by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann
The decision not to admit the child of a non-Catholic same-sex couple to St. Ann Catholic School in Prairie Village has unfortunately garnered quite a bit of local and some national media attention. Not surprisingly, the secular media has been very negative in their portrayal of the decision.
Some St. Ann parishioners, as well as many more non-parishioners from both Missouri and Kansas, have signed a petition urging me to reconsider the decision. I believe most petitioners and many other critics of the decision are well-intentioned. They have a genuine concern for the child and the same-sex couple. I share their concern for the welfare of both the child and the parents, but we disagree about the best way to treat them with both respect and compassion.
I know this issue is troubling for many because it hits close to home. Most of us know someone in our family or among our friends who struggles with same-sex attraction. We love them and desire what is best for them. It is very important to note that experiencing same-sex attraction is not sinful. In fact, some of the most virtuous people I know are individuals with same-sex attraction who choose to live a chaste life.
One of the positive developments of contemporary culture has been to make it unacceptable to ridicule homosexuals. It is offensive to God to make cruel, demeaning remarks about those made in his image, about those for whom Jesus gave his life on Calvary.
At the heart of our Catholic faith is respect for the dignity of every human person who is created in the divine image and is of such worth in the eyes of God that Jesus gave his life on Calvary. In the very first chapter of the Bible, we read: “God created man in his image, in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them.” Human beings are the masterpiece of God’s creation. Amongst all creation, God gave human beings the freedom to choose to do his will or not.
The primary purpose of our parochial schools is to help Catholic parents form their children in the faith. We assist parents to help their children to discover their God-given dignity. Our schools attempt to help students not just know about God, but actually to encounter God and experience his unique, personal love for them.
We try to assist parents in their efforts to help their children become disciples and friends of Jesus. If we do this part of the mission well, then our students will be motivated to do their very best — not for human honor and praise, but to glorify God who has given them life and entrusted them with their talents and gifts.
An important part of this spiritual formation is helping our students develop the virtues necessary to live a moral life. Part of this virtue formation includes cultivating chastity, helping our students understand the meaning and purpose of their sexuality. Our students are also taught the nature of marriage as a call to heroic, faithful, fruitful and forever love which serves as the foundation of the family.
In the third chapter of Genesis, we find words that are echoed in the marriage ritual: “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one flesh.” Earlier in Genesis, God had given the command to the first human beings to be fertile and multiply, filling the earth and subduing it.
Thus, in the very beginning of the Bible, we find the foundational principles for Christian marriage: 1) between one man and one woman; 2) permanent, never to be divided; and 3) fruitful — open to being co-creators with God of new human life. When Jesus in the Gospel is asked a question about the permissibility of divorce, he cites Genesis to describe God’s intention for marriage.
While the Bible helps Christians understand the purpose of our sexuality and marriage, these same truths are available to us through reason. Without the benefit of biblical revelation, non-Christian societies and cultures have understood marriage to be a permanent commitment between a man and a woman for their benefit and the benefit of the children born from their union.
The very design of our bodies reveals their purpose and the meaning of sexual intimacy — the one flesh union of a man and a woman. This most profound physical expression of human love by its nature is intended to create a permanent and lasting bond between the man and the woman.
This unique and permanent bond of husband and wife creates the ideal environment for the birth of a child. Children benefit from witnessing the love of their father for their mother and vice versa. Similarly, children benefit from receiving the unique love from both their father and mother.
Does this mean that children who grow up in single-parent homes or homes in which they are not raised by one or both of their biological parents are doomed to failure and unhappiness? I hope not, because I was raised in a single-parent family.
However, do these children face additional challenges? Absolutely. These children need additional love and support. Catholic schools strive to provide assistance in many instances when parents in less than ideal circumstances are striving to raise healthy and holy children.
Children learn from excellent classroom instruction, reading the best literature and the wealth of information provided through modern technology. However, the most powerful influence upon a child’s moral formation is the witness and the examples of the significant adults in their lives.
Parents are the first teachers of their children, especially as regards faith and virtue. Our schools enter into a partnership with parents. We require our parents to commit to the best of their ability to model in their home life the moral formation their children receive in our Catholic schools.
There are many ways in which we can rebel against the design of our human bodies. Sexual sins include adultery, fornication, masturbation, pornography, homosexual acts, promiscuity in all its forms, etc. Whenever we rebel against God’s plan and design, there are always serious and inevitable negative consequences resulting from our choices.
