A K-8 Catholic school in Kansas is defending its decision to deny admission to a kindergarten student who is the child of a same-sex couple, citing archdiocesan admissions policies.
Father Craig Maxim sent a letter dated February 27 to the families of St. Ann Catholic School in Prairie Hills, a suburb of Kansas City. Maxim, the church’s pastor, wrote that when the question of whether to allow the child to enroll first arose, he sought the guidance of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.
He wrote that diocese has the ability to “form policy on these matters while individual diocesan schools do not.” The archdiocese advised against admission, he said.
A petition dated March 1 asks the school to “prayerfully reconsider” its decision. The petition has reportedly garnered over 1,000 signatures and was sent to Archbishop Joseph Naumann and the school’s superintendent Kathy O’Hara.
The petition claims that the school admits children of parents who are divorced and remarried or have conceived through in-vitro fertilization, as well as non-Catholic children and families.
“Respectfully, we believe that the decision to deny a child of God access to such a wonderful community and education, based on the notion that his or her parent’s union is not in accordance with the Church’s teaching on Sacramental marriage, lacks the compassion and mercy of Christ’s message,” the petition reads.
In a media statement, the Kansas City archdiocese explained its admissions policy, which all Catholic schools affiliated with the archdiocese are bound to follow.
The statement affirms the Church’s teaching both that “individuals with same sex attraction should be treated with dignity,” as well as the Church’s understanding of marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
“Marriage is considered the building block of the family, of society, and the heart of the Church. The Church’s teaching on marriage is clear and is not altered by the laws of civil society,” the statement reads, in reference to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 decision that legalized gay marriage nationwide.
“The decision of the Supreme Court to grant marital status to same-sex unions does not change Church doctrine on marriage, but does present the Church with new pastoral challenges.”
The fact that a same-sex couple is not capable of modeling the “essential components” of the Church’s teaching on marriage “creates a conflict for their children between what they are taught in school and what is experienced at home,” the archdiocese said, and could become a source of confusion for other students.
“Our schools exist to pass on the Catholic faith. Incorporated into our academic instruction and spiritual formation, at every grade level, are the teachings of the Catholic Church,” the statement continues.
“It is important for children to experience consistency between what they are taught in school and what they see lived at home. Therefore, we ask that parents understand and be willing to support those teachings in their homes.”
The archdiocese concluded its statement by saying that the Church does not think it respectful, fair, loving or compassionate for individuals who disagree with the Church’s teaching to “place their children in an educational environment where the values of the parents and the core principles of the school conflict.”
While acknowledging that other dioceses across the country have different policies regarding enrollment for children of same-sex couples, Father Maxim wrote that he had communicated his parishioners’ concerns to the archdiocese. He stressed that this was not to “undermine Church doctrine,” but rather an attempt to “continue dialogue” with the archdiocese about the policy.
“As your pastor, I am distressed over the division this sensitive and complex issue has caused within our school and church,” he wrote, asking for prayers for healing, peace, and understanding.
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