Monday, May 17, 2010

Christian schools have 'right' to exclude those who undermine religious values

Washington D.C., May 14, 2010 / 01:05 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- After a Catholic elementary school was recently corrected by the Boston archdiocese for canceling the admission of an 8-year-old student whose parents are a lesbian couple, a debate has ensued over the proper response of Christian schools to the admittance of children with same-sex couple parents.

Peter Spriggs, Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at the Family Research Council, argued on Friday that Christian schools have “every right to exclude from the school community those who seek to undermine their religious values.”

Earlier this week, St. Paul Catholic elementary school in Hingham, Massachusetts, withdrew admission for the upcoming year to an 8-year-old whose parents are a lesbian couple. Principal Cynthia Duggen and parish priest Fr. James Rafferty told one of the women during a conference call that the boy could not attend as the parents' relationship “was in discord with the teachings of the Catholic Church” which state that marriage can only take place between one man and one woman.

However, in a statement on Thursday, Dr. Mary Grassa O'Neill, superintendent of Catholic schools in Boston, countered St. Paul's decision, saying that the “Archdiocese does not prohibit children of same sex parents from attending Catholic schools.”

“We will work in the coming weeks to develop a policy to eliminate any misunderstandings in the future,” she noted.
In response to the situation, Spriggs said in a statement Friday that “is well established that the freedom of association includes the freedom of private organizations not to associate with those who do not share the goals of the organization.”

“This is especially true for religious organizations,” he added, “which have every right to exclude people whose beliefs or lifestyle contradict the moral and theological teachings of that organization.”

“Many Christian schools do not consider themselves to be in a relationship with the student alone, but with the student's parents as well, and they have every right to exclude from the school community those who seek to undermine their religious values."


  1. Now that is a really interesting way of looking at it. If I read this correctly it seems that the lawyer from FRC is not only saying that Catholics have a right to decide who attends their school (based on legitimate grounds of belief), but also saying that Catholic schools have the right to appeal to churches teaching that supersedes the decision from the office of the Bishops. I.E. if the bishops office is not abiding by Catholic teaching the subordinate school has the right to ignore the rule of the bishops. Am I reading this correctly?

  2. I'm no canon lawyer, but it is my understanding that if local bishop makes a decision regarding one of his schools, that ruling must be obeyed, unless the school goes through a tribunal process to appeal such a decision.

    This Peter Spriggs from the Family Research Council (FRC), is simply stating that in general, private organizations, especially religious ones in this case, can exclude a prospective member based on whether a he/she shares similar beliefs and goals of the organization. His statement just seems more like FRC's general policy on private organization membership. I don't think he is speaking on the hierarchy of the Catholic Church and who has what authority.

  3. Am I wrong when I remember that the pastor had the full support of the bishop who even eloquently explained the many reasons why their decision to unenroll the boy was best for his family as well as school? Regina

  4. Some things never change. Even today there are those within the Catholic Church who choose to bow their knees to Baal.