Saturday, September 27, 2003

Catholic teachers mostly disagree with Ky. firing



By Liz Oakes
The Cincinnati Enquirer

DOWNTOWN - A sampling of teachers attending a statewide convention of Catholic educators Friday mostly disagreed with the Diocese of Covington's decision to fire a parochial-school teacher who remarried without an annulment.

"I understand the reasoning for it, but I don't know if I agree with it," said Greg Bouman of Finneytown, who teaches at Mother of Mercy High School.

About 6,000 educators attended the Ohio Catholic Education Association convention at the Albert B. Sabin Cincinnati Convention Center.

Angel Meacham, who was a fifth-grade teacher at St. Joseph Elementary in Crescent Springs, was fired Aug. 12 after diocese officials learned that she had remarried in 2002 before receiving an annulment of her previous marriage.

"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," Tim Fitzgerald, spokesman for the Diocese of Covington, said in a statement. Meacham says she was surprised she was fired. "I didn't believe when it was going on I had done any grave moral offense and I still believe that," Meacham said Friday.

Bouman, who is not a Catholic himself, said he's heard other teachers talking about the firing.

"It was one more thing, on top of the sex abuse scandals, for people to be dissatisfied with the Catholic church," Bouman said.

In the statement, Fitzgerald said, "We believe this situation was handled in a manner sensitive to the needs of all parties."

According to his statement, Meacham was given a "confidential monetary component." Fitzgerald added in the statement, "Mrs. Meacham was not left without a means of income or making a living."

Gloria Goetz of Mack, who teaches sixth grade at Our Lady of Visitation School, said she doesn't worry about losing her job, but "I'm sure a lot of (teachers) do think about it. You're in a Catholic school; you're teaching values."

E-mail loakes@enquirer.com




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