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The Sins of the Mother

January 6, 2012

A story from Ohio:

I’ve always wanted to have a baby,” said [Christa] Dias as she held her wish-come-true in her arms in their Withamsville home. ”I’ve always known that. That’s why I became a teacher, because I love kids.

”I didn’t think it would be a problem.”

But it was for her employers, Holy Family and St. Lawrence schools in East Price Hill, who fired Dias in October 2010 because the single woman was 5 1/2 months pregnant and wanted to discuss maternity leave. She is still unemployed.

She sued in April, accusing the schools of pregnancy discrimination and breach of contract. Her case, filed in the Cincinnati-based U.S. District Court, is on hold while the U.S. Supreme Court decides issues in another, similar case.

Dias was fired for being pregnant not from premarital sex, but as a result of artificial insemination.

For Dias, the case is about what she believes is a rigid religious institution that refuses to adapt to modern life punishing her for celebrating life with birth.

For the schools that hired and fired Dias, the issue is less about her beliefs and more about Dias keeping her legal promise.

”She has a right to her opinion, but she doesn’t have a right to violate her (employment) contract,” said Archdiocese of Cincinnati spokesman Dan Andriacco.

That contract calls for her to act and comply with Catholic teachings, including not participating in what the church calls the ”grave immoral” act of artificial insemination.

This story is interesting and depressing for a number of reasons, not least of which is that there are no good guys in this story.  Ms. Dias should not be praised for her choice of single-motherhood which seems more selfish than self-giving.  Simply loving children does not give her the “right” to purchase one.   And a little forethought might have suggested that her employer would not be happy.

The Archdiocese, however, seems vindictive in terminating her.  Their actions reveal the hollowness of our oft repeated claim that we (as Catholics) “love the sinner but hate the sin”:   it hardly seems to be consistent with being “pro-life” to deprive both mother and child of livelihood.        And did they spell this out to to Ms. Dias when she was hired, or was this one of dozens of unread clauses in an employment contract?

How far would the Archdiocese be willing to push this logic:  if the child was born before she applied for the job, would they refuse to hire the mother?  Will the child herself be invested with the sins of the mother?  This is not so far fetched:  some years ago I considered becoming a Franciscan Friar.  At a meeting, the vocations director informed all of us that one requirement was that we would have to submit our parents’ marriage certificate:  no bastards were welcome among the minores.

It seems to me that a better solution could have been to handle this privately:  reprimand the woman for being in violation of her contract, and place a letter in her file.  Warn her explicitly that further pregnancies would result in her termination.  While not perfect, this would come closer to serving both love and justice.

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58 Comments
  1. Liam permalink
    January 6, 2012 8:34 pm

    Brings to mind the famous story (covered by an early American Experience episode in its first season in 1989) of Emeline Bachelder Gurney (1816-1897) of Fayette, Maine:

  2. Melody permalink
    January 6, 2012 8:48 pm

    You said, “This story is interesting and depressing for a number of reasons, not least of which is that there are no good guys in this story.” Those are my thoughts, also. I doubt if Ms. Dias’ employer would have objected if she had channeled her maternal instincts into being a foster parent, or adopting a child with special needs. And I agree with you that A.I. is a selfish way to go about becoming a mother. However there does seem to be a bit of a double standard; they don’t even know if they employ any men who have been sperm donors. And the child is being punished along with the mother.
    I didn’t know that illegitimacy had been an impediment to ordination as recently as that. I knew it was in the past; I am thinking of a hundred years ago. I hope that the requirement of being born in wedlock has since been removed; this is really an instance of punishing the child for the deeds of the parents.

    • January 7, 2012 6:18 am

      I didn’t know that illegitimacy had been an impediment to ordination as recently as that. I knew it was in the past; I am thinking of a hundred years ago. I hope that the requirement of being born in wedlock has since been removed; this is really an instance of punishing the child for the deeds of the parents.

      The canonical impediment of “defect of birth” (i.e. being born out of wedlock; it sounds far less clinical in Latin, I assure you!) has not been in effect since the 1983 Code of Canon Law. Before then, it applied to the exercise of priesthood as well as to the holding of certain positions of authority in the Church. Interestingly, even before 1983, indeed since the Middle Ages, the impediment to ordination because of illegitimate birth did not apply to members of approved religious orders (although such persons might still be barred from holding certain offices, e.g. abbot). (Other resolutions included the subsequent marriage of the parents or a papal rescript.)

