So-called “homosexual marriage” and Catholic schools: Bigotry and homophobia?

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So, the headmaster of a Catholic high school is a “bigot” and he’s also “homophobic” if a member of his faculty applies for a so-called “homosexual marriage” certificate and states that he will go through with the so-called “wedding ceremony”?

According to the Philadelphia Daily News, the answer is “Yes” if you are State Senator Daylin Leach (D-PA).

The faculty member in question is Michael Griffin. The high school in question is Holy Ghost Preparatory School in Bensalem, PA, sponsored by the Holy Ghost Fathers.

Griffin, an openly homosexual Holy Ghost alumnus and veteran foreign languages teacher of 12 years at the school, and his “partner” of 12 years, Vincent Gianetto, who reside in Mount Laurel, NJ, applied for a so-called “homosexual marriage” certificate in New Jersey. When Griffin sent an email informing the school’s principal that he might be a bit tardy to a teacher in-service because he was obtaining a “marriage license,” the principal evidently informed the school’s Headmaster, the Rev. James McCloskey, C.S.Sp., who met later with Griffin. After Griffin acknowledged his awareness of his contract’s provision that all faculty and staff follow the teachings of the Church as a condition of employment and, then, indicated he was going to proceed with the ceremony anyway, Fr. McCloskey terminated Griffin effective immediately.

Griffin is perplexed. He has brought his partner to school functions over the past 12 years with no problem. At last year’s annual charity auction, the duo was seated at the same table as the principal, Jeff Danilak, and his wife. Griffin asks: What about teachers who have been divorced and remarried? What about teachers who contracept?

In that restricted sense, Griffin is correct. There are many administrators, faculty, and staff serving in Catholic schools across the nation whose conduct is contrary to Church teaching. Moreover, no one at Holy Ghost Prep—not even Fr. McCloskey—evidently had any intention doing of anything about Griffin’s living arrangements. But Griffin made the fact of so-called “marriage” known in his email to the school’s principal.  At least that was one element of Fr. McCloskey’s rationale for terminating Griffin.

Administrators at Holy Ghost Prep have conducted themselves no differently than have administrators at many other Catholic schools across the United States. Call it the “Wink-and-Nod Policy.” That is, divorce and remarriage, practicing contraception, and openly homosexual faculty who live with their partners seem to be acceptable as long as those facts are kept private. However, should those facts be made public, the “contract clause” may be triggered. It’s one weapon in an administrator’s arsenal that can be implemented if and when moral issues involving administrators, faculty, and staff are believed to present a threat to a school’s Catholic identity and undermine it.

Griffin decided to publicize. He wanted his story to draw attention to the fact that while some municipalities within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have passed anti-discrimination laws regarding sexual orientation, the Commonwealth has not.

Which brings this narrative back to State Senator Daylin Leach, who is now attempting to change the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act. Senator Leach’s proposed law would protect sexual orientation, removing any school’s right to hire/fire based upon mission. Leach told

Being homophobic is the last legally legitimate form of bigotry. The thing we hear is that we don’t need this because it never happens. This is a perfect example of how it happened.

While some might hail Fr. McCloskey for upholding the school’s Catholic identity and having taken a strong stand concerning Michael Griffin’s conduct that runs contrary to his contractual obligations, The Motley Monk doesn’t. Griffin’s firing was necessary, yes. But, it was the consequence of 12 years of benign neglect. It appears administrators and faculty (at a minimum) knew all along about the Griffin’s living arrangements and were quite accepting of those arrangements. This long-term “Wink-and-Nod Policy” at Holy Ghost Prep included allowing the duo to be seated together at the principal’s table for the school’s annual fund raiser.

Like many other administrators, faculty, and staff serving in Catholic schools whose conduct is contrary to Church teaching, Griffin said:

I feel like I do lead a moral life. I’m far from perfect but I feel like I do it to the best of my ability.

