Archdiocese of Indianapolis, prep school to split; school refused to fire gay teacher

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INDIANAPOLIS, IN (WISH) – Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School and the Archdiocese of Indianapolis are set to split, according to the school. 

The school says the Archdiocese of Indianapolis will no longer recognize the school as a Catholic institution.

The move, after 57 years of partnership, comes after a disagreement of personnel at the school. The disagreement occurred when the school refused to adhere to a directive from Archbishop Charles Thompson to fire a teacher in a same-sex marriage.

The school released a statement on the split which said in part:

The decree follows a sincere and significant disagreement between the Archdiocese, on the one hand, and Brebeuf Jesuit and the USA Midwest Province of the Society of Jesus, on the other, regarding whether the Archdiocese or our school’s leaders should make final governance decisions related to internal administrative matters at Brebeuf Jesuit and, in particular, the employment status of our faculty and staff. Specifically, Brebeuf Jesuit has respectfully declined the Archdiocese’s insistence and directive that we dismiss a highly capable and qualified teacher due to the teacher being a spouse within a civilly-recognized same-sex marriage.

The decree follows a sincere and significant disagreement between the Archdiocese, on the one hand, and Brebeuf Jesuit and the USA Midwest Province of the Society of Jesus, on the other, regarding whether the Archdiocese or our school’s leaders should make final governance decisions related to internal administrative matters at Brebeuf Jesuit and, in particular, the employment status of our faculty and staff. Specifically, Brebeuf Jesuit has respectfully declined the To our knowledge, the Archdiocese of Indianapolis’ direct insertion into an employment matter of a school governed by a religious order is unprecedented; this is a unique action among the more than 80 Jesuit secondary/pre-secondary schools which operate in dioceses throughout North America, along with the countless Catholic schools operated by other religious orders such as the Christian Brothers, Dominicans, and Xaverian Brothers.

The school says that to fire the capable teacher would’ve been a violation of their conscience.

They also say that going forward they will look at how to best proceed as they appeal the Archdiocese’s order to fire the teacher.

The Archdiocese released this statement on Thursday afternoon:

The Catholic Church teaches that Catholic schools are integral to the mission of the Church to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ and to be places of learning where students encounter the living Christ.

All those who minister in Catholic educational institutions carry out an important ministry in communicating the fullness of Catholic teaching to students both by word and action inside and outside the classroom. It is their duty and privilege to ensure that students receive instruction in Catholic doctrine and practice. To effectively bear witness to Christ, whether they teach religion or not, all ministers in their professional and private lives must convey and be supportive of Catholic Church teaching. The Archdiocese of Indianapolis recognizes all teachers, guidance counselors and administrators as ministers. A comprehensive description of Catholic Church teaching can be found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

In the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, every archdiocesan Catholic school and private Catholic school has been instructed to clearly state in its contracts and ministerial job descriptions that all ministers must convey and be supportive of all teachings of the Catholic Church.

Regrettably, Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School has freely chosen not to enter into such agreements that protect the important ministry of communicating the fullness of Catholic teaching to students. Therefore, Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School will no longer be recognized as a Catholic institution by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. The attached decree is effective as of

June 21, 2019.

DECREE

Whereas, the undersigned and officials of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis have been in extensive dialogue with the President and Board of Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School on whether or not Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School was willing to remain as a recognized Catholic institution by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis; and,

Whereas, I accept and respect a school’s right and responsibility to make decisions that result in such a determination; and,

Whereas, it is my canonical responsibility to oversee faith and morals as related to Catholic identity within the Archdiocese of Indianapolis; and,

Whereas, Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School has chosen not to implement changes in accord with the doctrine and pastoral practice of the Catholic Church;

I, the Most Reverend Charles C. Thompson, D.D., J.C.L., with great sadness, acknowledge the choice of Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School to no longer retain Catholic identity according to the doctrine and pastoral practice of the Catholic Church and, therefore, to no longer remain as a Catholic institution in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. Therefore, in accord with canon 803 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, I hereby decree that:

The institution known as Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School (2801 W. 86th St., Indianapolis, IN 46268), by its own selection, can no longer use the name Catholic and will no longer be identified or recognized as a Catholic institution by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis nor included in the listing of The Official Catholic Directory.

This decree is effective immediately and will remain in effect until such a time as Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School demonstrates their desire to operate in accord with the doctrine and pastoral practice of the Catholic Church. This decree is subject to hierarchical recourse according to the provisions of canons 1734 and following.

Given this 21st day of June 2019

at the Office of the Archbishop

The Most Reverend Charles C. Thompson, D.D., J.C.L.

Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis

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