      So, while the OFMs (or whichever branch of the Franciscans) might have had their own policies when David considered entering their order re: those born to persons out of wedlock, at least in canon law, there would have been no impediment to (a) being professed in that community or (b) being subsequently ordained to the priesthood.

      • David Cruz-Uribe, SFO permalink*
        January 7, 2012 7:28 am

        Thank you for these details Dominic. I was told this in early 1985 by the OFMs. At the time, this province had the custom of ordaining all members of the community. So my best guess would be that the changes in the 1983 CIC had not trickled down to the “trenches” yet.

    • Peter Paul Fuchs permalink
      January 7, 2012 7:20 pm

      This canonical impediment must been seen historically as merely a part of the larger requirements for most priestly ordinations after Trent. That meant largely diocesan clergy, for the order waxed and waned, and sometimes disappeared or were suppressed. For those diocesan priests this canonical requirement only has meaning for pecuniary reasons which were made very explicit by Tridentine requirement. A bastard was often very likely to be poor, and this was the central issue. At Trent, even the most holy men were required to be excluded from holy orders if they did not have a monied benefice. The benefice often came through some family connection, either through inheritance in an indirect way, but of course not through entail. As the first born was far less likely to enter orders. Thus, illegitimacy was primarily bothersome for the church based on money, not morals.

      • January 9, 2012 4:11 am

        For what it’s worth, the canonical impediment here predates Trent by some 450 to 500 years, finding its first formal expression, so far as I know, in Pope Urban II near the end of the eleventh century, and from there to subsequent popes and ultimately to the Decretals. You may be right about the application of this penalty after Trent, but we cannot say that the impediment as such finds its origin in Tridentine Catholicism.

      • Peter Paul Fuchs permalink
        January 9, 2012 11:14 am

        Dominic,

        Well, that may be so, but only after Trent was it actually enforced in any way. One needs not descend to enumerating the sexual pecadilloes of clerics and their families, members of whom became sometimes famous princes of the Church, to make the point. The ironic confirmation of Burkean “unintended consequences” is that this effort at greater enforcement, meant no doubt to have a salutary moral effect, actually kept many virtuous men from Catholic orders and paved the path for another type who had the moolah.

  3. January 6, 2012 9:30 pm

    it hardly seems to be consistent with being “pro-life” to deprive both mother and child of livelihood.

    If that’s right, then you could never fire a woman who had kids, regardless of cause. That’s untenable.

    • David Cruz-Uribe, SFO permalink*
      January 7, 2012 7:33 am

      I think you are correct that this idea can be pushed to the point of absurdity. But in the particular situation we are dealing with, I think it is a valid point. The Archdiocese is enforcing the teaching on artificial insemination to uphold the sanctity of life, and is doing it by depriving a single mother and her child of livelihood. Don’t you see the contradiction there?

      • Kimberley permalink
        January 7, 2012 8:35 am

        Not at all. The church is not barring her from all employment, just employment with the Archdiocese. Her actions in willful defiance of church teaching made her ineligible.

      • David Cruz-Uribe, SFO permalink*
        January 7, 2012 1:23 pm

        So justice trumps mercy in this case?

  4. David Cruz-Uribe, SFO permalink*
    January 7, 2012 7:41 am

    Melody writes:

    “However there does seem to be a bit of a double standard; they don’t even know if they employ any men who have been sperm donors.”

    I think that the whole gender issue could be explored further in this situation. With regards to Church teaching, I would lay long odds that a significant percentage of the married faculty at both the schools (both Catholic and non-Catholic) use artificial birth control. But, as with sperm donation, these are not visible infractions. Ms. Dias could not hide her pregnancy (nor should she) and so was singled out. I imagine that her lawyers could have a field day with this.

    • Melody permalink
      January 7, 2012 9:17 am

      I supposed their reasoning was the bad example that it set. From the article which I read it was unclear if Ms. Dias would have lost her job if her pregnancy had been the result of premarital sex. As you say, the lawyers will probably be having fun with this. It is a murky area, as to how much an employer can dictate what someone can do in their personal life. I suppose it depends on how much the personal decisions would impact their effectiveness on the job. For instance, drug testing for a job applicant is pretty standard; and some industries (such as nuclear power plants) require random testing as a routine. But the difference here is that (a) drug use is illegal, and (b) can impact safety and one’s job performance. None of which applies in this case.
      Just as a sidebar to the whole artificial insemination thing; there are now organizations for people who want to know their biological father, or at least know his medical history. And also men who have realized that they have children out there whom they don’t know, or even know how many. A lot of the donors were college students who needed money, and sperm donation didn’t seem to them much different than plasma donation. And they realized too late that it was way different. With DNA testing the idea that “no one will ever know” is a thing of the past.

