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Parish Fires Gay Cantor: “Those who minister in the Church…are to support Church teaching and practice”

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 01/07/16

It happened recently in Maryland, in the Archdiocese of Washington. Details:

Jeffrey Higgins says he never thought his same-sex marriage would be a problem at his job. But on November 8, his marriage came up during a conversation that led to his termination from Mother Seton Catholic Church in Germantown, where he worked part-time as a cantor and choir member for 1.5 years. On November 8, Higgins, 29, says Pastor Lee Fangmeyer invited him to his office, asked him about his marriage, and then asked him if he’d resign. “I was shocked,” Higgins says. “He told me it had been discovered, that’s the word he used, that I was gay and married and would I resign. I told him I wouldn’t resign, that I liked my job, that I was good at my job, and I didn’t see the need to resign. He told me I’d been an asset to the music program at Mother Seton and that I’d be missed, but that I was terminated as of that moment.” Higgins told ABC7 News that a fellow parishioner allegedly saw him and his husband together in public and then found their wedding photos online and alerted the church. He says he didn’t broadcast his marriage while working at Mother Seton, but pointed out that he wears his wedding ring and filled out his tax paperwork saying he’s legally married. “Out of respect for people who disagree with me, I didn’t broadcast it loudly.” Higgins appealed the decision to terminate him to the Archdiocese of Washington and received a letter on December 7 from Auxiliary Bishop of Washington Barry Knestout. It says, “Those who minister in the name of the Church, whether paid or volunteer, share in the mission of the Church and therefore are to support Church teaching and practice. If someone chooses to live publicly in a manner that is incompatible with Church teaching, their continued work in ministry becomes untenable.” It also references that Higgins read and accepted a copy of the Archdiocese of Washington’s Employment Policies and Procedures when he accepted the position. Within that document, it says, “‘our employees must conduct themselves with integrity and act in a manner consistent with the official teachings, doctrines, laws and policies of the Roman Catholic Church. In addition to all other legal grounds for discipline, up to and including termination, employees may be disciplined or dismissed for conduct constituting serious public immorality, public scandal, or public repudiation of the teachings, doctrines, or laws of the Roman Catholic Church.'”

There’s much more. Read it all.

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