Jesuit high school stripped of 'Catholic' label over gay teacher, Indianapolis Archdiocese says

A Jesuit high school in Indianapolis, Ind, will no longer be recognized as Catholic by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis because it refuses to fire a teacher who’s in a same-sex marriage.

A decree issued Friday by Archbishop Charles Thompson states that Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School “can no longer use the name Catholic and will no longer be identified or recognized as a Catholic institution.”

“Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School] can no longer use the name Catholic and will no longer be identified or recognized as a Catholic institution.”

— Archbishop Charles Thompson

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“Whether they teach religion or not, all ministers in their professional and private lives must convey and be supportive of Catholic Church teaching. The Archdiocese of Indianapolis recognizes all teachers, guidance counselors and administrators as ministers,” the archdiocese said on Thursday in a statement.

But the school argued in an open letter that the school is independent of the archdiocese, though located in it, and has “always maintained control of our school’s operations and governance, including our personnel decisions.”

The Very Rev. Brian Paulson, who heads the Midwest Province of Jesuits, said that the archdiocese “requested verbally two years ago that Brebeuf Jesuit not renew this teacher’s contract because this teacher’s marital status does not conform to church doctrine.”

Bishop Charles Thompson speaks after he is introduced as the new archbishop of Indianapolis in Indianapolis in June 2017. The Archdiocese of Indianapolis says it no longer will recognize a Jesuit high school as Catholic because it refuses to fire a teacher who's in a same-sex marriage. 

Bishop Charles Thompson speaks after he is introduced as the new archbishop of Indianapolis in Indianapolis in June 2017. The Archdiocese of Indianapolis says it no longer will recognize a Jesuit high school as Catholic because it refuses to fire a teacher who's in a same-sex marriage. 

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The school didn’t fire the teacher as he doesn’t teach religion and “is a longtime valued employee of the school.” The teacher wasn’t identified.

The school will appeal the archdiocesan decision and is prepared to go to the Vatican if necessary, Paulson said.

“Brebeuf’s administration and Board of Trustees have determined that following the Archdiocese’s directive would not only violate their informed conscience on this particular matter, but also would set a concerning precedent for future interference in the school’s operations and other matters,” he said.

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The school will also continue to call itself an ““independent Jesuit Catholic school” despite the decree prohibiting such name.

“Independent Jesuit Catholic schools receive their governance and sponsorship from the Midwest Province” of Jesuits, Principal Greg VanSlambrook said. “We’d like to try to continue a partnership with the archdiocese.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.