Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Diocese of Canarias expels married gay teacher
August 11, 2014
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, in the section on homosexuality and chastity, acknowledges the existence of gay people and invites them to practice chastity, for having an "intrinsically disordered" life. Luis Alberto González, a professor of religion on the island of Lanzarote, got a message telling him that "it is no longer appropriate" for him to continue to be in the classroom.
Gonzalez, who used to be a priest, married a man two years ago. Then he sent a letter to the bishop, informing him of his situation. After 24 months of silence and after sending a letter to the editor of El País titled "Good News" [English translation below], he received the notice that put him on the path to unemployment. The Ministry of Education of the Canary Islands had confirmed his position as professor for the term that starts in less than a month.
A brief faxed statement explained Luis Alberto Gonzalez's dismissal: "For reasons of doctrine and morality and under canon law, your suitability as a religion teacher is retracted." The sender was the Bishop of the Canarias. Gonzalez is taking it casually, saying "I knew it could happen" and assuming that "it is what it is." He says he believes that he doesn't fit the profile the Catholic Church is looking for and has no problems recognizing that he isn't suitable. "Of course, I recognize it and so I'm asking them to terminate me fairly and to be entitled to unemployment benefits. I'll find a way."
After 15 years with an unblemished record, the teacher says that "people grow up" and that, in his case, he has "distanced himself from certain Catholic principles." One of these departures was when, being true to his conscience, he married his partner in 2012. He always thought that "in a matter of private life, there was not need to offer explanations," but says he knows the Church and, "given that the marriage institution has public repercussions," he alerted the Diocese and put his job in their hands.
González also questions the "manipulation of beliefs by those who have power in religion." Following "a religion that considers itself God's spokesman to the point of getting into all areas of life of what a person should do" doesn't seem appropriate to him. The teacher argues that "there are elements of the citizenry, such as the people who make up the educational community, who don't think it's bad for someone who is gay and married to teach religion, but as you go up the pyramid of the Catholic hierarchy, one is aware that they're on a different wavelength, advocating certain themes, including ones that could be considered medieval."
The Diocese of Canarias referred back to the notice sent to the teacher, concise and without reference to the long silence it had maintained. His employment status is now uncertain. On the one hand, late last month, the Ministry of Education issued the list of teachers which included him for the next term. Later, he was told that he doesn't meet the necessary values to teach the subject he's teaching. From the Canary Islands Government, the Deputy Minister of Education, Manuela Armas stated: "At the end of the month, we will know what is happening with this teacher, because the diocese has not informed us yet." Armas argues that "it's the diocese that determines the teachers who ought to teach religion and deems whether they are suitable or not. Now, Education is going to take responsibility for confirming that he is not."
"There will always be those who will say that the Church is like a club. If you don't want to be there, go. I, however, argue -- and I've been a priest -- that you can help change it from within," says the religion teacher and he concludes: "The Church itself has to be revised, take up these debates normally and face them."
The directives of the Church are what they are: Homosexuals are supposed to "live in chastity", because acts that are "intrinsically disordered...under no circumstances can [they] be approved." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, number 2357). Pope Francis, in front of a microphone, talking about not judging the "gay person who is seeking the Lord" is one thing, but accepting a homosexual relationship is something quite different. Moreover, the law grants the bishops the right to propose or withdraw professorships in Religion.
Therefore, I assumed I would be fired, but my employment contract has been renewed year after year. Either the bishop of Canarias doesn't consider the matter very important, or he's taking a new approach to the issue in his jurisdiction. In either case, it's good news.— Luis Alberto González Delgado.