    • ctd permalink
      January 7, 2012 1:13 pm

      If a male teacher publicly acknowledged that he and his wife used artificial contraception or IVF then he probably would have faced the same actions.

      The mere fact that a woman cannot hide a pregnancy does not make it a case of gender discrimination unless the archdiocese did not take similar action against such a male teacher.

      These cases have been litigated fairly often. The case before the Supreme Court is arguably different.

      It also looks as though she is claiming pregnancy discrimination, not gender discrimination. I don’t see how could she could prevail on that theory unless all pregnant teachers were terminated.

      All that said, however, news summaries of legal claims often don’t reveal too much.

      • Melody permalink
        January 7, 2012 1:38 pm

        So the question still remains, to what extent may an employer dictate what goes on in one’s personal life? Of course that is rhetorical. But let’s say, for instance, that someone saw an employee of a Catholic school pick up a pack of condoms in Wal-Mart, and caught the moment on their cell phone camera. Would that be grounds for firing, or at least a reprimand? There is a lot of talk, especially in an election year, about government assuming the role of “Big Brother”. But private entities can also assume that role. To what extent are we willing to check our constitutional rights at the door as a condition of employment, regardless of our views about morality?

      • LongtimeReader permalink
        January 8, 2012 9:27 pm

        And yet, according to the Romenesko case, men who had wives that were undergoing IVF kept their jobs…( I Included the link where this is claimed in a post below).
        I have no problem with rules being enforced if all rules are enforced equally.

        That does not appear to be the case in some situations, (and do I need to link to myriad cases of male religious and conduct outside their “contract’}?.

  5. Bob the Chef permalink
    January 7, 2012 7:55 am

    Right on the money. It seems our author misunderstands the place for harity and compassion. It is uncharitable to ignore the terms of the contract which were agreed to by this woman because it wouldn’t be nice. It translates to “oh, no big deal”. What the heck is the point of a contract if you’re not going to enforce it? I see no problem here.

    As far as the whining about there being a double standard: there is no legal double standard. If the school knew someone were a sperm donor, the same course of action would follow. The double standard is that God chose to create two sexes, and being male happens to make it difficult to track this kind of transgression. Take that up with God.

    Most importantly, the school is interested in keeping the apparent character, or rather the apparent example, of its teachers in good standing. By keeping her around, what message would they be sending to students? Have you thought about that? So focused on this woman are you to forget that the reason for her termination was the poor example she would be giving. A sperm donor doesn’t do that unless he announces it or is somehow found out.

    • David Cruz-Uribe, SFO permalink*
      January 7, 2012 1:33 pm

      “So focused on this woman are you to forget that the reason for her termination was the poor example she would be giving.”

      Ah, yes, the fear of the dreaded scandal caused by employing a single mother. Depending on the age of the student, they might not notice anything except that Ms. Dias was having a baby. I do not want to dismiss this out of hand, but I must say my inclination is to believe that Holy Mother Church is a big girl and will survive the putative scandal of a single mother on the payroll who conceived through artificial insemination. Depending on the age of the students, it could have been turned into a teaching moment as well.

      “It seems our author misunderstands the place for [c]harity and compassion.”

      The place for charity and compassion: to the forefront, if the Sermon on the Mount is to be taken seriously. You seem to think that I want to absolve Ms. Dias of all responsibility; I do not. However, I believe that there are other ways of handling this than firing her to show our commitment to our own teachings.

      As for double standard: look carefully at the way the Church handled priests who raped and abused children, and the way in which it continues to handle the bishops and chancery officials who turned a blind eye to these grave sins, and then come back and talk to me about double standards.

    • Kurt permalink
      January 7, 2012 2:14 pm

      Just for clarification, Bob, her contract included general language requirng her to “act and comply with Catholic teachings.” She is a Protestant Christian. Very likely she did not knowingly violate her contract. Just as the schoolchildren in Colorado probably did not know Catholic teaching (as taught by the then Archbishop of Denver) required them to be expelled from the parish school because they were being raised by lesbians.

  6. January 7, 2012 12:16 pm

    I think David more or less has the right idea: Dias was certainly not in the right, but I find it impossible to muster up even an artificial sympathy for the Archdiocese here. And it is always worthwhile to consider whether there might be better alternatives.

