Is it possible to be too Catholic to teach at Catholic school? New Jersey’s Immaculata High School thinks so. In a story that would be shocking even for a public school, Immaculata suspended a long-time teacher for defending what its own church espouses about marriage! Patricia Jannuzzi didn’t make the comments in class — or even during school time. But when she used her personal Facebook to express her personal views, the attack quickly turned personal too.
Like Dr. Ben Carson (and science!), Patricia believes homosexual behavior is a choice. So when the popular Republican came under fire for saying as much, Jannuzzi backed him up in a post. “They (advocates of same-sex marriage),” she wrote, “want to reengineer western civ into a slow extinction. We need healthy families with a mother and a father for the sake of the children and humanity!” Furious that Dan Savage lived up to his name with another disgusting tweet, Patricia shared an article about his rant (so vile we can’t repeat it) against Carson.
Somehow, the openly gay nephew of actress Susan Sarandon (who attended Immaculate) saw her post and wrote a letter to the school. Before long, his outrage was picked up by his famous aunt and tweeted all across the Internet. Almost immediately, the teacher was hauled into the office and ordered to disable her Facebook page, because her views were “completely inconsistent with our policy and position as a Catholic Christian community.”
That’s interesting, since Jannuzzi’s beliefs are the same as Pope Francis’s himself! “The family,” he has said, “based on the marriage of a man and a woman . . . is not a simple social convention, but rather the fundamental cell of every society.” If she could be fired for agreeing with the Pope at a Catholic school, then these are scary times indeed. To placate Hollywood, Immaculata put Patricia on administrative leave, explaining that “We will do everything we can in this trying time to make clear that the philosophy of Immaculata High School is one of inclusion rooted in the teachings of Jesus Christ.”
Unfortunately for Principal Jean Kline — and anyone under the same illusion — Jesus’s teachings were anything but inclusive. He didn’t say, “I am one way, one truth, one life.” He said, “I am the way, the truth, the life.” No one, he insisted, comes to the Father, but by me. That “truth,” revealed in Scripture, teaches that sexuality belongs in the confines of man-woman marriage.
Regardless, Principal Kline wrote, “It is the policy of the school, that all faculty and staff demonstrate respect and sensitivity to all people at all times and to avoid offending any individuals or groups.” If Immaculata’s goal is to never offend anyone, they’ll have to put themselves at odds with Jesus — who said He came not to bring peace to the world, but rather division. Yes, the truth unites, but it also divides those who are opposed to it.
Meanwhile, Patricia’s sons have an urgent plea: “Our family is about to lose our health benefits. Our mother has recently and successfully battled breast cancer without missing a single day of teaching, except for the day of her operation. Health benefits are important to our family… Due to the overwhelming attacks in the media on her statement of Catholic belief, we do not believe she will be able to find another teaching position.” Let us not be naive, Pope Francis warned with haunting irony in 2010: “This is not simply a political struggle, but it is an attempt to destroy God’s plan.” And people’s lives along with it.
Tony Perkins heads the Family Research Council. This article is excerpted from the Washington Update that he compiles for the FRC.