With our fractured human nature, these sins have always existed. However, what is different in our post-sexual revolution society is that virtues such as purity, modesty and chastity are subject to ridicule by the secular culture.
At the same time, there is strong cultural support to choose to deny such a fundamental reality as the nature of marriage. Our cultural morals are no longer based on reason and understanding the innate purpose of an institution as fundamental as marriage; rather, marriage is now whatever we want it to be, declare it to be.
Some have posed the question: Why not admit a child of a same-sex couple, when there are other school parents not living in a manner consistent with Catholic moral teaching? I am not sure how those posing the question know the intimate details of other parents’ lives or how they propose the church should acquire such knowledge.
However, let us consider the case of a heterosexual couple where one of the spouses has a previous marriage that has not received a decree of nullity. In such a case, the pastor would normally request that they seek an annulment. It is possible that their situation can be brought into conformity with church teaching.
However, even if it cannot, it does not engender a similar confusion occasioned by the same-sex couple, because their invalid marriage does not contradict a fundamental component of the nature of marriage.
Marriage by its nature is a public commitment. Homosexuals advocated for same-sex marriage because they wanted their relationships to be given societal recognition. They chose to be part of an effort to redefine marriage. They disagree publicly with an essential component of Christian marriage — namely, the one flesh union of a man and a woman.
Similarly, marriage by its nature gives a couple a right to sexual intimacy. Once again, the decision of the same-sex couple to enter into marriage publicly contradicts Catholic moral teaching on the sinfulness of homosexual acts and is part of an effort to normalize immoral actions.
Frankly, I fail to see how admitting a child of same-sex parents to one of our schools is merciful or helpful to the child.
Recently, I read the comments of a gay rights leader who was upset by the policy of another diocese that actually held open the possibility of admitting children with same-sex parents. The parents had to be interviewed by the pastor and, if the pastor accepted them, they were required to sign a promise that they would uphold Catholic teaching.
This gay rights activist first questioned why any same-sex couple would want their child in a school that taught homosexual acts were immoral. Secondly, he said that the church — by requiring same-sex couples to sign these promises to publicly support Catholic teaching — was actually encouraging them to lie.
In a culture that celebrates same-sex marriage as cultural progress and encourages gays to be proud of their lifestyle, our church needs to uphold moral truth.
Of course, to sin, we must know an action is sinful and freely choose to do it anyway. Pope Francis is right. While we can judge the objective moral nature of a certain action, it is not our place to judge the disposition of someone else’s heart. Certainly, the moral confusion and chaos in our society impacts the culpability of individuals.
Nevertheless, there are real life and death consequences when we use our bodies in a manner for which they were not designed. There is a reason that the life expectancy of gay men is much shorter than for heterosexual men.
We know the path to authentic happiness and abiding joy is to do the will of God and live a virtuous life. This is why the church must proclaim moral truths with clarity and love.
Those with same-sex attraction can live very happy and fruitful lives. They can enjoy beautiful chaste friendships. They have much to contribute to society and the church. This is not to say living a chaste life is easy, but Our Lord does not promise an easy life to any of his disciples.
However, Jesus does promise an abundant life and complete joy to those who are willing to follow him on the path of authentic love.
I suggest to anyone struggling with issues involving same-sex attraction to contact our local Courage chapter. Similarly, I encourage everyone to attend Christopher West’s “Made for More Event” on the evening of April 4 at Prince of Peace Parish in Olathe. It will help you understand much better than this article the beauty of our Christian understanding of our sexuality.
I have just become aware of the situation at St. Ann’s involving the kindergartener with gay parents. I don’t know why I missed this in the national news. Raised in OP, and having attended QHRS and Bishop Miege, with many folks from my past who attended St. Ann’s, it amazes me I haven’t heard of this until now. I am beyond sad and disheartened at the decision of the diocese. This is NOT what Catholicism taught me. Being raised Catholic, and as an adult, I have always felt an unjudgemental welcoming which separated my religion from others. I was never taught anything other than acceptance of everyone, as Jesus did. There are no words to justify this action. Nothing any Bishop, administrator, or any human being could say will ever make this right. God knows better. Bless this family.
The commenters who disagree with the AB based on “compassion for the child” simply have no ground in the teaching of our Lord. Never did our Lord disregard his teaching on the Way and the Truth out of “compassion”, for to do so would be the opposite of compassion. You commenters who have so much “compassion” for the child ought to be directing your comments toward the men who publicly mocked marriage (a sacrament of the church!) and selfishly adopted a child into a situation not conducive to his well being (“But I wanted one!”). Tell them to dissolve their absurd mockery “marriage”, confess and repent of that action, and to go to the pastor and say “We have chosen to go forth and sin no more”. You see? Kid in school, three souls saved; good job AB Naumann! Dissenters’ method: untold numbers of lost souls to Gehenna.
