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Saturday, September 27, 2003

Ky. diocese followed rules



This letter is a clarification of recently published and broadcast news stories regarding a recent employment situation at St. Joseph School in Crescent Springs.

From our perspective, the issue is that Catholic teachers who were previously married may not remarry without an annulment from the previous marriage. The Catholic faith does not recognize such remarriages. This is not a new rule or recent teaching of the Church, nor is the "grave offense against Catholic doctrine or morality" provision new to diocesan teacher contracts.

After a thorough investigation of the facts in this case, we concluded that the employment of Mrs. Angel Meacham could not go forward because of these very clear teachings of the Roman Catholic Church with regard to the sacrament of Holy Matrimony. When such matters come to our attention, we have an obligation to uphold church teachings and diocesan policies.

As ministers and servants in the mission of Catholic education, all of our Catholic employees have a serious obligation to follow and live the teachings and beliefs of our 2,000-year-old Christian tradition. The Bishop and all those with whom he shares his authority - pastor, diocesan-level administrator, principal, teacher - share in that obligation.

We presume that all who proclaim themselves Catholics, including those who stand before our students in our schools, abide by the teaching authority of the Catholic Church. The diocese does not have a practice of investigating people's private lives and does not intend to do so. However, when we are presented with a contrary situation, we must investigate and take appropriate action.

Non-Catholic teachers are welcomed in our schools. As professional educators serving our students, they are expected to respect Catholic beliefs, not teach anything contrary to Catholic doctrine and conduct their lives as good morals and good citizenship.

We believe this situation was handled in a manner sensitive to the needs of all parties. Specifically, both sides agreed on a way to resolve the matter, a resolution which included a confidential monetary component, fairly given in generous consideration of her many years of service and her qualities as a good person and excellent teacher. Mrs. Meacham was not left without a means of income or making a living.

We also wish to confirm the written statement of Dr. Lawrence Bowman, diocesan Director for Catholic Education, to her and some concerned parents that Mrs. Meacham will be eligible to reapply for a teaching position in a Catholic school once the annulment has been granted and her marriage validated by the Church.

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Timothy Fitzgerald, Spokesperson, Communications Office, Diocese of Covington




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