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Will a Catholic School Fire a Theology Teacher for “Anti-Gay” Remarks?

Matt Sayles/Invision/AP

Mark Stricherz - published on 03/24/15 - updated on 06/08/17

Actress Susan Sarandon's post invited media scrutiny of the Catholic teacher

The future of a high school theology teacher suspended for public comments about gays and traditional marriage is in doubt. An online petition for Patricia Jannuzzi has sought donations for her family’s bills while her bishop released a statement that addressed only her previous and present job status.

An online petition on said it represented Jannuzzi’s family. According to the petition, Januzzi’s lawyer told the teacher that her contract will not be renewed for the 2015-16 school year.  The update followed a message in which Jannuzzi’s children said the teacher needs health benefits because she had breast cancer:

Our family is in danger of losing our health benefits. Our mother has recently and successfully battled breast cancer without missing a single day of teaching, except for the day of her operation. Health benefits are important to our family.

In addition, we have home, insurance, automobile and many other family expenses including educational expenses for two teenage sons. (One in college, one in high school.)

Our mother is 57, and hoped to teach until retirement at 65. Due to the overwhelming attacks in the media on her statement of Catholic faith, we do not believe she will be able to find another teaching position. Her salary & benefits total: $75,500 a year. Given her age, we are hoping to raise 100,000 [sic] for now towards our family’s basic family support.

On March 20, Bishop Paul G. Bootkoski released a statement that did address her future status at Immaculata High School in Somerville, New Jersey. The bishop did address the remarks that some interpreted as demeaning to gays, however:

We are a compassionate Catholic community committed to treating our students, faculty and parishioners with respect. We have never wavered from our traditional Catholic teachings.

To that end we need to correct some misstatements with regard to the teacher in question.

The teacher’s comments were disturbing and do not reflect the Church’s teachings of acceptance. However, she has never been terminated, as some media outlets have reported. She has been put on administrative leave. There has been no interruption in her pay and benefits.

Pope Francis reminds us that we are to accept all of our brethren. We must ensure that our educators steer away from harsh and judgmental statements that can alienate and divide us.

We regret that certain individuals and groups are using inaccurate media reports to push their own agendas.

Jannuzzi is under fire for responding to public remarks that progressive Dan Savage made about Dr. Ben Carson. 
Savage asked Carson to prove that gays choose their orientation and disparaged Carson in a blog post. Januzzi criticized gays and gay activists for comparing their cause with blacks and defended the traditional family. "See this is the agenda … one minute they argue they are born this way and it is not a choice to get 14th amendment rights equal protection … bologna …We need health families with a mother and a father for the sake of the children and humanity!!!!" Jannuzzi wrote.

Then, Jannuzzi’s post went viral. Greg Bennett, a former student at Immaculata and a former television actor on “The Real Housewives of New Jersey,” condemned Jannuzzi’s remarks as hateful. Bennett’s aunt, actress Susan Sarandon, praised him for his comments.

A spokeswoman for Bishop Bootkoski did not return two voicemails for comment by press time.

EducationHomosexualityPope Francis
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