“But I wanted one”.How do you know the motivation? And how do you know who’s going to help (or Gehenna as you inaccurately call it? Check your pride-it may feel
like “certainty”.Satan loves that trap-
it’s so “holy”.
What a strong leader Kansas has. i wish all AB were equally led to truly love their flock. This was a compassionate act because true Catholic teaching has certain beliefs regarding sexuality and marriage. This child would have felt like her parents were under attack and that is not a pleasant feeling. Many non-Catholics want their children to benefit from a Catholic education. We need to get away from this and uphold the “Catholic” faith in these schools. Yes, Jesus welcomed lepers. Um, he cured them. And yes, he welcomed sinners. He freed them from their sin and told them to sin no more. Let’s not reduce Jesus to a “feel good, lovey-dovey, spread peace everywhere” dude. He was also a sword.
How accommodating that out of 26 responses there are only two dissenters and both are intentionally ??? located at the end of the Replies. I agree with Joe Blanco and Concerned Catholic. Archbishop you worked the data to justify your decision. I don’t believe the Jesus I grew up with would agree with this. He brought lepers into the family of Christ.
Jim Nixon – Prairie Village
Jim, thank you for your comment. We don’t have control over the order in which comments appear. As you can see, they are based on the time they are submitted, with earlier comments at the bottom and more recent toward the top. We approve comments not based on opinion but on whether or not they include inappropriate language. Hope this helps!
Jim, you’re exactly right. The lack of decenting responses are covenient. Shameful decision.
I agree with ab Naumann. What a heart, what a mind.
Thank you for your leadership in NE Kansas. We are in need of revival in the Church and guidance in the difficult decisions of human relationships. To this end, I strongly encourage you not to delete comments here or on social media that you do not agree with. The beauty of the internet is conversation. If you are here, expect conversation. If the comments are vulgar or harassing, please delete. But if the people are calling out for conversation, clarification, and help in understanding – we only do harm in our ministry when we censor. How can we expect people to yearn for the Church and Our Lord, when the Church that serves Him, silences His people?
Thank you for your comment. We don’t delete comments here or on social media based on opinion, but on whether or not they include inappropriate language. The only comments we haven’t approved on this string include inappropriate/offensive language. Hope this helps!
I agree with you! It does seem like we are picking and choosing what rules we want to abide by. Is the term cafeteria catholic or something like that? Education is what is being requested for the child and funny enough a catholic education has potential to help the child in this situation.
Thank you Archbishop. In these strange times we need men and women of God who are daring to uphold the teachings of Jesus and His Church.
I endorse every thing you have said. Be counted all ye men of God!
Thank you, Abp. Naumann, for this kind but firm response to what was almost certainly engineered to create scandal.
Beautifu written and truthful about the Catholic Faith.
I am on your side Abp. Ths is our root and always has been and some people cannot change it.
I’d love to add experiential learning of fertility to teenagers’ education via the Teen STAR program, to underline the fact that the Incarnation includes the whole person, not just the head, as most chastity ed. programs do.
Thank you, Abp. Naumann, for your courage. Your explanation is kind and compassionate, while at the same time firmly adhering to our Church’s teachings. Would that more prelates be as courageous! God bless you.
Thank you Archbishop. We ask all our bishops to show courage and not bow to secular pressure.
Thank you very much for an excellent article. It’s time for all Bishops to unite, speak clearly and defend Catholic teaching on this important issue. To remain silent only spreads confusion among Catholics and supports homosexual activists who are forcing their way of life into schools, female restrooms, and most important, destroy what has been biologically obvious since God created man and woman.
Thank you Archbishop Naumann!
He was doing good until the Christopher West event.
Thank you Bishop Naumann for your wonderful, gentile, yet firm article. We can only pray and hope that all bishops and cardinals can find their way back to the true path Jesus has laid out for His Church.
*-thank you for a catholic leader and the expression of love for all as our Lord demands–we will gladly follow you as our shepherd
Thank you for adhering to Catholic teaching in the face of so many of your brother Bishops’ misbehavior and BAD example. Your single parent must be looking at you with great joy. Bless you for your work and thank you for becoming a priest. I hope to meet you in heaven one day.
