Open letter to Archbishop Schnurr

Editor’s Note: While we staff find some grievous factual errors in this letter that need correction, its spirit of solidarity is something we find commendable and worthy of attention from those who live in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.  Here are some clarifications: Xavier University and the Archdiocese of Cincinnati are distinct entities legally, according to canon and civil law.  As an institution run by the Society of Jesus, Xavier is not under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese.  The Archdiocese of Cincinnati is not threatening to “fire all openly gay teachers and administrators.”  Rather, the new contract for teachers – who are now referred to as “teacher-ministers,” a term that is legally dubious – ambiguously states that each “Teacher-Minister also agrees to exemplify Catholic principles and to refrain from any conduct or lifestyle which would reflect discredit on or cause scandal to the School or be in contradiction to Catholic doctrine or morals.  Such conduct or lifestyle that is in contradiction to Catholic doctrine or morals includes…public support of or homosexual lifestyle.”

Are you there, Archdiocese of Cincinnati? It’s me, Andrew Short. I’m a graduate of Bishop Leibold Elementary School, Archbishop Alter High School and Xavier University. My brother attended these schools, as did my sister, except she’s about to graduate from Loyola University in Chicago. Every school I attended operates under the umbrella of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

Considering my family has spent a tremendous amount of time and money in your archdiocese, I feel you owe it to me to hear me out. I’d like to talk about your most recent proclamation — the threat to fire all openly gay teachers and administrators. Let’s get started.

Unfortunately I won’t be able to name names of the friends, teachers and administrators who identify as homosexual and work for your organization for fear they will be fired, so you’re going to have to take my word for it.

These are friends who went through school with me, supported me, sat next to me in class and enriched my life by sharing their lives with me.

These are teachers who taught me to think critically, to love others without question, to examine social issues and become a man for others. They also taught me how to write.

These are administrators who bring in a tremendous amount of money to your archdiocese, especially at Xavier University. And with your most recent declaration, you’re establishing a culture of fear for young gay students.

You’re threatening to fire teachers who work for almost nothing because they’re committed to bettering the lives of children. You’re bleeding your own accounts dry by threatening to terminate administrators.

How tremendously un-Christian. “Blessed are the meek,” indeed. The Beatitudes, by the way, are found in two of the four Gospels. Homosexuality isn’t mentioned once in any of the Gospels.

I could go on for hours on how unconscionable it is to threaten homosexual adults who serve your archdiocese. However, my biggest concern is the culture of fear and shame that you’re creating for young gay kids.

Put yourself in the situation of a young boy or girl who is gay. Could you imagine how it would feel to be afraid to talk to a teacher or advocate about it in your own school?

Have you considered the culture of bullying this will create by empowering young frustrated kids to act out their anger on gay students and ridicule them as the archdiocese gives them a pass by institutionalizing the horrible idea that homosexuality is both wrong and punishable?

Can you put yourself in the position of parents who send their gay son or daughter to school every day, knowing they have no one to talk to, that they’re all on their own, that they will be mocked and teased? Can you consider the heartache of a mother watching her gay son or daughter boarding a school bus to go to a Catholic school where they will most certainly be tormented? Have you no decency?

Teachers aren’t handing out pro-gay picket signs in class. Children aren’t being excused from class to participate in gay pride rallies. For the life of me, I cannot comprehend the motivation of your draconian decree.

Your institutionalized lack of sympathy is baffling, especially considering that you claim to be a Catholic institution. Gandhi said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” How shameful that this applies to an entire archdiocese.

Do you really think creating an unsafe space for children is a good play for your archdiocese right now? You know, all things considered?

You cannot continue to operate like this in the advent of the internet. This issue has garnered national attention and people are outraged. Quite frankly, I’m embarrassed to be associated with you in any capacity. You’re persecuting the persecuted. Your schools taught me that is not okay, so I am speaking out. You’re teaching children that being gay isn’t just wrong, it’s punishable. That is particularly disgusting, coming from an institution built on works of a man who ate with sinners and prostitutes.

By silencing sympathetic dialogue about homosexuality, by holding the threat of job termination over the heads of gay teachers and administrators, you’re just barely falling short of echoing the late Fred Phelps’ infamous slogan “God hates fags.”

It is up to you to determine on which side of history you will fall. Choose wisely. That is, if you honestly believe your organization’s current approach of persecuting marginalized members of society will allow it to survive in the contemporary world. Which I assure you, it will not.


Andrew Short