Some Catholic parents in Kansas are troubled by a school’s decision to reject the child of a same-sex couple ― while allowing children of non-Catholics and others in relationships not approved by the church to be admitted to the institution.
About 1,000 people have signed a petition encouraging Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, to reconsider a policy at St. Ann Catholic School in Prairie Village that denies admission to students based on their parents’ same-sex relationship, according to The Kansas City Star.
The parents believe the school’s position “lacks the compassion and mercy of Christ’s message,” according to a March 1 letter obtained by the Star.
“We ask you to consider the many ways that other modern marriages may be inconsistent with the Church’s teaching on Sacramental marriage” mentioning ” vasectomy, IVF (in vitro fertilization), divorce, and remarriage without approved annulment,” the petition said.
The signers also noted that the school accepts non-Catholic children whose families are presumably “not in marriages that are conformant to the teachings of the Church.”
“We respectfully, ask you to consider why non-conformity to some of the Church’s teachings rise to the level of refusing admission to children, while others do not.”
The petition has reportedly been circulating among parents in a Google document since last month, CBS-affiliate KCTV5 reported. The signatures reportedly include a significant number of parishioners at St. Ann’s and from more than 20 other parishes in the region.
Many parents first learned about the school’s refusal to enroll a kindergarten-aged child of a same-sex couple through a Feb. 27 email from Rev. Craig Maxim, pastor of St. Ann Parish and its affiliated school. Maxim said he sought guidance from the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas about the matter.
The priest said the archdiocese advised him against admitting the kindergartener. Since the child’s parents are part of a marriage that doesn’t conform with church teachings, the parents “cannot model behaviors and attitudes consistent with the Church’s teachings,” Maxim wrote in the letter obtained by the Star.
The Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas, told the Star that parents of children enrolled in area Catholic schools are expected to support the church’s teachings at home.
“The Church respects that some may disagree with essential elements of our moral teaching,” the archdiocese said in a statement. “We do not feel it is respectful of such individuals, nor is it fair, loving or compassionate to place their children in an educational environment where the values of the parents and the core principles of the school conflict.”
Maxim in his letter said he was “distressed over the division this sensitive and complex issue has caused within our school and church. ... I ask for your prayers healing, peace and understanding as we move forward...”
The question of whether Catholic schools can welcome children of same-sex parents is largely left up to individual dioceses to decide. Some U.S. dioceses, such as the Archdiocese of Boston, have stated that they won’t discriminate against children of lesbian or gay parents in school admissions, as long as the parents accept that their kids will learn about church doctrine on sexuality in school.
Longstanding Catholic doctrine is only accepting of heterosexual marriages and considers homosexual acts to be “intrinsically disordered.” But, the petition noted, the church also has many other restrictions on sexuality and relationships. Official church doctrine teaches that divorce is a “grave offense against the natural law,” artificial insemination is “morally unacceptable,” and that masturbation is “gravely disordered.” Contraception is also considered to be immoral.
Surveys indicate that although Catholic church doctrine has a clear and non-affirming stance towards same-sex marriage, American Catholics are generally more accepting. In 2017, 67 percent of all U.S. Catholics said they were supportive of same-sex marriage, according to the Pew Research Center.