Beautifully written. Thank you very much!
Why a Catholic school, I would ask. The only reason I can come up with is to create a problem. A scandal. Mission accomplished. Enough of the Catholic talking points. Jesus was not a pushover.
Dear Archbishop Naumann
Warm greetings from Cape Town
Reading this letter I simply can’t stop asking myself “What would Jesus have done…”
Jesus would have told the parents to go and sin no more. Same thing he told the woman caught in adultery.
Jesus speaks thru His Church. Church teaching is Jesus speaking. The Archbishop mentioned the biblical references for Church teaching. Jesus has spoken.
But yet the Archbishop contradicts what the Pope himself his suggested, so…
Thank you, your Excellency. I wish it did not take courage to proclaim what are basic Catholic teachings, but given the paucity of such proclamations against a culture sorely in need of them, I applaud your courage.
Archbishops Neumann that is the Catholic Faith!!! Thank you for standing up defending Catholic teaching n our true faith!!! God bless you!!!
Please thank Abp. Naumann for doing the right thing! I was so happy when he was named Chairman of the USCCB Pro-Life Committee.
I’ve been a Church and neighborhood pro-life, family and free-speech activist for about 10 years – and I know how important it was for us to have Abp Naumann leading the pro-life work of the Church in the US.
Thank you, again.
” It is offensive to God to make cruel, demeaning remarks about those made in his image, about those for whom Jesus gave his life on Calvary.” So we need to find other ways to demean them. Not to mention this is about the child. Lets make them pay for whatever transgressions you say their parents commit. Perhaps we should incarcerate children of those who kill.
When my son applied to Catholic school they asked the question of where we were married. One way you can ensure you don’t have parents living together without a catholic marriage, is by asking.
You mention those who have not been able to get a decree of nullity. And how its just not as bad as the sin of homosexual marriage. You wrote,
” their invalid marriage does not contradict a fundamental component of the nature of marriage. ” Oh, the very nature of until death due us part is not a fundamental part of marriage. Really? People living a non chaste life with someone who is married. Not a fundamental component???? REALLY??????
Have some compassion for the child. Why don’t you just revert to the default settings of bishops when confronted with clerics who abuse adults and children, look the other way.
Yes, Eugene, really. Read the column; the AB defines the fundamental components of marriage based on the clear words of Jesus teaching on marriage in acccord with OT scripture.
I don’t think the AB should “look the other way”. I’m sure he appreciates your suggestion, however.
May God Bless you, Abp. Naumann. If more prelates thought and acted as you did, the current church scandals would not have occurred, I’m betting.
“There is a reason that the life expectancy of gay men is much shorter than for heterosexual men.”
This is an conclusory, unsupported claim. There was a study conducted by the International Journal of Epidemiology in 1997 that considered data from the height of the AIDS epidemic, which now are badly dated, that addressed the mortality rate of HIV/AIDS on gay or bisexual men. These studies showed that life expectancy was sorter in these instances. But the authors of the report have said clearly that to use the report “to support the notion that gay or bixsexual sex is somehow the reason why people die early is misusing the data.”
“[Divorce without annulment] does not engender a similar confusion occasioned by the same-sex couple, because their invalid marriage does not contradict a fundamental component of the nature of marriage.”
There is nothing in the Catechism or Catholic teaching that makes this distinction or false equivalence between a same-sex marriage and a divorce without annulment. This is just the Archbishop’s opinion. But it is not grounded in any Church dogma.
I acknowledge the teachings of the Church. But the teachings of the Church do not target same-sex couples and their children the way that Archbishop Naumann has with this unjust decision. I pray that God and Christ change his heart and that our Archdiocese accepts all children who come to Christ and wish to share the joy of our Catholic Schools.
As a lifelong Catholic who has worked and lead Catholic schools I am disgusted by this article and decision. It is interesting the theology you attempt to use to defend your position. You reference our beloved Holy Father and yet you ignore his compassionate leadership. Perhaps you forgot to continue reading Scripture up to Matthew 19:14. Regardless of your obvious bias against the parents you are punishing the child. No wonder we keep losing good people to other faiths. admitting the child endorses nothing and causes no scandal. How many divorced and remarried children fill the seats of your schools. I assume you’ll be asking them to leave until they get an annulment to their first marriages since you can’t allow families contrary to the teachings on marriage into your school.
Please know that my family of 9, from the Lincoln Diocese, supports your decision to not allow the children of same-sex couples to attend Catholic schools.