So, despite what the school policy or Church teaching might dictate, Griffin is proud of the way he lives his life. Later this December, Griffin hopes to call his longtime partner his “husband.”

That makes Fr. McCloskey a bigot and homophobe? Quite the opposite, that is, until Griffin violated the terms of his contract.



To read the Philadelphia Daily News article, click on the following link:

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following link:



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  1. On more than one occasion, I’ve thought to myself that were I a judge (a non-Catholic one) and some lawsuit regarding contraception or homosexual marriage came before me, and some Catholic organization were the part of the trial and claimed “But its against our religious beliefs to use contraception or pay for it” or “Homosexuality is against our beliefs…” I honestly think I’d laugh and point out all of the Catholics I know who are open about their contraceptive use, the contraceptive prescriptions they write/fill, their divorces, cohabitations, gay lifestyle, etc. To me, it seems the Church really doesn’t care about these particular teachings.
    Benign neglect is not at all benign. It is very damaging.
    There is nothing wrong with hiring and employing a homosexual or lesbian teacher in the school or at the Diocese. There is something wrong with not saying something about him (her) engaging in the gay lifestyle (even if “marriage” or “civil unions” are not part of that). Perhaps adherence to all of the Church’s teachings on sex/marriage/family should be included in everyone’s contract.

  2. I think Fr. McCloskey did the right thing. Even if it should have been done earlier, that is no reason not to do it now.
    I also hope the good Father will reach out the teacher, to make sure that as much as possible Christian love is expressed.
    Pope Francis seems to suggest this- that even though the lifestyle is condemned, the person knows that he is loved. (But we just can’t have you teaching our kids)

    All of us are caught in a real snare of knotted threads. Very hard to unravel.
    We know we should speak the Truth and act directly and in a timely way, and not just ignore or be silent while the sin and lifestyle choices are ongoing. We have to keep trying to reach out to those we love.
    It would be simple if we could just draw dividing lines and cleanly say that we will not tolerate the evil in our midst. Many families have close and loving relationships with their active homosexual and are unwilling/unable to fight it everyday.
    I hear people talking about Phil R. and I wonder what he would do if it was his own beloved son who actually identifies himself, his deepest self-identity, as his SSA. Our son thinks you can’t love the sinner and hate the sin because he identifies himself (the sinner) as the sin– no distinction.
    Now that they are married, share property etc it would not be just our son unraveling his own personal knots that would be needed. But also the knots of engagement with his partner. It would be difficult to just back away from someone you love and who shares your same distresses.
    They say to fight the good fight, to keep trying, but it is hard. Fr. McCloskey’s action is necessary not just for that situation in that school, but also for the culture, for society. That people can take courage from knowing we are not alone in this society… and we just don’t roll over and give up.
    My friend posted a support for Phil R on fb. Usually lots of people we know click “like”. Hardly anyone did though: they are afraid to be publicly identified with that sentiment and be thought a bigot by the numbers of people who would see that “like”.

  3. The answer to this situation is to enforce church teaching, not to throw away church teaching because it was not enforced. The Catechism is not a relativist document. Catholics may stray from its teachings but its teachings remain as the teachings of the Catholic faith.

  4. Given the situation of the Church in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (no, they aren’t the Holy Ghost Fathers, I know) I am not surprised.

    We have in our priesthood – diocesan and in the orders – a general unwillingness to stand up and speak out against sin. Then we end up with nonsense like this.

    Fortunately, in Pittsburgh, we are near Ohio and West Virginia. There won’t be any Catholic faculty crossing state lines here to marry a same sex partner.

    Come to think of it, I am going to say an extra prayer of thanks that I am in the southwestern part of Pennsylvania at Mass tomorrow.

  5. I forgot to add that State Senator Daylin Lynch is in the minority party in the Pennsylvania Assembly. I want to see Senator Lynch make his case in the part of Pennsylvania that James Carville called Alabama. Someone might duct tape antlers to his head and remind him that it is deer season.