  7. Thales permalink
    January 7, 2012 4:18 pm

    David,

    Obviously the diocese is concerned that her continued employment would give the appearance to the community of tacit approval for the mother’s action in using artificial insemination (or at least convey the message that artificial insemination is not that serious). This is a message that the diocese should never convey. Also, the possibility of conveying a bad message isn’t an issue with more private sinful behavior (like contraception, etc.), so it’s not hypocritical for the diocese to act with regard to one type of sinful behavior, and not another.

    We’re all sinners, and we all commit sin. But some sin is more serious than other sin, and — more importantly for this story — some sinful behavior is more obvious, noticeable, and blatant than other sinful behavior, which creates the resulting possibility of scandal for the larger Catholic community. Wouldn’t you agree that there is some sinful behavior that a single mother of one child could engage in that would be so outwardly blatant that the diocese would rightly terminate the mother’s employment because to keep the mother on would give the appearance of tacit approval for the mother’s sinful behavior and thus cause scandal to the community? Consider perhaps, a mother who strips at the local strip club as a part-time job, or some other scenario. Don’t you agree that at some point, the diocese must terminate her employment?

    • LongtimeReader permalink
      January 7, 2012 6:40 pm

      Thales your post illustrates perfectly the double standard David referred to above. Perfectly.

      Also, this has happened before, though to a married woman who alerted her employer to the he intention, claims she was counseled that she could proceed in the process if certain caveats were followed, then fired. http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=900005464170&slreturn=1

      Yes, we are all sinners, so I think the lesson here is to lie by omission, always.

      • Thales permalink
        January 8, 2012 2:21 pm

        Thales your post illustrates perfectly the double standard David referred to above. Perfectly.

        Sorry, I’m not understanding your point here. I’m just interested in finding out whether David (and the others here in this debate) recognize the principle that there may be some sinful conduct that rises to such a level as to create scandal, and that an appropriate response is to terminate employment. Once I know that David (and others) understand and accept this principle, then we can move on to the analysis of particular situations and whether this particular story rises to the level where termination is appropriate.

      • LongtimeReader permalink
        January 8, 2012 9:01 pm

        Of course you you do not. Funny, I do not understand your view at all either. I simply do not understand it. Explain, please.

      • LongtimeReader permalink
        January 9, 2012 12:24 am

        I’m just interested in finding out whether David (and the others here in this debate) recognize the principle that there may be some sinful conduct that rises to such a level as to create scandal

        First off thank you so much for the clear clarification that only VN regulars are invited to “this debate.” Second, as David already brought up – priest sexual abuse scandal – do those sins, by so many, that were covered up rise to such a level as to cause you to require some legal action?

      • Thales permalink
        January 9, 2012 9:42 am

        Longtime Reader,

        When I used the phrase “the others here in this debate”, I wasn’t saying that only VN regulars were invited. To the contrary, I was trying to include everyone on this comment thread who was taking a position of criticism like David — the whole reason I used that phrase was not to exclude anyone by directing the comment solely to David, but to open it up to anyone.

        So far, my point in the discussion is simply to explore whether you, David, etc., recognize this principle: that sometimes when a person who is employed by the Church in a position of responsibility and trust engages in conduct that conflicts with Church teachings, and this conduct is publicly-known and rises to a certain level of gravity, it is appropriate for that person’s employment to be terminated in order to avoid causing scandal in the community. If we can all agree and recognize that principle, then we have the foundation for a fruitful discussion and we can move on to talk about particular cases and when termination is appropriate and when it isn’t appropriate. If we don’t agree on that principle, then we have no common premise or foundation, and we’re just talking (and flinging mud) past each other.

        Your link seems to me to be just another particular instance of my principle: a person employed by the Church engages in conduct that conflicts with Church teaching, and this conduct is publicly-known and rises to a certain level of gravity. I’m not sure how the fact that she was initially told (wrongly) that she could do IVF by Church representatives changes the principle.

        Re: the priestly sexual abuse scandal. Don’t worry, I’m on “your side.” Sexual abuse is definitely conduct of sufficient gravity that should lead to employment termination in order to avoid causing scandal. In my opinion, sexual abuse is 100 times worse than art.insem, and if I had been a bishop, I would have been terminating the employment of people left and right. In the past, too many Church leaders acted terribly by covering it up. As we’ve seen, it has caused a huge scandal in the Church, with many people leaving the faith because of it. The whole scandal is basically Exhibit A for the principle that I’m articulating, namely, that sometimes “justice trumps mercy” and sometimes the Church needs to terminate the employment of people who have acted wrongly. But because the fact that the Church acted wrong in the past by not terminating employment is not an argument for why it’s improper to terminate employment in this particular case.

