Archbishop Warns Church Workers as Marriage Equality Comes to Florida


Archbishop Thomas Wenski

Marriage equality is now legal in Florida, and Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami has wasted no time warning church workers they could lose their jobs for publicly supporting LGBT rights.

Wenski sent archdiocesan employees a copy of the Florida Catholic Conference’s statement opposing the court rulings that made same-gender marriages legal. NBC 6 in South Florida reports that Wenski attached his own letter that said, in part:

“All employees should note that, because of the Church’s particular function in society, certain conduct, inconsistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church, could lead to disciplinary action, including termination, even if it occurs outside the normal working day and outside the strict confines of work performed by the employee for the Archdiocese. Employees should exercise discretion when posting on social media sites, and note that online activity indicative of prohibitive behaviors may subject an employee to disciplinary action or termination.”

This letter is the archbishop’s latest attack on LGBT rights and evidence he is not affected by the ‘Francis Effect’ as some had hoped for last November. Wenski, as chair of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committe on Domestic Justice and Human Development, has recently opposed President Obama’s executive order barring LGBT discrimination by government contractors.  In the past, Wenski has called pro-equality court rulings “another salvo in the ‘culture wars’ that ultimately seek to redefine the institution of marriage as solely for adult gratification” and said same-gender marriages would lead to polygamy.

Archbishop Wenski’s letter

Archbishop Wenski’s response to marriage equality in Florida scapegoats church workers, denying them their rights to just labor practices, dignity, and conscience. Since 2008, more than 40 church workers have lost their jobs in LGBT-related employment disputes (you can find a full listing here) and a majority of these occurred in 2014. These firings do immeasurable damage, ranking as the worst Catholic LGBT story of 2014 by Bondings 2.0 readers. Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley has even admitted they “need to be rectified.”

Instead of accepting that marriage equality is rapidly becoming law nationwide and focusing on important issues, Wenski is escalating the institutional church’s campaign against church workers who are LGBT or allies. This is a most tragic way to start the new year and hopefully other bishops in Florida and elsewhere will not imitate such threatening tactics. Few acts fall as far from the Gospel as intimidating the very ministers who are humbly and devotedly building up the Reign of God in our church.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

18 replies
  1. Sister Lea
    Sister Lea says:

    “Marriage equality is now legal in Florida and Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami has wasted no time warning church workers they could lose their jobs for publicly supporting LGBT rights.”

    SHAME, SHAME on this poor man who is so afraid that he needs to control everyone around him to think as he thinks…even controlling the “posting on social media sites, noting that online activity indicative of prohibitive behaviors may subject an employee to disciplinary action or termination”

  2. Friends
    Friends says:

    Interestingly, the moderate-to-conservative Presbyterian Church — sometimes mischievously described as “Episcopalians lacking a sense of humor” (!) — has now voted to authorize same-sex marriages within the Church:

    The RCC, sadly and alarmingly, is quickly becoming an outpost of entrenched resistance to the contemporary progress of basic human rights and social justice. A massive push-back by practicing Catholics themselves, against this absurd and offensive obstructionism by the Church’s official leadership –especially here in the United States — is completely warranted and badly needed.

  3. Bishop Carlos Florido, osf
    Bishop Carlos Florido, osf says:

    This should be not surprising to anyone who knows Wesnki. If he were to apply the content of his letter to his own clergy, he would have to defrock quite a few. I believe that, sadly, he probably believes that he is doing what is proper and right. I do not that Jesus would do likewise. Changes, in an institution like the Roman Church, are slow to come. I pray daily for this Archbishop and clergy like him who have forgotten their true Christian roots.

  4. Ann Neville
    Ann Neville says:

    It’s important to remember that the church does not have a monopoly on the institution of marriage. Threatening the employment of church workers for privately held views if publically expressed, when these are legal and in tune with the dignity of the human person is, however, a very serious matter.

    • Kat
      Kat says:

      Very serious indeed. Somthing I’m afraid of is that when the church leaders are finally forced to stop blatant discrimination against lgbt people, these same men will start to camoflauge their thoughts and words, equally poisonous, withoutthe necessary true growth in their understanding of gay people.

      • Ann Neville
        Ann Neville says:

        Probably so, especially given that gay men seem to be over-represented numerically among the celibate clergy. Presumably those who are trans or bi-, cross-dressers or otherwise different also live in fear and denial, and turn their self-hatred towards those most resembling them in the community.

  5. Stephen
    Stephen says:

    I think he should lose his job.
    And may God bless the people who are going to be fired in the coming months because of his ignorance.

  6. Neil V. Christensen
    Neil V. Christensen says:

    So, the Bishop feels that HE has the right to deny “freedom of speech, assembly, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness,” to any Catholic who works for the church, not to mention the Civil Rights of a whole class of Persons who may or may not be past of his flock. He needs to have his citizenship revoked and be deported to the Vatican, for deny American citizen their right as American Citizens. Sound rather Nazi-like to me! Vicious Power & control by a simple minded person, once again! Rome really hates democracy. I wonder how many people will be leaving the RCC, in Florida?

  7. Rosa G. Manriquez, IHM
    Rosa G. Manriquez, IHM says:

    My brother, Thomas, is mistakenly or purposely confusing sacramental marriage with civil marriage. The marriage equality movement has nothing to do with sacramental marriage. It has everything to do with the human dignity and civil rights of all Americans. Additionally he is violating RCC teaching concerning the Primacy of Conscience. All those workers he has threatened have an obligation to follow their informed conscience. In my opinion, he has stepped outside his role as a bishop by threatening them in the hopes of preventing them from following their conscience. He is in my prayers, through the intercession of Bishop Oscar Romero. May he put aside the blindness of fear and pride and quietly wait on the Holy Spirit.

  8. phrogge
    phrogge says:

    Rosa, I think you are right on target, balanced, and calm. Thanks for sharing your insight. This mess has significant potential for good and bad. It might encourage good folks to take some kind of positive action. I believe the Holy Spirit is doing great things, and the ABP’s actions might provide an opportunity for wisdom and courage to act.

  9. Bill Freeman
    Bill Freeman says:

    He and his ill are the first to scream “religious liberty.” What about my religious liberty? I feel bad for the Pope — “with friends like this, who needs enemies.”

  10. jbrich1226
    jbrich1226 says:

    Thanks to New Ways Ministries for posting this article. Archbishop Wenski provides a good example of why we—men and women alike—must all band together to promote equality and inclusion in today’s church. I will definitely be sharing this link on my author’s page today!
    JB Richards
    Author of “Miriamne the Magdala-The First Chapter in the Yeshua and Miri Novel Series” and Content Creator for The Miriamne Page


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] rhetoric had a role in the Orlando massacre. After marriage equality became legal in 2015, Wenski warned church workers in a letter that they would lose their jobs if they supported LGBT equality. Previously, Wenski […]

  2. […] even Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami who recently threatened church workers’ jobs for supporting marriage equality, has admitted that for young Catholics, “Language like […]

  3. […] 2.0 reported yesterday that Wenski’s letter about the legalization of same-gender marriage intimidated church workers by warning them against publicly supporting LGBT rights anywhere and at any […]

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