Boston, MA. June 21, 2019. Leaders of DignityUSA, the world’s oldest organization of Catholics supporting equality and full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) Catholics in the church and society, say they are “in absolute solidarity” with Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School. The Indianapolis high school, run by the Jesuit order, has been ordered by Archbishop Charles Thompson not to call itself “Catholic” after refusing to terminate the employment of a teacher who married a same-sex partner.
“What the leaders of Brebeuf and the Midwest Jesuit Province did is exactly what our Catholic faith teaches,” said Marianne Duddy-Burke, Executive Director of DignityUSA. “They honored the dignity and human rights of the teacher, as we expect they would for any member of the school community. We applaud their integrity and bravery.”
Duddy-Burke continued, “For too long, bishops have acted as if they own the term ‘Catholic.’ The reality is that every baptized member of the Church has the right to claim that identity and membership in the larger Catholic community. By definition “Catholic” means universal, and is experienced in multiple expressions across the world. That identity and experience cannot be governed or denied by any bishop. Brebeuf leaders are modeling this truth.”
Duddy-Burke noted, “Thirty-three years ago, the Vatican branded our organization, Dignity, as not Catholic and expelled us from all Catholic space for our belief that LGBTQI people can live full, relational, holy lives. We have held fast to our faith through all these years and know that we have the support of most Catholics. Archbishop Thompson may be acting out of official dogma, but he is not
representing what most Catholics would want in this situation. We believe Brebeuf will see an enormous outpouring of support from students, parents, alumni, Catholics, and the general public.”
Meli Barber, a DignityUSA Board member from Indianapolis and former Director of Religious Education and Youth at a local parish said, “I and many others welcome and appreciate a Catholic institution in our community supporting LGBTQI folks. It has been a painful time in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis for LGBTQI Catholics and our families. Brebeuf’s decision is a much-needed message of hope and respect.”
Duddy-Burke said that over the years, DignityUSA has supported hundreds of teachers and staff fired by Catholic schools for being gay, lesbian, transgender, or in a same-sex marriage. “Bishops have been involved in a good proportion of these cases, and many schools have terminated employees out of fear of losing diocesan support. It is a new moment to see school and order officials stand against this kind of unchristian pressure, and they deserve the vocal and visible support of Catholics. Our church should not be known for bullying LGBTQI people and our supporters, but for the embrace of all people. Brebeuf reminds us of that.”
DignityUSA, founded in 1969, is marking its 50th anniversary of serving and advocating for the LGBTQI Catholic community. It is a founding member of the Equally Blessed Coalition and the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics.