Gay teacher's big sin: telling the truth
Michael Griffin, a 12-year foreign language teacher at Holy Ghost Prep, had his contract terminated last week after the school learned he had applied for a same-sex marriage license.
I attended Holy Ghost during the time Griffin taught there and I’ve heard nothing but glowing reviews from friends who had him as a teacher, although I never had the chance. By his own admission, it was no secret around the school that he was gay, although it was never discussed openly. Students assumed as much, but it was never an issue.
Not until he applied for a marriage license.
President Fr. James McCloskey, when meeting with Griffin and principal Jeff Danilak, admitted that everyone knew he was gay, but warned that a marriage license would cost him his job.
The reason? A section in the teacher’s code of conduct that states faculty must “uphold lifestyles compatible with the moral teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.”
Agree with it or not, Griffin was in violation of his contract and the school was well within its rights to fire him.
But there’s a difference between having the right to act and the righteousness of that action.
The issue here is the inclusion of that clause in the contract and the arbitrary morality with which the school has decided to enforce it.
Everyone knew he was gay. During his time there, he even brought his partner to parties at the priests’ residence and school fundraisers. A school administrator reportedly attended his 2008 civil union.
I can only imagine these events fostered a confidence in Griffin, one that ultimately led to him admitting his plan to apply for a marriage license. All he had to do was lie…say he had a doctor’s appointment…anything.
But experience taught him he didn’t have anything to worry about, even if he was in violation of his employment contract. The fact that he didn’t feel the need to lie makes me proud to be a graduate of Holy Ghost, a school that prides itself on that kind of open-mindedness.
Apparently, the Roman Catholic Church isn’t as open-minded.
It doesn’t allow same-sex marriage, obviously, meaning Griffin’s would have to take place outside the Church, and thus wouldn’t be “compatible with the moral teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.” If that is truly what’s at the crux of the firing, then it’s hard to argue with, at least on its surface.
The inconsistent nature with which the school has decided to apply this “code” is deeply troubling, however.
What about faculty members that have been divorced and remarried?
The school doesn’t seem to have a problem with them - even though Henry VIII was excommunicated for the very same thing.
That seems like a double-standard considering they - at least in the eyes of the Catholic Church - are guilty of the same sin as Griffin, being married outside the religion.
He should have seen this coming, but it’s understandable that he didn’t. Griffin felt comfortable. He saw other teachers ignoring the “moral teachings” of the Church. And most importantly, he thought Holy Ghost was different because of the values he learned as a student there.
Turns out it isn’t as progressive, open or accepting as it claims to be.
And although 16 years as a student and teacher at Holy Ghost taught him differently, Griffin should have just lied.
Venial sins don’t warrant being fired.