While Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone holds the line on the teaching of orthodox moral doctrines of the Catholic Church out in San Francisco, here in New Jersey a theology teacher in Immaculata High School in Somerville is threatened with dismissal from her position for . . . agreeing with orthodox moral doctrines of the Catholic Church.
Patricia Januzzi, the teacher in question, recently posted some remarks on same-sex marriage and homosexuality on her publicly accessible Facebook page. After remarking on the dubious proposition that protection of gays and lesbians as a class can be brought within the ambit of the Fourteenth Amendment, Januzzi wrote: “In other words they [advocates of same-sex marriage] want to reeingineer western civ into a slow extinction. We need healthy families with a mother and a father for the sake of the children and humanity!!!!”
Of course—of course—a firestorm erupted over this. Even (whatever happened to) Susan Sarandon weighed in with self-righteous condemnation (it seems her nephew once attended Immaculata). The principal of the school told Januzzi to take down her public Facebook page, which she did, and the school issued a statement a couple of days ago assuring the public that its “investigation” had “determined that the information posted on this social media page has not been reflected in the curriculum content of the classes [Januzzi] teaches.” Then followed the rote recitation of the gospel of “respect and sensitivity.” As stilted and impenetrable as all this was—Januzzi had not posted “information” but opinion, and what, after all, was the school telling us was not “reflected” in the classes it offers?—at least it seemed for one brief shining moment that this little flap would go away.
No such luck. Now it is reliably reported that Patricia Januzzi is under pressure to resign, and threatened with dismissal if she utters a peep about the matter. This is rapidly becoming an outrageous assault against a person whose worst offense was to speak with what some (but by no means all) would call an intemperate passion, in favor of the Church’s teaching.
If she is threatened with being fired for what she said, then her job is on the line because she is a devoted Catholic. If she is under the gun for how she said it—and the fact that the Sensitivity Police are offended by it—then she has lots of company, and in high places too.
Here is Pope Benedict XVI, in January 2012: “the family, based on the marriage of a man and a woman . . . is not a simple social convention, but rather the fundamental cell of every society. Consequently, policies which undermine the family threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself.”
Here is Pope Francis, as Cardinal Bergoglio in Argentina in 2010, when his nation’s legislature was considering a bill creating same-sex marriage: “Let us not be naive: this is not simply a political struggle, but it is an attempt to destroy God’s plan. It is not just a bill (a mere instrument) but a ‘move’ of the father of lies who seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.”
Yes, you know who the Father of Lies is. Cardinal Bergoglio was referring to the devil himself. So we have Francis calling same-sex marriage the work of the devil, and Benedict saying “the future of humanity itself” is at stake. But a high school theology teacher—in a Catholic school—who worries aloud about the fate of “western civ” if marriage is redefined, is unfit to remain a teacher there? Astounding.
Somerville lies in the Metuchen diocese, whose ordinary is Bishop Paul Bootkoski. Maybe someone can get him on the phone with Archbishop Cordileone in San Francisco for a fruitful conversation about how Catholic schools should shape their employment policies.