This story caught my eye because of the name of the place involved. When I see this name I always think of Daffy Duck.
From the San Bernardino Sun:
A Rancho Cucamonga man who taught 17 years at a Catholic high school was fired from his job days after he married his gay partner in a San Bernardino civil ceremony.
While school representatives declined comment on the matter, an attorney representing 45-year-old Ken Bencomo says he was fired because of the same-sex ceremony.
“The reason given was that the marriage occurred and the school’s position was that it violated church teachings,” said Chatsworth attorney Patrick McGarrigle.
Bencomo, 45, was head of the English department at St. Lucy’s Priory High School in Glendora, but also worked as a yearbook moderator and dance coach.
Students say they were aware of Bencomo’s sexual orientation.
“He never talked about his personal life to his students, but it’s something that students and faculty knew,” said former student, Abigail O’Brien, 19, of Upland.
McGarrigle also said the school was aware long before he got married.
This raises some interesting points.
At what point does immoral behavior have enough public notoriety that ecclesiastical authority must, or can prudently according also to civil law, dismiss employees?
During the canon law conference I just attended, these issues came up.
In this case, while the school probably could have moved earlier, when there is a public, civil act that would have been listed also in the newspaper (I believe in most places marriages are posted in the paper), then there is no question that you can act.
When hiring, ecclesiastical authorities can still include “morality clauses” in contracts. They have to make it clear in the contract what is expected. I heard about a case in which the school – I believe it was a school – handed the prospective employee a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and had the person sign something to affirm that she had received it. In that case, the employee would not easily be able to claim that she was unaware of what the Church teaches.
Isn’t this dreadful?
Also as part of the Canon Law Conference, we had a presentation from a civil lawyer who does a lot of work for church entities about the care which must be taken to protect assets as well as to protect the Catholic identity of those entities. It was enlightening and, frankly, a little frightening.
My respect for the huge weight of responsibility diocesan bishops bear in these matters rose enormously.
In any event, this is the hand we have been dealt. We have to play with the cards we have.