Let’s stipulate at the outset that I know a bit about Catholic education. I’m a product of it.
Thank you, St. John Vianney School, for teaching me how to spell, to never talk in the hall and to sing Gregorian Chant at funerals when I should have been in math class.
So, I wasn’t surprised to see a story about Maggie Barton, a technology teacher, basketball coach, yearbook adviser and lifelong Catholic who loved to play her guitar to accompany Mass, who was fired from her job at All Souls Catholic School because she kissed a woman.
Oh, the horror.
When the photo was brought to the attention of the Archdiocese of Denver, she was grilled about the intimate details of her personal life and fired immediately.
That’s exactly the lurid, bitter side of Catholic culture that drove so many away decades ago.
The archdiocese, meanwhile, defended its actions with righteous indignation.
It said it wasn’t just about the kiss. It was so much bigger than that.
Barton is in a same-sex relationship, (imagine!) which violates the contract she signed six years ago when she came to work at the school. The contract requires her to “personally [exemplify] the characteristics of Catholic living.”
But it was the picture of her kissing a woman that triggered the outrage of the clergy, the same guys who parade around in embroidered head gear and full-length gowns and demonize trans people.
But never mind the fairy godmother costumes, these also are the same folks who did nothing to stop priests from preying on vulnerable children for decades.
Even the pope says being gay is not a crime, but we all know molesting children unequivocally is. Somebody should tell the bishops.
Their legacy of shameless hypocrisy and deceit is breathtaking.
A review of allegations of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in 2019 found “over the last 70 years in Colorado, a total of at least 166 children have been victimized by 43 Roman Catholic priests.” It also found that the three dioceses in the state covered up the priests’ behavior, enabling them to continue their crimes without consequences across generations of church leadership.
The report found “that historically on average it took 19.5 years before a Colorado Diocese concretely restricted an abusive priest’s authority after receiving an allegation that he was sexually abusing children.”
If smart phones had been around back then, you can bet there would have been hundreds of photos of priests kissing children. Still, who knows if even that would have got their attention.
In 2020, the Colorado Attorney General’s office released a supplemental report, identifying 46 more victims abused by nine more priests, including the celebrity priest, Charles Woodrich, known as Father Woody. He was a renowned advocate for the poor and homeless.
After the reports were released, the Denver Archdiocese paid more than $7.3 million to resolve dozens of claims through the state’s Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program.
Then, to try to deflect attention from the discussion of their worldwide protection racket for criminally predatory priests, they changed the subject.
They pumped up the volume on the homophobic rhetoric.
Last year, the Archdiocese of Denver issued “guidance” to local Catholic schools, telling them not to enroll transgender students, to ban teachers who decide to transition and to prohibit students from using pronouns “at odds with the student’s biological sex.”
It also ordered school personnel to treat gay parents differently.
“A Catholic school cannot treat a same-sex couple as a family equivalent,” it said. They’re second-class citizens.
And proving that the diocese had lawyered up before distributing its manifesto, the guidelines said that any charges, complaints or lawsuits challenging such discrimination can be defended by claiming they are based on “Catholic teaching” and “religious freedom.”
Never mind 70 years of protecting predatory priests, the guidelines said it’s the “spread of gender ideology” that is “a danger to the faith of Christians.”
A whole lot of devout Christians don’t think so.
In fact, the Church of England is confronting the whole nonbinary, gender-neutral pronoun debate head on, starting with the Big Kahuna: God.
Is God a he, a she or a they? A father or a mother? AC, DC or AC/DC?
Lord, get me rewrite.
Our Parent, who art in heaven … Glory be to the Parent … In the name of the Parent, the Son and the …
It’s enough to make us all pray for better English pronouns.
And as for Maggie Barton, the archdiocese’s actions appear to be backfiring.
Parents and staff members at All Souls and some other Catholic churches started a GoFundMe campaign that has raised more than $24,000 so far to help Barton while she searches for another teaching job.
They’re Christians keeping the faith … in spite of the bishops.
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