The Sins of the Mother
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.