Protest over gay teacher fired at Catholic school in Philadelphia

Philadelphia The principal of a suburban Philadelphia Catholic school plans to hold a meeting with parents next month about a gay teacher fired over her same sex marriage. Her case highlights the shifting fault lines over gays in the church and in church workplaces just before the pope visits Philadelphia next month for the World Meeting of Families.

Jesuit run Fordham University is standing by its theology chairman whose same sex marriage made the New York Times wedding section this year, while at Seton Hall University, the archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, recently reassigned the head chaplain after the priest denounced gay bullying and later came out as gay.

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, wading into the issue amidWinters’ case, stressed that Catholic schools are responsible for “teaching and witnessing the Catholic faith in a manner true to Catholic belief,” referring to the church’s condemnation of homosexual activity. He said the Mercy officials showed “character and common sense” for sticking to church teachings.

“A great number of people like to pick apart the remarks of the Holy Father and manipulate them to drive their own agendas,” Chaput’s spokesman, Ken Gavin, said Thursday in response to questions about the pope’s latest comments. “Keeping the doors open does not mean that basic church teachings will be changed. . cheap jerseys The Holy Father has not given any signals that teaching on the meaning and sanctity of marriage will be changing.”

Wintersand her wife, Andrea Vettori, clinical director at a health center for the homeless, met in their mid 30s when they entered the Sisters of Mercy as candidates for religious life. Instead, they felt called to build a life with each other, and married in Massachusetts in May 2007.

Winterswas hired that August as director of religious education, leading service and outreach efforts at the school in suburban Merion Station. On the advice of her principal, she was open about her marriage with colleagues, but kept mum around students and families. Many came to see her as the heart of the school.

“She was really able to instill in the kids that helping those less fortunate is something you do every day. It wasn’t just something she would pull together on a holiday,” said parent Jerry Dever, a Philadelphia lawyer with two children at Waldron.

Waldron is run by the Mercy sisters, independent of the archdiocese, but the local church has the power to pull the “Catholic identity” of any institution seen to stray from church teaching. Gavin said that no such threat was made to Waldron.