contains a right to abortion.
When Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò issued his stunning testimony regarding clergy sexual abuse last August, Archbishop Naumann was among the first prelates to support the Vatican whistleblower, stating that Viganò is a “man of integrity.”
In 2008, Archbishop Naumann famously publicly prohibited the pro-abortion U.S. Health and Human Services secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, from receiving Communion.
Pray for Archbishop Naumann and Father Maxim. If this story is like many others we’ve seen in the wake of the 2015 Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, they’re in for a bit of a firestorm. And the worst part is, much of the heat they’re feeling is coming from fellow Catholics.