Last week, I mentioned that a Boston-area Catholic school had declined to re-enroll a boy with lesbian parents, but that the archdiocese was looking to place the student in another Catholic school. On his personal blog yesterday, Cardinal Sean O’Malley defended the archdiocese’s decision:
In Boston we are beginning to formulate policies and practices to deal with these complex pastoral matters. In all of our decision making, our first concern is the welfare of the children involved. With that in mind, the essence of what we are looking at is the question of how do we make Catholic schools available to children who come from diverse, often unconventional households, while ensuring the moral theology and teachings of the Church are not compromised? It is true that we welcome people from all walks of life. But we recognize that, regardless of the circumstances involved, we maintain our responsibility to teach the truths of our faith, including those concerning sexual morality and marriage. We need to present the Church’s teachings courageously and yet in a way that is compassionate and persuasive.
The Archdiocese of Denver has formulated a policy that calls into question the appropriateness of admitting the children of same-sex couples. It is clear that all of their school policies are intended to foster the welfare of the children and fidelity to the mission of the Church. Their positions and rationale must be seriously considered. . . .
Orthodox. Faithful. Free.
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There were no easy decisions made and all the people involved approached this from the same perspective: the pastoral care and best interests of the child.
Archbishop Chaput’s response to the same situation was that “the pastoral care and best interests of the child” meant not putting that child in the middle of a debate between the Church’s teaching on sexuality and his family’s lived experience.
But there does seem to be room for different prudential judgments here, within the clear confines that both Chaput and O’Malley lay out (namely, that the Church’s teaching on sexual morality must never be compromised): Should we offer a Catholic education to all comers, regardless of their personal background? Or are there some instances — like in the case of children of homosexual couples — where a student’s enrollment would compromise either the Church’s witness to the truth or pastoral care of the child himself?