      • Thales permalink
        January 9, 2012 9:47 am

        Longtime Reader,

        A final comment. You say (with I think, a little bit of snideness) “Yes, we are all sinners, so I think the lesson here is to lie by omission, always.” But there is actually a whole lot of truth to that statement. Since we’re talking about the possibility of scandal, a big element in deciding whether termination is proper or not is how public the sinful behavior is. A couple who quietly and privately gets IVF without anyone knowing and who doesn’t tell anyone so that everyone thinks they conceived naturally is different from a couple where the IVF is public knowledge. A woman who quietly gets an abortion without anyone knowing that she was pregnant is different from the woman who aborts and announces her choice that to the world. The couple who privately uses contraception is different from the couple who makes it publicly known that they use contraception and that they see nothing wrong with doing so.

  8. David Cruz-Uribe, SFO permalink*
    January 8, 2012 8:17 am

    Thales,

    I am apparently much less worried by scandal than many of the critics of my post. To repeat what I said above: Holy Mother Church is a big girl, and she can handle the presence of sinners in Her midst. Further, there are other ways of responding that could make our concerns clear without having to fire the woman. Your example of a part-time stripper is not comparable with the case we are considering here, but again, how should the Church respond? By firing the woman, or by first counseling her and perhaps helping her to find a new job?

    Also, with regards to scandal, it is worth noting that the pastor who fired Ms. Dias was accused of sexual misconduct while a teacher—charges credible enough that the archdiocese entered into a financial settlement. Why are you not concerned by the “scandal” caused by appointing him to an important pastorate? Admittedly, I know no details of his case, but the point is still valid, and if you want I can dig up all sorts of cases where real scandal was given.

    Finally, here is a gedanken experiment that I think will shed more light on how we as a Church should respond. Suppose Ms. Dias were Catholic, and 4-5 months after conceiving via artificial insemination, had a change of heart, repented, confessed her sins and was absolved. She is still pregnant and since her internal forum is known only to her and her confessor, still a potential source of “scandal.” Should the school still fire her?

    • Thales permalink
      January 8, 2012 2:55 pm

      Your example of a part-time stripper is not comparable with the case we are considering here, but again, how should the Church respond? By firing the woman, or by first counseling her and perhaps helping her to find a new job?

      I should have been more clear with my example: consider a woman who is working part-time at the strip club, has been told by the Church that she shouldn’t do it, but is unrepentant and continues to do so. In my opinion, her employment with the diocese should be terminated, because of the danger of scandal. Don’t you agree?

      Your comment also mentions the possibility of the Church counseling her and perhaps helping her to find a new job. I see no problem with any of that — in fact, I agree with you 100%. The Church should look with compassion on the woman; the Church should continually seek to help her out spiritually, or economically, or in whatever way she needs. But that is all beside my main point: my main point is that the Church should not continue to keep her as an employee of the diocese, because of scandal. Do you see my point? Do you see that (1) the Church continuing to keep her as a diocesan employee is distinct from (2) the fact that the Church should help the woman in every possible way, including perhaps helping her get necessary employment in some other job not with the diocese?

      Why are you not concerned by the “scandal” caused by appointing him to an important pastorate?

      I initially didn’t read the article, so initially I had no knowledge of the scandal of the allegations against the priest when I wrote my comment. I simply responded to the point of your post, and wanted to see whether you agreed with the principle that at some point, sinful behavior causes such scandal that employment with the diocese should be terminated. As for the issue of sexual abuse/ priest scandal, I’m no defender of it. I abhor what happened entirely, and firmly recognize the negligence of so many people in the Church’s hierarchy in ignoring it, moving priests, etc….. and I certainly recognize the great deal of scandal that was caused by the Church. Don’t worry, I’m on “your side” on this issue.

      Should the school still fire her?

