INDIANAPOLIS — Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School says the Archdiocese of Indianapolis is no longer going to recognize them as a Catholic school, likely because of their refusal to fire a teacher who in a same-sex marriage.
The Board of Trustees for Brebeuf shared the announcement in a letter to the parents, teachers and staff on Thursday, saying they were informed that the "formal decree" would be announced by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis in the Criterion on or around Friday, June 21.
"Brebeuf Jesuit was founded in 1962 as an independent Catholic Jesuit school," the letter to the Brebeuf Community said. "While we’ve enjoyed a collaborative partnership with the Archdiocese for nearly 57 years, we have always maintained control of our school’s operations and governance, including our personnel decisions."
Brebeuf says the decree comes after school leaders and the Archdiocese were in disagreement regarding whether the Archdiocese had the final say in staff matters, including employment status.
"Specifically, Brebeuf Jesuit has respectfully declined the Archdiocese’s insistence and directive that we dismiss a highly capable and qualified teacher due to the teacher being a spouse within a civilly-recognized same-sex marriage," the letter said.
"To our knowledge, the Archdiocese of Indianapolis’ direct insertion into an employment matter of a school governed by a religious order is unprecedented; this is a unique action among the more than 80 Jesuit secondary/pre-secondary schools which operate in dioceses throughout North America, along with the countless Catholic schools operated by other religious orders such as the Christian Brothers, Dominicans, and Xaverian Brothers. "
Brebeuf says the Archdiocese's decision will not change their identity and they plan to continue to serve as a Catholic school in the Indianapolis community.
"Whereas the Archdiocese of Indianapolis may choose to no longer attend or participate in the school’s Masses and formal functions, Brebeuf Jesuit is, and will always be, a Catholic Jesuit school. The Archdiocese has assured us that Jesuit priests may continue to serve at Brebeuf Jesuit and will retain their ability to celebrate the sacraments of the Catholic Church."
The Archdiocese of Indianapolis issued the following response to Brebeuf's letter Thursday afternoon:
"The Catholic Church teaches that Catholic schools are integral to the mission of the Church to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ and to be places of learning where students encounter the living Christ.
All those who minister in Catholic educational institutions carry out an important ministry in communicating the fullness of Catholic teaching to students both by word and action inside and outside the classroom. It is their duty and privilege to ensure that students receive instruction in Catholic doctrine and practice. To effectively bear witness to Christ, whether they teach religion or not, all ministers in their professional and private lives must convey and be supportive of Catholic Church teaching. The Archdiocese of Indianapolis recognizes all teachers, guidance counselors and administrators as ministers. A comprehensive description of Catholic Church teaching can be found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
In the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, every archdiocesan Catholic school and private Catholic school has been instructed to clearly state in its contracts and ministerial job descriptions that all ministers must convey and be supportive of all teachings of the Catholic Church.
Regrettably, Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School has freely chosen not to enter into such agreements that protect the important ministry of communicating the fullness of Catholic teaching to students. Therefore, Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School will no longer be recognized as a Catholic institution by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. The attached decree is effective as of
June 21, 2019."
Whereas, the undersigned and officials of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis have been in extensive dialogue with the President and Board of Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School on whether or not Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School was willing to remain as a recognized Catholic institution by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis; and,
Whereas, I accept and respect a school’s right and responsibility to make decisions that result in such a determination; and,
Whereas, it is my canonical responsibility to oversee faith and morals as related to Catholic identity within the Archdiocese of Indianapolis; and,
Whereas, Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School has chosen not to implement changes in accord with the doctrine and pastoral practice of the Catholic Church;
I, the Most Reverend Charles C. Thompson, D.D., J.C.L., with great sadness, acknowledge the choice of Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School to no longer retain Catholic identity according to the doctrine and pastoral practice of the Catholic Church and, therefore, to no longer remain as a Catholic institution in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. Therefore, in accord with canon 803 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, I hereby decree that:
The institution known as Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School (2801 W. 86th St., Indianapolis, IN 46268), by its own selection, can no longer use the name Catholic and will no longer be identified or recognized as a Catholic institution by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis nor included in the listing of The Official Catholic Directory.
This decree is effective immediately and will remain in effect until such a time as Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School demonstrates their desire to operate in accord with the doctrine and pastoral practice of the Catholic Church. This decree is subject to hierarchical recourse according to the provisions of canons 1734 and following.
Given this 21st day of June 2019
at the Office of the Archbishop
The Most Reverend Charles C. Thompson, D.D., J.C.L.
Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis