Flint Dollar, the gay Macon band director who was fired from his job at Mount de Sales Academy last week due to his impending marriage, is among the group of teachers who have written a letter to the Vatican requesting a meeting with Pope Francis. All nine teachers who signed the letter lost their jobs at Catholic schools for being LGBT or supporting an LGBT person. The letter was delivered to the Vatican by the Human Rights Campaign.
“We write to you today with humility to request a Papal audience. With loving eloquence you have explained that the role of the Church is to restore what is broken and unite what has been divided. In this spirit of wholeness and reconciliation, we hope you will agree to meet with us and our families to hear our stories.”
After explaining what has happened to them, the teachers talk about “the sacred dignity of work”:
“All of us are called to lovingly serve one another. The founder of the Society of Jesus, Saint Ignatius of Loyola teaches us “love is shown more in deeds than in words.” Yet how are we to fulfill the words of St. Ignatius if we are barred from showing our love through our deeds? We are eager and willing to do the work of educating our youth, yet we have been denied the opportunity to do so by the very Church that has instilled in us an understanding of the sacred dignity of work. Rather than evaluating our abilities based on our job performance, the Church has instead turned a blind eye to its own founding values and denied those who would lovingly serve an opportunity to do so.”
They end the letter by talking about the Catholic Church’s rejection of LGBT families, the pain this has caused them and a plea for a meeting:
“All of us were fired for whom we love – whether it be for committing ourselves to one person, and one person only, for the rest of our lives, or for embracing and supporting our own children unconditionally. Love is one of the greatest gifts God bestows upon us, and we can think of nothing more sacred than loving another human being through challenges, sicknesses and times of distress. The Church celebrates this type of sacred commitment. But for some reason, it rejects that same commitment when it’s between loving LGBT people. For some reason, it rejects that love when a mother embraces her LGBT child.
Our families are hurting. We feel scorned by our church, which we have dedicated our lives to. From coaching sports teams, to leading canned food drives, to going to Church every single Sunday – we feel abandoned by the Catholic Church. We know God has not abandoned us. Our friends, loved ones, and many others in our community have not abandoned us. But we feel the hierarchy of our Church is denying us the pastoral care and love they are called to do.
We take hope from your messages of acceptance and see in your pastoral leadership the possibility for the Church to correct these hurtful injustices. We ask for a Papal audience with our families, so that you may hear our personal stories firsthand and see the impact the Church’s actions have had on us all.”