CATHOLIC ACTION LEAGUE CRITICIZES SETTLEMENT IN MATTHEW BARRETT V. FONTBONNE ACADEMY
The Catholic Action League of Massachusetts today criticized the decision of Fontbonne Academy in Milton, the Catholic secondary school administered by the Sisters of Saint Joseph, to reach a legal settlement with Matthew Barrett, who was declined for the position of Food Services Director at the school after he lied in a job interview, and then revealed he had entered into a same gender civil ‘marriage.’
In a July 9, 2013 interview at Fontbonne, Barrett—who had previously worked in the Milton Public Schools—responded affirmatively when told that all school employees were considered “ministers of the mission,” and that he would be expected to model Catholic teachings and values. He then listed on an emergency contact form his so-called ‘husband.’
When refused the position, Barrett sued the school for gender and sexual orientation discrimination in employment, and was represented by the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, (GLAAD).
In a December 16, 2015 decision for the plaintiff, Norfolk Superior Court Associate Justice Douglas H. Wilkins ruled that the Catholic school enjoyed no constitutional protections in this matter, and that neither the ministerial exception, nor the religious exemption to the 1989 Massachusetts “Gay Rights” law applied.
Fontbonne failed to appeal the decision, allowing it to stand, and, as part of the settlement, financially compensated Barrett.
The Catholic Action League called the school’s surrender “an act of appeasement which will have chilling implications for the religious freedom rights of Catholic institutions.”
Catholic Action League Executive Director C. J. Doyle commented: “If left unchallenged, this ruling will coerce Catholic institutions, in Massachusetts, at least, to hire those who not only reject Catholic moral teachings, but who believe those teachings to be bigotry, hatred and homophobia.”
“More disturbingly, Judge Wilkins, in his decision, asserted that the ministerial exception extended only to the school’s administration, chaplaincy, and faculty of theology. Catholic education, however, involves teaching philosophy, history, ethics, social science, political science, and languages from a Catholic perspective. Now, under threat of civil penalties, Catholic schools may be compelled to hire and pay those who repudiate and despise that perspective to instruct Catholic students.”
“Fontbonne’s decision is disappointing, but not surprising. For most Catholic preparatory schools, colleges and universities, fidelity to Catholic moral teachings comes in a distant third to institutional fundraising and fashionable, culturally conforming academic liberalism.
Nonetheless, the silence of the Archdiocese of Boston, the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Boston, and of Fontbonne Academy itself demonstrates an appalling lack of courage in the face of a calculated aggression against the constitutional rights of the Catholic community.”
“The time has come for Catholics to cease drawing artificial distinctions between sexual orientation and sexual behavior, and between sexual orientation and same sex ‘marriage.’ As Judge Wilkins has lucidly pointed out, such attempts at middle ground are no longer sustainable.”