Bishop backs Catholic school’s removal of teacher over pro-marriage Facebook comments: cites Pope Francis

SOMERVILLE, NJ, March 23, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A Catholic school has decided not to rehire a theology teacher who rejected the argument in favor of gay “marriage” on her private Facebook page, her family has announced.

The controversy began last week after a student found a Facebook post by Patricia Jannuzzi, a 57-year-old theology teacher at Immaculata High School in Somerville, New Jersey. In it, Jannuzzi said that advocates of redefining marriage argue that they “are born this way and it is not a choice, to get 14th amendment rights equal protection” – which was intended for “unchangeable characteristics such as race and disability.” Then, “they will argue everyone should be able to choose” to engage in the homosexual lifestyle.

The former student, Scott Lyons, a homosexual who says he is “married” to another man, posted a message branding Jannuzzi's views as “extreme.”

His aunt, actress Susan Sarandon, reposted it and it went viral, spawning a petition to the school administration on Change.org that “this kind of behavior needs to be stopped.”

Jannuzzi was placed on administrative leave in a letter signed by Monsignor Seamus Brennan and Principal Jean Kline.

On Friday, Bishop Paul G. Bootkoski of the Diocese of Metuchen issued a statement “to correct some misstatements with regard to the teacher in question,” adding that “ certain individuals and groups are using inaccurate media reports to push their own agendas.”

Jannuzzi's “comments were disturbing and do not reflect the Church’s teachings of acceptance," he wrote. “Pope Francis reminds us that we are to accept all of our brethren. We must ensure that our educators steer away from harsh and judgmental statements that can alienate and divide us.”

He said that Jannuzzi “has never been terminated, as some media outlets have reported. She has been put on administrative leave. There has been no interruption in her pay and benefits.”

However, her family revealed that, while the diocese has not canceled this year's teaching contract, the school will not extend another contract to teach in the 2015-2016 year.

“My mother was informed by her lawyer that she will be on administrative leave receiving salary and benefits until August, but will not be rehired to teach this September 2015,” her family announced on a website dedicated to raising funds for Jannuzzi. “Our fears have been confirmed!”

LifeSiteNews.com has made repeated attempts since Friday morning to contact the diocese to ask if Jannuzzi will have a job after her contract runs out in August, and to ask what specific aspect of her comments Bishop Bootkoski found to be “disturbing” or “harsh.”

The diocese has not returned any of our messages.

Rod Dreher wrote at The American Conservative that “the bishop may have technically been telling the truth in his statement, but it will have been extremely misleading (and that’s putting in charitably).”

He called it “a very important moment for the Catholic Church in America.”

“This is — or rather, will be, if Jannuzzi is not rehired this fall — a Catholic school that answers to a Catholic bishop canning a Catholic teacher for holding Catholic opinions that run contrary to the spirit of the age. And it will have been carried out by a Catholic bishop who is more afraid of mouthy celebrities than he is loyal to his people or his principles,” Dreher wrote. “This is not a culture war outside the Catholic Church. This culture war is taking place within it. And not all the bishops are on the same side.”

Contact: 

Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect
Congregation for Bishops
Palazzo della Congregazioni, 00193 Roma, Piazza Pio XII, 10
Telephone: 06.69.88.42.17
Fax: 06.69.88.53.03

Most Reverend Paul G. Bootkoski, DD
Diocese of Metuchen
146 Metlars Lane
Piscataway, NJ 08854
(732) 562-1990 ext. 1711
bishop@diometuchen.org

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Ben Johnson is U.S. Bureau Chief of LifeSiteNews.com, the guest host of Nothing But Truth with Crane Durhamon AFR Talk Radio, and the author of three books. His personal website is TheRightsWriter.com. Connect with him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

(Published on Monday, March 23, 2015, on LifeSiteNews.com.)