On Monday, February 4th I was given an ultimatum by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Namely, to take down my post on this site entitled, “Choose Your Battles,” sign a number of documents assuring my silence and keep my job – or, resign.
After much deliberation with my wife, family, trusted clergy, professionals from all walks of life and my own meditative silence, I decided not to take the post down, nor to recant my position that “I unabashedly believe gay people SHOULD be allowed to marry.”
As “Choose Your Battles” goes on to say, “Ethically, morally and legally I believe this.”
And I do.
If I take that post down I would not be able to look at the thousands of former students and families with whom I have worked for twelve years in the eye. I have tried my hardest (even when it would have been easier not to) to instill the values of resilience in the face of pressure, public acts of justice and patient decision making in every student who has been in my classroom, office or not for profits. What would I say to all of them if I were to go against my OWN conscience so that I could keep my job for four months?
I refused to agree to the Archdiocese’s terms BECAUSE OF my faith formation at Catholic schools and relationship with Catholic family members & clergy – not in spite of it.
I believe gay people should be allowed to marry because I believe in the Sermon on the Mount. I try to let the Gospel of Matthew, chapters 5 through 7, guide my life.
I will not be quiet about what my informed conscience tells me is right and just.
The only painful part of this entire decision for Katie and me is reconciling the difficulty my students at Purcell Marian are going to face with the example we strive to model for the youth. If any of you Cavaliers are reading this, please know that I love you and I am in your corner. I hope that someday you may come to understand why I am not in my office to share a laugh, a cry or a story. You can always contact me through this website with your questions or to keep me posted on how your lives are going. I trust you all know that your livelihood means more to me than my own, and, for that reason, I had to leave. I realize how difficult that may be to understand right now, but in time I trust you, too, may be asked to give up your convictions or accept the consequences. As I always tried to teach you – NEVER compromise who you are for someone else – and NEVER let anyone make you someone THEY want you to be. Be strong and take care of one another.
As anyone will tell you at Purcell Marian, I had ONE zero-tolerance policy when I served as Dean of Student Life – I would never tolerate someone making someone else uncomfortable. Some call it bullying, I prefer to call it “creating uncomfortable situations.” When a young person, or any person, is made to feel uncomfortable by someone’s else’s actions, then they are not being given the opportunity to become the best version of themselves possible. If, and when, this happened at the school, I dealt with it swiftly and harshly.
To take this conversation outside the walls of Purcell Marian – if we do not begin to have some very difficult conversations in the Church and in our communities, then we will very quickly lose many good people who could add so much beauty to our lives. Many people in our society feel uncomfortable because of certain doctrines and dogma. And this is not just about marriage equality – I am talking about all PEOPLE.
I never meant to be a gay rights activist, I always considered myself a Human Activist. For years I advocated for homeless humans, black humans, white humans, Hispanic humans, young humans, old humans, rich humans, challenged humans AND gay humans. The Archdiocese knows that I love human beings. I live my life in defense of human beings. We all could use a little extra love, and preventing someone from being able to share love, to me, is, as I have stated twice before on this website, immoral and unethical.
I thank the Catholic Church for all they taught me, and will continue to teach me. This is not some cheap political ploy – I mean it. Any Catholic with whom I have worked will speak to my sincerity. If it was not for the church I may not be as resilient as I am in my stance on these issues – and I may very well have taken down my post and moved on if not for my Catholic upbringing.
However, I am unable to silence myself or recant my statements BECAUSE OF my Catholic background, not in spite of it. For this, I am truly grateful and peaceful.
On Friday, February 8th, I find myself still on administrative leave with a pending termination by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati for my public support of gay marriage and my refusal of their terms.
As I stated a few weeks ago, you gotta “choose your battles.” I did not pick this one, but it picked me, and, after a week of discernment, I have decided that I will gladly accept it.