      Your last paragraph is an interesting hypothetical. (Quick question: you say that the internal forum is known only to her and her confessor — I’m not understanding this, because the problem with her situation is that her pregnancy and birth is inherently public and obviously cannot be confined solely to the confessional.) At any rate, your hypothetical is interesting. It’s kind of like the repentant stripper. I’m unsure about the answer because I think it would depend greatly on the particular circumstances of the parish (ie, how long ago was the change of heart; how well known was her initial sin in the community and how well known was her change of heart in the community; how prominent her job is with the diocese; how much is her job is as a representative of the Church to the community; how financially necessary the job is to her, etc.) I definitely recognize that there are situations where the repentant stripper/repentant art.inseminator should be retained by the diocese because there is no danger of scandal — and in fact, to the contrary, where this person would be a stellar example of God’s grace, repentance, and ability to change one’s life around (i.e., I’ve got no problem with Augustine and his sordid past becoming a bishop. To the contrary, I love it!).

    • Thales permalink
      January 8, 2012 4:48 pm

      Ron’s comments made me realize that there is another wrinkle to the story that I haven’t mentioned: she is not merely an employee for the diocese (which is the point from which I’ve been making my points); she is a teacher who is necessarily a role model to her students and is partly responsible for their education in the Catholic faith (even if she isn’t Catholic and isn’t teaching religion class, her teaching must support and affirm the Catholic education of her students). That position carries a greater possibility of scandal.

  9. January 8, 2012 9:53 am

    The dominant response here seems to be compassion for the new mother who lost her job. What about compassion for the child conceived out of the mother’s selfish desire and deprived forever of what should be every child’s birthright? The Compendium is very clear on that point: “The first right of the child is ‘to be born in a real family,’ a right that has not always been respected and that today is subject to new violations because of developments in genetic technology.” What the woman did to her own child was so very wrong that I would not want her teaching my own children, and I applaud the archdiocese for standing its ground in the face of the usual PC criticism.

    • David Cruz-Uribe, SFO permalink*
      January 8, 2012 12:33 pm

      Ron, how would you answer your own question: what constitutes compassion for the child? I have been suggesting that firing the mother is not compassionate. What do you suggest?

      As for being disqualified from teaching: you might have an argument if she was teaching faith and morals. The woman worked as a technology specialist in these two schools: how does her particular sin and failing disqualify her from teaching this to any children, including your own? I strongly doubt that she is going around secretly whispering the glories of artificial insemination during lessons in Google and keyboarding. So it would seem that you object to children being in the presence of a sinner: makes it kind of hard to hire teachers, don’t you think?

      • January 8, 2012 2:58 pm

        Teachers set examples for their students, bad and good. One of the reasons we pay for our daughter’s education is to make sure the examples are ones we want her to follow. There is no way that the students will not find out that one of their instructors has a baby without a daddy. If the older students should happen to ask, I assume the teacher–who is evidently proud of her choices–might well fill them in.

        What is the “compassionate” response to all of this? The most compassionate response of all would be for this woman to place her child for adoption in a two-parent married family. Other than that, there is no way to fix this situation for the child, who is the real victim here, not the mother.

      • Thales permalink
        January 8, 2012 5:01 pm

        So it would seem that you object to children being in the presence of a sinner: makes it kind of hard to hire teachers, don’t you think?

        David, I get that people can disagree about what happened in this particular case, about whether it was appropriate or not. But in order to have a fruitful discussion about it, it’s important to be clear about the concepts. It does no good to misrepresent the principle at work here, which is what you’re doing here. The principle at work here is not an objection to being in the presence of a sinner; what’s objectionable is having as a teacher (and thus, a model to students) an unrepentant sinner engaging in conduct that rises to a certain level of gravity and publicity.

        Again, I can see that someone might think that the teacher’s unrepentant sinful behavior is not so grave or so public as to cause scandal, but make your argument based on that principle — don’t misrepresent the position of those who disagree with you.

    • Kurt permalink
      January 8, 2012 1:37 pm

      What the woman did to her own child was so very wrong that I would not want her teaching my own children,

      A part time computer science teacher. Really? Someone decent parents know is unworthy to be around any children? Would you let her serve your children Happy Meals ™?

      • January 8, 2012 3:08 pm

        Here’s the answer you want: No, I would just kill this sinner because I refuse to follow the gospel message that you understand and I don’t.

        Here’s my answer: Your question is intentionally insulting. As a parent who pays tuition in the Catholic school system, I expect the system’s policies to be enforced. I do not want my children to be told that a fundamental injustice done to a child is really OK because it makes some adult feel good.

      • Kurt permalink
        January 8, 2012 4:01 pm

        I do not want my children to be told that a fundamental injustice done to a child is really OK because it makes some adult feel good.

        Your weak point is that there is not universal acceptance of your theory that her mere part time presence with your children teaching them how to use a computer is a statement of approval of this action.

