The Seattle Archdiocese today made its first public comments about the former Eastside Catholic vice principal who was terminated in December after school officials learned he had married his gay partner.
Spokesman Greg Magnoni said the archdiocese would “take into
consideration” the nearly 21,000 petition signatures of people from
around the world who are asking Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain and
the administration at Eastside Catholic High School to reassess their
position on homosexuality and gay marriage and end these kinds of
Until today, the archdiocese had remained silent on the matter,
pointing out that Eastside is an independent private school, affiliated
with the diocese but overseen by its own board of directors.
About 40 people marched to the archdiocese offices to deliver the
signatures, and in a move that surprised everyone, Magnoni agreed to
make himself available briefly for questions.
He repeated that the decision to dismiss Vice Principal Mark Zmuda
was not made by the archdiocese, but by the privately run school.
“To fulfill their mission, Catholic schools have a right to expect
school leaders not only pass on Catholic teachings, but model it,”
Magnoni said. “We have a responsibility to support Catholic schools in
their efforts to uphold their principles and their traditions.”
Catholic doctrine rejects same-sex marriage.
Magnoni told those gathered that Zmuda’s decision to marry presented
the school with myriad challenges.
“Ultimately, the school decided that
it had to be faithful to its mission as a Catholic school and the
archdiocese supports the school board and the administration in its
decision,” he said.
Asked if the archbishop would engage the students in a dialogue on this issue, he said, “We’ll take that under consideration.”
Zmuda’s termination triggered a sit-in by students at Eastside and
another Seattle Catholic school and has led to a series of rallies and
protests. Students at Eastside also presented the petition signatures
today to administrators at Eastside.
They, along with Eastside alumni and supporters of Zmuda, have vowed
to keep the pressure on.
“The year is 2014,” Corey Sinser, a 2006
graduate of Eastside wrote in a letter to Sartain that was presented
along with the signatures.
“It’s time to stop firing teachers for being gay.”