Remarkably, we at Bondings 2.0 are routinely inundated with how much Catholic LGBTQ news, opinion, and spirituality there is to cover. Here are a few updates that we did not get to in 2019:
Camden Catholic Fires Lesbian Coach After Her Engagement
News broke this year that in 2016, Camden Catholic High School, New Jersey, is alleged to have fired lesbian softball coach Jillian Mulderig after her engagement to another woman became known to school officials. NJ.com reported:
“Jillian Mulderig had been softball coach at Camden Catholic for two seasons and the team had made the playoffs both years, she said, with Mulderig earning a sportsmanship award along the way.
Mulderig, who did not teach at the school, said she never imagined the meeting with [school president Mary] Whipkey, [athletic director Derrick] Levine and principal Heather Crisci would have a negative tone. But she says it began with Whipkey and Crisci ‘interrogating me as if I was a criminal’ over a recording of Mulderig proposing to her girlfriend that had been posted to YouTube.
“By the end of the meeting, Mulderig said she was told the school needed to ‘part ways’ with her because she intended to marry a woman. The school knew Mulderig was gay when it hired her, she said, but marrying her partner would pose an irreparable problem.
“‘I remember feeling so nauseous,’ Mulderig said. ‘I was just appalled.'”
Mulderig was, at her request, granted a letter from Whipkey stating that the softball coach was not fired based on her abilities as a coach. She has since found other employment.
Paramus Catholic Settles with Fired Church Worker
Paramus Catholic High School and the Archdiocese of Newark settled with a former employee who sued them over claims she was fired as the dean of guidance and girls basketball coach in 2016 because of her 2014 same-gender marriage. NorthJersey.com reported on the lawsuit of Kate Drumgoole, who was also an alum of Paramus Catholic, New Jersey. Both she and the defendants refused to comment about the settlement, and Drumgoole has worked elsewhere for at least two years.
This firing raised questions about the leadership of Cardinal Joseph Tobin, who inherited the employment dispute from his conservative predecessor Archbishop John Myers. The cardinal has not commented on the dispute, but Francis DeBernardo of New Ways Ministry suggested Tobin’s actions which are a “balancing act of being pastoral while not taking strong political stands” are not “empty,” but rather are “first steps.” DeBernardo said the situation for church workers generally, however, is “dire.”
Catholic Sister Becomes Mother of HIV-Positive Child
On World AIDS Day earlier this month, a blog produced by the Sisters of Mercy featured the story of Sr. Mary Ann LoGiudice whose her daughter, Barbara, who died of AIDS LoGiudice came to be Barbara’s adopted mother after no one would adopt the child, who was being cared for at a Catholic Charities agency in New York, because of her HIV status. The blog reports:
“Not only did the Sisters of Mercy—after much discussion and prayer—allow Sister Mary Ann to become Barbara’s foster mother and then her adoptive mother, but support also came from Bishop Howard Hubbard, numerous priests, sisters and lay staff, and nearly everyone else who learned of Sister Mary Ann and Barbara’s mutual need.
“For five years, until Barbara’s death on June 19, 1993, Sister Mary Ann and Barbara were a family. At first, says Mary Ann, ‘it was a real shock’ to have complete responsibility for a child. She notes, laughing, ‘Barbara taught me a lot of wonderful lessons in her short life. One of the immediate ones was a deeper understanding of all the young women I worked with at Community Maternity Services, who were young parents and didn’t have the kind of support I had.'”
In related news, LGBT+ Catholics Westminster held its annual World AIDS Mass to commemorate the day.
Out Magazine reported that an investment firm in which the Vatican owns a majority stake helped fund Rocketman, the biopic about Elton John which made headlines for a same-gender sex scene. The ties between the Vatican’s finances and the film were part of larger revelations about potential misuses of Peter’s Pence, an annual global collection donated directly to the Vatican.
La Croix International reported that Fr. Philip Bochanski, the executive director of Courage International, was given the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice award for distinguished service to the church and to the pope. Courage has been criticized by many Catholic LGBTQ advocates for its harmful approach to gender and sexuality.
National Catholic Reporter columnist Jocelyn Sideco wrote about prayer as a means of imagining the inclusion of gay people in the church and what the implications of such imagining could be.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, December 28, 2019