Friday, April 07, 2006

Who's your daddy now?

The Boston Herald reports that a teacher at a Catholic high school was fired for getting his girlfriend pregnant and fathering the child out of wedlock, which violated their policy of (surprise!) celibacy for singles. The article points out that the parents did not choose abortion or adoption, but chose to keep the child. It also reports that the parish priest would not witness a marriage between the two, citing improper motivation -- in other words, doing it because they felt like they had to.

Growing up in a small town as I did, I'm old enough to remember when a young man would be expected to do "the honorable thing" under these circumstances. That may work for some people, but for a Catholic, marriage is a sacrament, for which there must be a properly formed intention. "Getting caught" isn't one of them.

Still, you have to be impressed at how the couple is handling the whole thing, including accepting the child, as well as both the pastor's and the schoool's decisions. No, I don't endorse how the couple got where they are, since... well, do I have to explain it? And no, I don't blame the school for their policy, since it is a Catholic school, and it's not just religion teachers who have to send the right message.

Personally, I hope he gets a job teaching at a public school. He'll probably find someone who's sympathetic, and he'll probably get paid more. I also think the pastor shouldn't rule out a re-visitation of the issue. Since the faithful have a canonical right to choose their state in life (and that's just the short explanation, okay?), he might not have much of a choice.

Their lives are gonna be hard enough, without everybody else getting righteous all of a sudden.

Within commuting distance of Boston.


(UPDATE: Canonist Edward Peters provides analysis. Thanks, Dom.)


Anonymous said...

Ok, I'll put my two cents in for the priest. Better to be fornicators with some parenting issues to work out than divorced with some parenting issues to work out. The 'doing the right thing' message may have been appropriate at one time, but given the bull hockey that is no-fault divorce, a priest is correct to be leary of handing out that advice.

David L Alexander said...


You're right. The priest acted correctly. But it leaves open the necessity of continued spiritual guidance for the couple, and possible re-examination of their intentions down the line.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I agree with you about admiring how the couple is handling everything... it appears that they went to the press about it.

Of course, it is possible that they didn't want the publicity and the anti-Church tone in the reporting of the story is only the reporter's bias.

David L Alexander said...

"[I]t appears that they went to the press about it."

Oh? Where does that come from?

This is gonna be a long one, so just sit back for a spell.

I am no apologist for the bias of the mainstream media (MSM). That said, it seems to me that their own best interests are served by being, at the very least, mostly truthful most of the time. The alternative is to lose the respect, and therefore the attention, even of those who nod in agreement with the editorial page. I have no idea who the reporter is, what stories she has botched in the past (like that Judge Scalia thing), or what beef she has with the Church (which is something I'm free to discern, and dismiss out of hand). I know what I read.

Did I mention I wasn't there?

And what if they did go to the press? Yes, it's sort of a let's-be-famous-on-the-Jerry-Springer-show kind of thing to do. But let's face it, Daddy's out of a job, and Mommy's got a bun in the oven. The chances of him doing something rash are on the rise. With any luck, somebody who thinks this really stinks (the merits of that position notwithstanding) will make him an offer he can't refuse. He can pick up the pieces, and life can go on.

For a Catholic, no matter how great the offense, there is recourse to the infinite mercy of God, both through our own contrition, and through the confessional. We are not necessarily obliged to be punished forever, at least not in this life. In the best of all scenarios, this gentleman and the woman with whom he shares this child, will live with the consequences of one night of passion for the next twenty years, if not the rest of their lives. On the other hand, up the road in Boston, the Archdiocese spent at least that many years covering up sodomy without batting an eye. You think Cardinal Law is losing sleep from his comfortable position in Rome? Maybe, maybe not. But the biggest difference between our errant teacher and a good many high churchmen is -- this guy got caught. He got caught, and he's not off the hook.

And he allowed himself to get caught. One abortion and a re-painted happy face would have made the whole thing go away. He could have kept his job teaching in a Catholic school, and they would have been none the wiser. So, when it comes down to it, the guy deserves credit for owning up.

Now, if we can get a few more bishops to stop hiding behind their lawyers and do the same, we'd be on to something.

Anonymous said...

You're wrong. You don't need to be a certified teacher to teach at Feehan. He's a History major so he's certainly qualified, but you can't teach at a public school without a teaching certificate, and certainly no other school in the dicese will hire him. The man is screwed (so to speak) and it's not fair.

David L Alexander said...

"You don't need to be a certified teacher to teach at Feehan... The man is screwed (so to speak) and it's not fair."

As to the first, how in the hell would I ever know that. As to the second, I never claimed any aspect of this was fair, only that it is the way things are.