Wife of Fired Teacher Appeals to Pope Francis for Reinstatement

The wife of Margie Winters, who was fired from a Philadelphia-area Catholic elementary school because of her marriage, is appealing to Pope Francis to rectify the injustice that the former director of religious education experienced from the school’s administration.

Margie Winters and Andrea Vettori

The New York Daily News reported that Andrea Vettori sent a letter to the pontiff in which she appealed to him to reinstate her wife, Margie, to the job she held at Waldron Mercy Academy for eight years.  The news article quoted excerpts from the letter:

“I ask you, I beg you, I implore you to ask God to reveal to you the next steps. Not just for Margie and myself, but for the injustices that have been done in the name of our faith against gay and lesbian members of the Church throughout the United States and the world whose only ‘sin’ was to be true to the love God placed within them.”

The entire text of Vettori’s three-page letter can be found at the end of the Daily News article.   In it, she describes the couple’s faith life, relational commitment, and community involvement, noting that one is a lay Associate and one is a Companion of the Sisters of Mercy who operate the school. Indeed, the letter states that it was their involvement with the Mercy Sisters where

“we fell in love–with God, with our sisters, with one another.”

Vettori pleaded with Pope Francis

“to intervene on our behalf and countless other faithful Catholics so that we may not be condemned to live a life exiled from a Church that we so love and want to serve.”

In conclusion, she asked for the pope to allow the couple to meet with him when he visits Philadelphia at the end of September for the closing of the World Meeting of Families.

Meanwhile,  responses to the Winters’ firing have begun to proliferate.  An online GoFundMe appeal with a goal or raising $25,000 has raised $9,000 already.  In addition to the Stand With Margie Facebook page, a Twitter hashtag, #StandWithMargie, has been established.

Philly.com reported that more than 200 parents from the school met this past week to show support and gratitude for Winters and to discuss ways to respond effectively.  The news article also states that it was a disagreement with a parent about whether to teach Pope John Paul’s “Theology of the Body” to the elementary school students.  While the parent proposed this work, Winters felt that it was too mature for younger children, and in fact the principal agreed with her.

Weighing in on the firing was Benjamin Brenkert, who last year resigned from the Jesuits to protest the unjust firings of LGBT people from Catholic institutions.  In a Daily Beast essay which explores some of the philosophical assumptions of magisterial teaching on sexuality, Brenkert said that in firing Winters, the school was

“unequivocally informing LGBTQ persons that they cannot under any circumstances contribute to the spiritual or intellectual formation of children.”

Additionally, the Human Rights Campaign spoke out in support of Winters.  Lisbeth Melendez-Rivera, director of Latino/a and Catholic Initiatives stated:

“We call on the school to reinstate Margie Winters, and look to the day when Catholic leaders like [Archbishop] Chaput have the strength and courage to embrace our lives, to allow us to earn an honest living, and to participate in the education of our children.For guidance, [Archbishop] Chaput should look to the pews, where there’s more support for LGBT non-discrimination laws and marriage equality than even among the general public.”

As these cases multiply and become more frequent, church leaders will soon have to see how, just on a practical level, this policy is unsustainable.  Instead of increasing love and justice, these firings cause people to become further alienated from Catholic Church structures.

In their efforts to promote a narrow vision of church teaching, focused solely on sexuality, Catholic leaders are forgetting the wider picture of the love and justice which the church should be promoting.

In the words of Andrea Vettori in her letter to Pope Francis:

“Jesus said ‘you will know my disciples by the fruit.’ I would say look at the fruit of our lives.”

For the recent history of this terrible trend of firing, click here for Bondings 2.0’s chronicle.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


Related articles:

NBC Philadelphia: “Community Rallies Behind Beloved Educator Fired for Same-Sex Marriage”

Patch.com: “Supporters Of Fired Gay Catholic School Teacher Raise $5K”

EzzcoNews.com: “Philadelphia educator, fired from Catholic school because she’s gay, appeals to Pope Francis for audience during his upcoming visit to the City of Brotherly Love”

11 replies
  1. Bishop Carlos Florido, osf
    Bishop Carlos Florido, osf says:

    A letter that is theologically, psychologically, intellectually and humanely sound. I wonder if Pope Francis will intervene. I truly hope he does.

  2. Friends
    Friends says:

    Indeed, the ladies’ eloquent presentation — and that of their supporters who have sophisticated theological training — is a phenomenal slam dunk. It’s really down upon Pope Francis to GET — and respond to — the primacy of caritas in Christian relationships and life commitment. As for the news that just one ultra-conservative parent can sabotage the pedagogical practice of the school: so who made HER the sovereign boss of the school’s own professional administrators? The administrators appear to be spineless and easily intimidated. The school appears to need a management renovation — if not an outright management revolution. Let’s hope and pray that Pope Francis himself is moved by the Holy Spirit to make a statement of support — precisely BECAUSE of the primacy of caritas and social justice in Christian life and practice.

  3. Susan Abel
    Susan Abel says:

    I don’t have a problem with the letter. Will we see a response? I would love to see the pastoral Pope Francis teach. To teach the truths of the faith is God’s mercy not judgment; is true charity. If not the pope, how about a bishop or her local pastor?

  4. Michael B Kelly
    Michael B Kelly says:

    Ok. NWM we need some kind of crowd sourcing process here, like Change.org or some simple mechanism whereby tens of thousands of people can sign up easily and simply to support a public appeal backing this letter and appealing to the pope. We also need a campaign by priests and religious and religious orders supporting this woman. This is a text book case. We could not ask for a clearer reason to act. The pope is coming to the USA. The synod is coming. Gay marriage has just passed into law. This needs a major international Internet campaign – at least calling on the pope to meet these women. Imagine delivering a petition signed by tens or even hundreds of thousands of people to the nuncio’s office or to the Vatican. Get Equally Blessed on board, Dignity, Soulforce NCR, NCAN, CTA, ILGA, HRC and the European groups all on board. This could be a profoundly significant step forward. You can do this.

  5. Paul
    Paul says:

    I too hope Pope Francis supports this wonderful teacher…and shows more support for the LGBT community in general!


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Blessed pilgrims to the World Meeting of Families would love to meet with him.  Fired teacher Margie Winters and her wife Andrea deVettori have requested a meeting with the pope.  And David Gibson, writing about LGBT people’s […]

  2. […] the church worker disputes specifically were sent from fired gay priest Fr. Warren Hall and Andrea Vettori, wife of fired Philadelphia-area educator Margie […]

  3. […] have withdrawn their children or are withholding tuition. Winters’ wife, Andrea Vittori, appealed to Pope Francis in a letter last month, and the fired teacher added her own hopes that Pope Francis would meet […]

  4. […] wife, Andrea Vettori, who wrote a letter to Pope Francis about the incident, is among those Catholics who cannot understand the Waldron Mercy’s […]

  5. […] have expressed their widespread disagreement with the discriminatory act. Winters’ wife has written to Pope Francis […]

  6. […] wife, Andrea, will be right there in Philadelphia when the pope comes there in September, and have already requested that he meet with […]

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