Gay Teacher Fired from Catholic Prep School for Applying for Marriage License

A teacher at a Catholic prep school in Pennsylvania has been fired from his position of twelve years on the same day that he and his partner applied for a marriage license.

Michael Griffin with his partner, Vincent Gianetto

Michael Griffin, who taught French and Spanish at Holy Ghost Preparatory School in Bensalem, a Philadelphia suburb, had been known to faculty and administrators as gay, but that when administrators questioned him about his upcoming marriage, he was fired. reported on the process of his firing:

“Michael Griffin says he emailed the principal of Holy Ghost Prep earlier in the week saying he may be late Friday, that he was applying for a marriage license. After an in-service day he says he was called into the office of School President Father James McCloskey, along with Principal Jeffrey Danilak.

“Griffin explains, ‘He said, “It’s not really a secret here that you’re gay.” I said, “Correct.” He said, “I assume this is a same sex marriage.” “Yes.” He said if I go through with it, he had no choice but to terminate my position.’ “ reported that McCloskey made a statement on the matter which included the following:

“At a meeting in my office yesterday, teacher Michael Griffin made clear that he obtained a license to marry his same sex partner. Unfortunately, this decision contradicts the terms of his teaching contract at our school, which requires all faculty and staff to follow the teachings of the Church as a condition of their employment. In discussion with Mr. Griffin, he acknowledged that he was aware of this provision, yet he said that he intended to go ahead with the ceremony. Regretfully, we informed Mr. Griffin that we have no choice but to terminate his contract effective immediately.”

Griffin noted that he is angered by how he was treated:

“The school to me has shown their true colors so I don’t know if I… I certainly don’t want to work there again after I’ve seen how they treated me.”

He also told the press that he believes he was fired because the school enforces a code of conduct for teachers which states in part:

“. . . as employees of a Catholic institution, all teachers are expected to uphold lifestyles compatible with the moral teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.”

Regular readers of Bondings 2.0 will know that this firing is just the latest in a rapidly growing trend of firings from Catholic institutions aimed at LGBT people and others who support marriage equality.   What is amazing about these firings is that while they emphasize the Catholic hierarchy’s position on marriage, they totally ignore the Catholic Church’s teachings on non-discrimination, the dignity of work, and respect for all human beings.  The sexual teachings do not and should not trump the social justice teachings.

New Ways Ministry has called upon Catholics to attempt to institute non-discrimination policies in their church institutions such as parishes, schools, and social service agencies.  You  can learn more about how to work towards establishing such policies by clicking here.  Adopting such policies guarantees that LGBT people and their allies will be protected, and it will insure that Catholic social justice principles are upheld.

You can review all the Bondings 2.0 posts about such firings by clicking on “Employment Issues” in the “Categories” section to the right of this post.

Here are the names of people fired over the last two years, with links to more information about their cases:

Mark Krolikowski

Nicholas Coppola

Carla Hale

Erin Macke

Nick Johns

Tim Nelson

William Hudson

Ken Bencomo

Kristen Ostendorf

Tippi McCullough

Jodi O’Brien
Fr. Owen O’Sullivan, OFM, Cap (see page 5 in link)
Laine Tadlock
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry
12 replies
  1. duckman44625
    duckman44625 says:

    Hmmm…I would be interested in knowing how such a contract clause can be followed by a non-Catholic, an atheist or even a non-Christian. Obviously such individuals can not support Catholic doctrine unless considering them as supporting merely by not challenging said teachings is construed as support in the twisted logic of Catholicism. Since religious institutions receive public services and are moving into the political arena by trying to force their beliefs on a secular society – it is high time that they be stripped of tax exempt status. The Catholic Church understands monetary dialogue very well.

  2. Harold
    Harold says:

    Pope Francis has spoken in support of non-discrimination of homosexuals. This case fulfills those teachings, considering he was employed at the school for 12 years while his lifestyle was known. The Pope has never welcomed the acceptance of gay marriage though which is what comes into play here. Argue your points correctly if you’d like to make them.

    • Richard Baldwin Cook
      Richard Baldwin Cook says:

      Harold, you are using very soft, undefined term to justify the abrupt termination of a teaching career. Never “welcomed” gay marriage is very imprecise, don’t you think? I would suggest that a number of teachers, even at this school, would be hard pressed to affirm they have always adhered to all aspects of Catholic teaching, ranging from avoidance of contraception and abortion to regular attendance at Mass and non discrimination. Many such admonitions and strictures suggest behavior which might be ‘welcome’ or not, but who gets fired has to be controlled by some standard more precise than what is deemed to be “welcomed” by the Pope – especially since we have had popes who have fathered children, declared and conducted wars. Do Catholic schools now adopt a policy of hiring only faithful Catholics, and enforce this stricture by conducting close inspection of medicine cabinets, of sheets, and taking call at Mass? Or is it only gay men and woman who are consigned to the shadows. I should think competence instruction in Spanish and French would suffice in a teacher of these subjects.

  3. Friends
    Friends says:

    If this school wants to be consistent, why doesn’t it question its heterosexual married couples as to whether they use birth control — and then fire those who admit to doing so, for violating Catholic sexual ethics? This whole situation smacks of anti-gay bigotry, and a hateful and discriminatory double standard, simply (and only) when same-sex couples are involved.

  4. Chaplain Bill
    Chaplain Bill says:

    Let’s go back to before 1967. This has no moral difference than denying interracial marriage (and yes, the Roman Catholic Church was amazing racist). Come on folks, this is just homophobia. I don’t believe for ONE SECOND that the Roman Church is anything less than anti-gay.

    • duckman44625
      duckman44625 says:

      I think that if the Church’s policies (certainly non-Christlike) are carefully scrutinized they will be found to be disparately applied. According to the Church’s unjust rules – divorced persons who remarry should be fired. I know for a fact that in my diocese of Syracuse, NY, this is not the case. The civil laws regarding employment MUST be followed. This medieval mindset that special exemptions because of religious beliefs must be canceled. The Church flaunts civil law – employing it when it is to her financial benefit – opposing it as she pleases. True separation of Church and State will come about – discrimination will cease when tax exempt status is eliminated and full compliance with the law concerning discrimination in employment is assured. The Church has entered the political arena many times – using the faithful’s donations to influence civil law. She is ” de facto ” a political lobbyist.

  5. Nancy Wilson
    Nancy Wilson says:

    It’s so ironic to me in this and the other cases of firing, that it was known that he is gay, and most likely also known that he was living a gay lifestyle. It’s only when he decides to live a committed life, that he is terminated. Seems hypocritical!

  6. Fr. Gerard
    Fr. Gerard says:

    Let’s take a case. Mary Margaret Malloy, outstanding and popular social studies teacher at Saint Eulalia’s Catholic School is playing to marry the love of her life since senior year at St Maxine’s, Clyde Kevin O’Neil,
    currently a senior at the University of Mary Mother of Compassionate Love and current captain of the state championship football team. Ms Malloy talks about her upcoming July wedding to every faculty member she can corner in the faculty room.
    She has been very explicit in that she does not like Msgr Populaski, pastor of their one and only RC Parish in their semi-rurall town. Besides the local church is rather run down and in need of serious cleaning. So she and Clyde have made arrangements to have their large wedding under the care of the Reverend Rickie Relevant of the Church of What’s-Happening-Now. Rev. Rick does “such nice services, with the couple standing on the cute little bridge over a loudly bubbling brook, with flowered arches and all”. The usage of this manicured meadow will ensure plenty of room for both of their large Catholic families.

    There is only one problem “A Catholic may enter into a valid marriage only in the presence of an authorized priest and two witnesses.” If they go thru with this ceremony her contract will be terminated. . .and Clyde’s pending contract as soccer coach for St Eulalia’s will “go up in smoke”. Is this indiscriminate and unwarranted censorship and control? Or simply following known Catholic policy?


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] in the U.S. because of sexual orientation, gender expression, or marital status, inluding the firing of Michael Griffin, a foreign language teacher, from Holy Ghost Preparatory School n the Philadelphia area because he […]

  2. […] demonstrations come only one week after students in the Philadelphia area publicly protested the firing of Michael Griffin, a foreign language teacher, from Holy Ghost Preparatory School because he and his male partner […]

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