Archbishop responds to controversy surrounding Roncalli guidance counselor's same-sex marriage

INDIANAPOLIS -- The leader of the Catholic Church in central and southern Indiana has responded to the controversy surrounding a guidance counselor at Roncalli High School publicly for the first time.

Roncalli guidance counselor Shelly Fitzgerald remains on paid administrative leave after she says someone sought out her marriage certificate, showing she is married to another woman and turned it into the school.

Roncalli officials previously defended their actions, saying school guidance counselors are expected to be role models and follow the teachings of the Catholic Church. 

READ | Roncalli president cancels board meeting where protests planned in support of counselor

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson published his thoughts on the controversy in the August 24 edition of the weekly Catholic newspaper, “The Criterion.”

“I regret the pain that has been caused by the recent controversy surrounding the employment of Shelly Fitzgerald,” The Archbishop’s letter begins.

TIMELINE | Roncalli LGBT Counselor Controversy

Archbishop Thompson says Fitzgerald’s employment is not about her sexual orientation but “about the Church’s teaching that marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman as established and revealed by God.”

“There is nothing in church teaching that says being gay or lesbian is a sin. God created each of us with equal dignity.”

MORE | Roncalli guidance counselor speaks out after she says she was asked to resign over same-sex marriage

He goes on to say that the while they must accept and love “persons with same-sex attraction,” the church must also uphold the “dignity and sanctity of marriage,” which he says is “ordered to the good of the couple and the procreation and education of children.”

The Archbishop says no one has a right to a ministerial position, but those who hold them must “lead by word and example,” which he says is clearly spelled out in the school’s job descriptions and contracts.

Fitzgerald's attorney, David Page, says he met with an attorney for the Archdiocese in Indianapolis last week in "an effort to begin a dialogue regarding the issues raised in this case." He calls the meeting the "first step" towards a discussion and possible resolution, although no decision was made. 

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