      • LongtimeReader permalink
        January 8, 2012 9:04 pm

        So Ron, do you support examinations of your teacher’s homes? Or is sinfulness OK if you don’t KNOW about it. I mean, how terribly messy , right?

  10. hazemyth permalink
    January 8, 2012 2:16 pm

    There’s a certain amount of talk here about the purported selfishness of the mother’s choice. It seems to be presumed that Ms. Dias considered mainly her desire for a child and failed to consider the child’s welfare.

    I say presumed because we don’t really know, on the basis of a brief article, the considerations Ms. Dias underwent, prior to and and during the lengthy, complex (and expensive) process of artificial insemination. Rather, the choice to have a child, through artificial insemination and/or as a single parent, is being treated as implicitly selfish. I don’t think that’s fair.

    It should perhaps be remembered that people have different assessments of what constitutes a ‘real family’ or a child’s welfare. It may be that they are wrong — perhaps grievously so — but being wrong about these considerations is not the same as selfishly dismissing them.

    • Thales permalink
      January 8, 2012 2:58 pm

      Rather, the choice to have a child, through artificial insemination and/or as a single parent, is being treated as implicitly selfish. I don’t think that’s fair.

      Hhmm, hazemyth, I think the choice to have a child through art.insem. is implicitly selfish — because no one has a right to create a child through this scientific method. If you want to argue that it’s not implicitly selfish, I think you have to argue why it’s permissible to create a child through this scientific method.

      • LongtimeReader permalink
        January 8, 2012 9:08 pm

        Thales, as to be expected you post that you do not “understand” my response and yet you don’t respond to my linked case of a married woman being fired for the same offense?

      • Thales permalink
        January 9, 2012 9:48 am

        Longtime Reader,
        I responded above.

    • January 8, 2012 3:03 pm

      Certainly people do have all sorts of opinions about what constitutes a “real” family. They have all sorts of opinions about many other moral issues too. But the Catholic Church has very clear teachings on the subject. Faithful Catholics examine those teachings and adhere to them because they care more about the welfare of those whose lives may be entrusted to their care than they do about getting whatever their “wish-come-true” might happen to be.

  11. brian martin permalink
    January 8, 2012 6:53 pm

    given the season, I have a couple of thoughts…
    Mary is unwed, and finds herself pregnant. There is no father…certainly not in the natural sense. So, violating the norms of her social environment, she is …fired.
    ” What Mary, pregnant? And you unmarried? And there is no biological father? Why we simply cannot have that…it’s too scandalous. I guess we have to let you go.

    I think perhaps the Church finds itself acting more as Pharisees and less like followers of Christ. They forget the scandal of a “virgin” birth….an unwed pregnant Jewish Girl..potentially a stoning offense. They forget the scandal of that baby’s ministry when he grew up. I mean…healing folks on the Sabbath? And the scandal of a God dying a human death on a cross…an agonizing death for the sins of all.

    It seems to me that his words to the folks who were going to stone the adulteress would be a likely response now…”Let he among you who is without sin cast the first stone”…becoming “let he among you who is without sin hand this lady her pink slip”.

    Of course the whole single parent double parent argument is based on ideals and not reality….as the reality is a single parent who loves his or her child is much better than an abusive dysfunctional two parent household.

  12. hazemyth permalink
    January 9, 2012 4:37 am

    I’m not opining regarding the morality of artificial insemination or Catholic doctrine. My point is simply that being selfish and being wrong are not the same thing.

    Even if artificial insemination is morally impermissable, that does not mean it is necessarily motivated by selfishness — that is, motivated out of self-interest without a regard for others’ wellbeing.

    Likewise, others may “care more about the welfare of [their dependents] than they do about getting whatever [they want]” while earnestly disagreeing about what constitutes that best welfare. That disagreement (wrong or right) is not, in itself, selfishness. It is merely disagreement.

    • Thales permalink
      January 9, 2012 9:13 am

      Even if artificial insemination is morally impermissable, that does not mean it is necessarily motivated by selfishness

      hazemyth, I’m honestly not trying to be petty or mean, but I’ve wracked my brains and I can’t think of any possible scenario where a single woman would become pregnant by a.i. without being selfish. Do you have an example of what you’re thinking of?

      (I see your distinction between “being selfish” and “being morally wrong”. You’re right, often one is not the same as the other. But I simply can’t think of a non-selfish reason for a single woman having a child by a.i. This is a terrible analogy, but consider someone saying “I want to have a slave”. Similarly, I can’t think of any non-selfish reason for a person to want and obtain a slave.)

      • hazemyth permalink
        January 9, 2012 5:32 pm

        On my part, I honestly don’t really understand why this is so obscure…

        Such a mother might do it for any of the non-selfish reasons that anyone has a child. She would be be granting that child the gift of life and probably would be intent on giving it the best upbringing possible, as most parents are.

        Granted, according to Catholic teaching, raising a child outside of wedlock and without its biological father is a grave injustice, and so cannot constitute the ‘best upbringing possible’. But not everyone agrees with this. That does not mean they selfishly disregard their childrens’ welfare. They may just define that welfare differently (and in all good faith).

        (And I have to agree, that’s a terrible analogy. It seems to presuppose the very thing it’s meant to illustrate.)

      • hazemyth permalink
        January 9, 2012 5:36 pm

        And, if I could explain why I think this is relevant to David Cruz-Uribe’s thrust, revolving charity and compassion…

        Condemning an action as immoral is one thing, and may often be justified. Imputing base motives (such as selfishness) is another. It is uncharitable in thought. As such, I think it can often lead people to be uncharitable in deed. It is more difficult to show and feel compassion, when one believes the condemned is acting in bad faith or out of ill will.

      • Thales permalink
        January 9, 2012 9:16 pm

        Such a mother might do it for any of the non-selfish reasons that anyone has a child. She would be be granting that child the gift of life and probably would be intent on giving it the best upbringing possible, as most parents are.

        hazemyth,

        This last comment was actually helpful to me, and I now see your point. I see what you’re getting at by making the distinction of selfishness and immorality. I think that I was coming from the “old-fashioned” notion that no one has a “right” to a child because the conception of a child is a little bit of a mystery and a bit of a miracle that no one can absolutely control. But we are now in a brave new world where babies can be created at will in a petri dish, and so there is growing the notion that one can order a child just like ordering a house or some other product. So I can see your point, that people with the perspective of being able to obtain a baby at will by science could be motivated by non-selfish reasons.

  13. LongtimeReader permalink
    January 9, 2012 8:05 am

    While the church/school/dioceses has the right to take these actions against an employee, the hypocrisy (in light of decades of the real scandal of predatory behavior and cover ups) is stunning.

    But if we are going to hold the school employees to this standard, then we better hold the families paying the tuition to that school to the same – expulsion if found acting outside of what the Church teaches. Anyone sending their child to a parochial school knows this, we signed a statement to that effect, but is this enforced?

    • David Cruz-Uribe, SFO permalink*
      January 9, 2012 7:37 pm

      See the comment above about Archbishop Chaput in Denver. This rule has been applied to parents of students in these schools, at least for some kinds of sins.

      • LongtimeReader permalink
        January 9, 2012 7:46 pm

        Yes, only some kinds of sins.

  14. Ronald King permalink
    January 9, 2012 7:06 pm

    Married couples can be included in having a selfish desire to have children. Is the employer in this situation being selfish with his love of law instead of love of neighbor? The apparent lack of love for this woman and her child and adherence to a rigid “moral” position lacks wisdom.

  15. David Cruz-Uribe, SFO permalink*
    January 9, 2012 7:38 pm

    Ron Chandonia writes:

    “What is the “compassionate” response to all of this? The most compassionate response of all would be for this woman to place her child for adoption in a two-parent married family. Other than that, there is no way to fix this situation for the child, who is the real victim here, not the mother.”

    That you could seriously describe this as the most compassionate response simply beggars the imagination. Our world views are so disparate I can find no grounds for responding meaningfully.

    • Melody permalink
      January 9, 2012 8:32 pm

      I also had trouble with that response; it seems to say that a single mother should never keep her baby. Blanket pronouncements are not helpful, each mother in that situation has to make her decision as best she can, hopefully with prayer and good advice. I know some very excellent single mothers. I also know of some who should not have attempted to keep their babies, because of immaturity and/or personal issues such as substance abuse or mental instability.

  16. Bruce in Kansas permalink
    January 10, 2012 11:00 am

    Being a single parent is extremely tough. For someone who claims to love children as this woman does, it does not make sense to go it alone. Not by choice, I found myself being a single dad for six years and frequently required a great deal of support from extended family, employer, neighbors and the like. For someone to violate their employment contract by electing to become a single parent is a big mistake. Failure to recognize the mistake and apologize, but rather to claim no mistake and sue demonstrates a significant lack of judgment, in my opinion.

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