Child Denied Admission to Catholic School Over Parents’ Same-Gender Union

Parishioners at a small Catholic community in Kansas are protesting after their parish’s elementary school denied admission to the young student of a same-gender couple.

Fr. Craig Maxim, the pastor at St. Ann Catholic Church in Prairie Village, Kansas, announced in an email to parishioners that the parish school had denied admission to a kindergarten-aged child based on the relationship status of the child’s parents. Maxim acknowledged that people’s concerns “come from a place of love and compassion for the family,” but fell back on the Archdiocese of Kansas City’s instructions. He explained in the email, reported CBS News:

“To summarize, the Archdiocese states that since same-sex unions are not in conformance with the Church’s teaching on sacramental marriage and these unions have no current ability to bring their relationship into conformity, the parents cannot model behaviors and attitudes consistent with the Church’s teachings. This creates a conflict for those children and what is experienced at home. It also could become a source of confusion for other school children. For these reasons, the Archdiocese advised against admission.”

Maxim concluded by stating his intentions to dialogue given his distress “over the division this sensitive and complex issue has caused within our school and church.”

More than 1,000 Catholics have signed a petition protesting the admissions denial, according to the Shawnee Mission Post. Addressed to Archbishop Joseph Naumann and the Archdiocese’s Superintendent, Kathy O’Hara, the petition stated:

“Respectfully, we believe that the decision to deny a child of God access to such a wonderful community and education, based on the notion that his or her parent’s union in not in accordance with the Church’s teaching in Sacramental marriage, lacks the compassion and mercy of Christ’s message. We ask you to consider the many ways that other modern marriages may be inconsistent with the Church’s teaching on Sacramental marriage (i.e. vasectomy, IVF, divorce, and remarriage without approved annulment). Further, St. Ann does accept non-Catholic children and families into our school. Presumably these families are not in marriages that are conformant to the teachings of the Church. We respectfully, ask you to consider why non-conformity to some of the Church’s teachings rise to the level of refusing admission to children, while others do not.”

Opining on the decision, the editorial board of the The Kansas City Star said discriminating against an LGBTQ couple was “playing favorites among sinners.” It wrote of the incident:

“Trust us: Kids of today are not confused by gay adults in the types of loving, mature relationships that lead parents to seek out the academic excellence — and yes, the moral instruction — offered by private Catholic schools. The same-sex parents turned down at St. Ann are thus far anonymous, and it’s quite possible that one or both of them could be lifelong Catholics. . .A private school can decide whom it wants to do business with. And a church’s members shouldn’t get to steer the ship away from liturgy and doctrine by popular vote. But so long as St. Ann Catholic School isn’t making surprise home checks for sacramental rectitude, how could anyone dispute that with this decision, it’s playing favorites among sinners?”

As is often the case, Catholics in the pews are standing firm against injustice. The petitioners are clear that such decisions target LGBTQ people unfairly and are unacceptable. Helpfully, the pastor seems willing to dialogue with the faithful who are concerned and hurting. Constructive progress can sometimes come from wounding situations like this incident. But will the petitioners be listened to in an archdiocese where the archbishop is on record supporting dangerous “ex-gay” therapies?

The situation at St. Ann is simple discrimination that, even if legally justified, is morally wrong. Archbishop Naumann should do what is right by apologizing to the family involved and to the wider community. Then the St. Ann community can open wide the school’s doors and echo Jesus’ inclusive words, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the [kin-dom] of heaven belongs.”

Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, March 8, 2019

9 replies
  1. Don E Siegal
    Don E Siegal says:

    Child Denied Admission to Catholic School Over Parents’ Same-Gender Union

    Not exactly the news that I wanted to wake up to this morning. However, it is once again encouraging that the way forward is being led by the laity of the parish. It is in fact from the leadership of lay persons that the queer community will ultimately obtain the equal justice that they seek from the Church. They know and understand Jesus’ gospel message. It is indeed the hierarchy that needs to learn from them instead of the other way around.

    On Ash Wednesday I attended a day of reflection at our local retreat center. The day concluded with mass and the distribution of ashes. I was asked to help with the latter. I used the words, “Repent and believe the gospel,” as I marked each forehead.

  2. Thomas Ellison
    Thomas Ellison says:

    Does the parish accept donations / money from this couple? Do they attend Mass at this parish ? Do they receive communion ? Apparently a gay couple can raise their profile only so much.

  3. Mary Jo
    Mary Jo says:

    The people in the pews are only “standing firm against injustice” if, when the archbishop’s decision stands, they then take their children out of this school. I’m guessing his decision will stand despite their protest. That’s when the people need to stand firm and show a real example of justice to their children by taking their children and their money out of the school and church.

  4. Poolgirl2
    Poolgirl2 says:

    It would appear that the only way to have the hierarchy listen is to remove resources and support from the church. The people of Memphis were effective in having a Bishop removed, not by petitions, letters, or complaints, but by refusing to contribute at previous levels. The hierarchy actually changed “The Bishop’s Appeal” to “The Annual Catholic Appeal” just before appointing s new bishop. The power of the pocketbook speaks loudest.
    Shame on the church for “judging” and not supporting those who ask for help. My parents raised 8 of us and kept us in Catholic schools. They were unable to marry “in the Church” because my mom had been married at 17 for less than 2 years before she married my dad. Her ex refused to sign the annulment papers. We were always treated a little different because my mom was not Catholic and we were from an invalid Union. She was denied Baptism unless she left my Dad! How ludicrous is that? When her ex died my parents were married “in the Church” on their 30th anniversary and remained married until their deaths over 30 years later!
    Jesus weeps as injustice continues today.

  5. Robert Takac
    Robert Takac says:

    What does this type of behavior say about us as Catholics, and what message does it send to the rest of the world, other than the fact that we are acting in a non Christ-like manner, and feel that it is our vocation to judge the other faithful, in a non-faithful world? This saddens me, and I wish that the Catholic Church in Kansas was focusing their energy on welcoming our brothers and sisters and the marginalized instead of selectively trying to cast them out because of your own ignorance, incapacity, or hatred.

  6. Fr. Paul Morrissey
    Fr. Paul Morrissey says:

    Oh my, how revealing of the Gospel story played out before our eyes, including the wonderful “Let the little children come to me…” quote of yours at the conclusion.
    Bravo for New Ways Ministry’s prophetic light shining for us into the future.

  7. M. Theophane Young
    M. Theophane Young says:

    Punishing the chilfren for the supposed “sins” of their parents is not ,Christ’s ,way, and he has clearly told us so. The bishop and his people perhaps need to do their homework better, to make sure that what they are saying and doing is not contrary to what the Lord tells us in the Scriptures. Otherwise they are part olthe reason fpr the c urrent decline of the Catholic Ch urch , especially among folks who are well educated and themselves know the Scripptures well. Half-baked, rule-based religion is, indeed, one of the things that Jesus Christ often condemned in his preaching mission.


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