Justice for Catholic high school teacher fired because he supported same-sex marriages

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The Case of Mike Moroski   

Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati dismissed Mike Moroski, the assistant principal of Purcell Marian High School (Dayton, OH) after he refused to remove a private blog expressing support for same-sex marriages. 

Here are the words of Mike Moroski describing the situation that was imposed upon him:

  • On Monday, February 4th [2014] 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. . . .”
  • 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. . . .   What would I say to all of them if I were to go against my OWN conscience so that I could keep my job . . . ?
  • If any of you Cavaliers [students at Purcell-Marian High School] 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. . . .   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 [. . .]

Archbishop Schnurr delivered his ultimatum because he saw himself as responsible for insuring the parents who sent their sons and daughters to Purcell Marian High School that they would encounter teachers entirely supportive of the official Vatican norms that oppose granting civil "marriages" to same-sex couples. Mike Moroski refused to capitulate because, according to his informed conscience, civil same-sex marriages would provide gays and lesbians with a measure of dignity and the protection of their civil rights as “married partners.”

According to Archbishop Schnurr, it would appear that free and open discussion of the merits and liabilities of granting civil marriages cannot take place within Catholic schools.  The case here does not imply that Mike Moroski ever promoted any such discussions of this issue among his students. Rather the issue turns entirely on the unwillingness of Mike Moroski to accept the "gag order" mandated by the Archbishop.    

The “gag order” of Archbishop Schnurr denies the free speech rights of Mike Moroski both as a citizen and as a Catholic.  More importantly, the Archbishop leaves the impression that Catholic schools do not build character based on informed consent.  Rather, the Archbishop implies that thought-control and conformity to pre-existing decisions substitutes for the free and open exploration of contemporary issues.  As such, Catholic education falls victim to becoming a coercive indoctrination in the service of a false piety.

By signing this petition, you are calling upon Pope Francis to intervene in this case (a) by exonerating Mike Moroski of all charges against him, (b) by praising him for his exemplary fortitude in resisting unjust oppression, and (c) by reinstating him with a ten-year teaching contract [should he be willing to accept this].

Furthermore, at a time when free and open discussion is the necessary landscape whereby Catholics everywhere might hope to arrive at an informed understanding of the issues surrounding same-sex marriages, signing this petition urges Pope Francis to challenge Archbishop Schnurr to mend his ways and to reverse the damage he has done by publicly acknowledging to Mike Moroski and the students of Purcell Marian High School that he failed as a Christian and as an Archbishop when he imposed a "gag order" on Mike Moroski.
 

As a long-time teacher in Catholic schools, I have felt the silent terror of working in an authoritarian environment.  Not a week passes when I don’t hear of another dismissal of the kind reported above.  A single intervention on the part of Pope Francis would give hope to tens of thousands of teachers who face dismissal should they support same-sex marriages.  Pope Francis' intervention would send a clear signal: “Indoctrination is not the heart and soul of Catholic education.”  This intervention would alert administrators everywhere that “mindless conformity” is the toxic authoritarian substitute for the hard work of developing skills for sensitive listening and compassionate acceptance that is at the heart of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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