CINCINNATI, June 7, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In the ongoing war between church and state, a battle in Ohio has been won—at least for the time being—by the state.
More precisely, the legal battle was won by a partnered lesbian who taught at two Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. She was fired when it was learned that she became pregnant through the Church-condemned practice of in vitro fertilization, but she subsequently sued for discrimination.
According to the Associated Press, a federal jury on June 3 awarded Christa Dias $171,000 after finding that the Archdiocese of Cincinnati discriminated against her by firing her in 2010. The schools were not held liable.
Attorney Steven Goodin, who represents the archdiocese and the schools, had argued Dias was fired for violating her contract, which required her to comply with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.
Dias is also in a lesbian relationship—something Goodin said Dias tried to keep secret from her employer because she knew the Church teaches against homosexual practice.
A decision will be made by the archdiocese on whether to appeal the verdict.
“The jury’s decision is unfair, unjust and unconstitutional,” Father John Trigilio Jr., author, theologian, and president of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, told LifeSiteNews.com. “Her being pregnant was not the issue, as the Church views the sanctity of human life as sacrosanct from the moment of conception. It is the means—artificial insemination—by which she became pregnant and the context: unmarried and homosexual. The ends never justify the means."
“The teacher had to be dismissed,” he said. “She could have worked in a public school and none of these actions would have been considered problematic from the state’s perspective. Yet, this was a parochial school under the Church’s jurisdiction. The jury was wrong; this case needs to go to the U.S. Supreme Court.”
“Catholic schools have every right to make and enforce contracts that will ensure that those being paid to teach the Catholic faith actually practice it,” said Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, to LifeSiteNews. “After all, nobody can give what (s)he does not have. But this case also shows us that the Church cannot rely primarily on the legal system to bring about that result.”
Father Trigilio found irony in the way Dias wrapped her crusade in the language of morality.
“The teacher said she filed the lawsuit for ‘my daughter’s sake, so she knows it’s important to stand up for what's right,'” he said. “What’s right is what conforms to the natural moral law, the revealed word of God, and the solemn teachings of the Magisterium. Hyper-subjectivism and the dictatorship of relativism are the culprits here.”
Fr. Frank Pavone said the Catholic clergy had to answer for themselves about whether they were inadvertently complicit in her rebellion.
“The Church must rely on the vigor of her own mission, clearly and consistently teaching and preaching the faith and its day-to-day requirements,” he said. “This case should make faithful Catholics and their leaders examine their own consciences.
“When was the last time Christa Dias heard a strong homily about in vitro fertilization?” he asked. “If she never has, then neither a contract nor a court is going to fill the gap.”