The priest who has headed campus ministry Seton Hall University has been removed after he publicly supported the NOH8 campaign, on social media.
On Friday, Fr. Warren Hall tweeted:
“I’ve been fired from SHU for posting a pic on FB supporting LGBT “NO H8.” I’m sorry it was met with this response. I’ll miss my work here.”
The NOH8 campaign describes themselves as “a charitable organization whose mission is to promote marriage, gender and human equality through education, advocacy, social media, and visual protest.”
Hall, who is also an adjunct Catholic studies professor at the South Orange, New Jersey, Catholic school, deleted that tweet but followed up by calling for constructive dialogue in response to his firing:
“Grateful for all the support. Dont [sic] be angry!! Turn this into an opportunity for open/reasonable discussion on LGBT issues on a Cath Campus.”
A petition gained nearly 2,200 signatures over the weekend, saying Hall “contributed greatly to the academic and spiritual lives of the students.” Student organizer Ethan Kraft told the Washington Post:
” ‘This action is neither in line with the teachings of Jesus Christ, nor the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis…Father Hall is a well-loved member of the Seton Hall community, and much of the student body is shocked and saddened by this decision.’ “
2011 alum John Colantoni told app.com that Hall’s removal is “a big loss for everybody” because:
“[H]e inspired us to be better in and out of the classroom. He allowed kids to feel comfortable. In his classroom you weren’t afraid to share ideas.”
Responding to media inquiries, Seton Hall’s administration has attempted to distance itself from the firing. Spokesperson Laurie Pine released a statement saying:
“Seton Hall University does not comment on personnel matters…The Archbishop of Newark appoints the Director of Campus Ministry, who serves at his discretion.”
Officials reiterated this message repeatedly on Twitter as well, diverting blame to the Archdiocese of Newark which owns and administers the university. Archdiocesan spokesperson Jim Goodness said removing Hal was a standard transfer, reports NorthJersey.com. Goodness provided no further details, however, as to why or where the priest was being reassigned.
The archbishop referenced above is the embattled John J. Myers, who has a strong anti-LGBT record. Seton Hall University previously denied a student LGBT group twice, and Myers personally criticized a campus course on the politics around marriage equality in 2010.
Hall’s termination comes just as the university is recruiting Derrick Gordon, the first openly gay Division I men’s basketball player. The former chaplain was a well-known support of campus athletics, speaking about his love of sports and their spiritual side in a University video released last year.
Hall’s removal as the head of campus ministry is the latest employment dispute around LGBT issues, but this case is the first known incident where a priest has been targeted.
In calling on students to act constructively for LGBT inclusion rather than be mired in anger, Hall is responding gracefully and revealing what a positive force he was on the campus. If this really is a case of reassignment, the Archdiocese of Newark should reassign him right back to Seton Hall.
For Bondings 2.0‘s full coverage of this story, and other LGBT-related church worker disputes, click the ‘Employment Issues‘ category to the right or here. You can click here to find a full listing of the almost 50 incidents since 2008 where church workers have lost their jobs over LGBT identity, same-sex marriages, or public support for equality.
–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry