INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis archbishop has addressed the controversy over a Catholic high school guidance counselor suspended after her same-sex marriage became known, saying she’s a minister of the Church called to share in its mission.
The Indianapolis Archdiocese posted online Tuesday a letter from Archbishop Charles Thompson saying teachers and guidance counselors are ministers of the faith who must lead by word and example and whose obligations “are clearly spelled out in school ministerial job descriptions and contracts.”
Indianapolis Roncalli High School counselor Shelly Fitzgerald has been placed on administrative leave. She’s worked for the school for 15 years and has been with her partner for 22 years. She says she’s hired an attorney.
The school issued a statement saying that as role models for students, the personal conduct of every teacher, guidance counselor and administrator and staff member, both at school and away from school, must convey and be supportive of the teachings of the Catholic Church.
“These teachings include but are not limited to: Honoring the dignity of each human life from conception to natural death, care for God’s creation, and the belief that all persons are called to respect human sexuality and its expression in the Sacrament of Marriage between a man and a woman as a sign of God’s love and fidelity to His Church,” the statement said.
Thompson said the issue concerning Fitzgerald’s employment “is not about sexual orientation, but about the Church’s teaching that marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman as established and revealed by God.”
“The archdiocese’s Catholic schools are ministries of the Church. School administrators, teachers and guidance counselors are ministers of the faith who are called to share in the mission of the Church. No one has a right to a ministerial position, but once they are called to serve in a ministerial role they must lead by word and example,” the archbishop said. “As ministers, they must convey and be supportive of the teachings of the Catholic Church.”
Crux staff contributed to this report.