  6. Same sex attraction is an act of God. Sodomy is the practice of lust. Sodomy is not same sex attraction. Writing laws that protect the practice of lust under the guise of protecting human beings is a falsehood, a lie and perjury in a court of law. Griffin ought to be terminated for living a lie. Daylin Lynch needs to be removed as representing real people.

  7. “Griffin decided to publicize. He wanted his story to draw attention to the fact that while some municipalities within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have passed anti-discrimination laws regarding sexual orientation, the Commonwealth has not.”
    Again: Sexual orientation and the practice of Sodomy are not the same thing.

  8. Look, just when will people stop misusing the word “homophobia” ? A phobia is a fear, period. I am not frightened of homosexuals who practise their sin and even flaunt it, but I am frightened for the future of their everlasting souls, as well as the effect of their behaviour on others, especially the impressionable young. Remember we are fighting a war of words as well as morals.

    While Mr Griffin has a point about so many opposing the teachings of Jesus Christ (not the Catholic Church, BTW) and getting away with it, 100 000 wrongs do not make a right, he knows this and his actions seem to be pushing his luck with the school.

    The above does not absolve the huge number of priests who tolerate public sin, such as divorce, when it is their bounden duty to preach against it. The Great Silence is almost in the way of a silent conspiracy, aided and abetted by the bishops. I’ll stop there as the Christmas season is upon us.

  9. Redefining man is not within the purview of the courts. Sodomy denies the human beings’ immortal soul. Marriage takes place in the human soul. The soul gives the body in the Sacrament of Matrimony in informed consent, a free will act of a soul. Free will is that image of God in man abused and denied by homosexual behavior.
    Same Sex Attraction is an accident of birth. Sodomy is a free will choice by sufferers of same-sex attraction. Conflating SSA and so-called same sex marriage can be compared to a person dissatisfied with his looks throwing himself under a train or into hell to revenge himself on God.
    Denying the human soul is not within the purview of the courts. Denying the human being as composed of body and rational, immortal soul is irrational and establishes atheism. Atheism, imposed by the courts is unconstitutional as stated in the First Amendment. “…or prohibit the free exercise thereof.” redefining man as having no rational, immortal soul is not within the purview of the court.

  10. Confronted with scandal, Father McCloskey had no alternative. Homosexuality is not a sin, sodomy is. As to Griffin being perplexed considering that he has brought his partner to school functions over the past 12 years with no problem, we have a ready response. It is just to assign kind interpretations towards others. It may even be a rash judgment to assume that a friendship between such persons is unchaste. An assertion that many others do not follow various other moral teachings of the Church is no excuse. Certainly if being sinless were a condition of employment, no one would have a job. The just man sins seven times a day. Scandal is another matter. “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” Setting this lugubrious topic aside, I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a far better New Year than we have enjoyed in many years.

  11. Father McCloskey handled this correctly. When Mr. Griffin signed his contract and agreed to live in compliance with Church teaching, McCloskey had to take him at his word. That was respectful and broad-minded, even though there was plenty of circumstantial evidence that Griffin was violating his promise. (What kind of person would deliberately enter into an agreement and then behave contrary to it? Oh: a hypocrite.) When Griffin threw down the gauntlet by announcing his intended marriage, he put McCloskey in the position of either having to violate his own terms of employing Griffin, or calling Griffin’s bluff. McCloskey did the right thing, and now it’s up to Griffin to accept the consequences of his actions, like a mature adult.

  12. To say that the homosexual desire ia an “act of God” is a very bold, & unsubstantiated statement-mere opinion. Mary, do u view othe sinful sexual desires s.a. the desire to commit adultery or incest as an “act of God?”. If the answer to that question is “yes,” then what desire to act contrary to God’s holy standard is NOT an “act of God?” Sinful desires/thoughts that are not acted upon may not be sin–but they originate from the fallen will of man–the desire to sin in the human soul is NOT God’s act.

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