Scottish cardinal says church won't ban gays from teaching

Ross von Metzke | March 30, 2005

Cardinal Keith O�Brien
EDINBURGH, Scotland — Gays and lesbians will not be banned from teaching in faith schools, according to Cardinal Keith O�Brien, head of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland. He said sexual orientation was not, in itself, of any relevance to the Church.

His comments, made yesterday to a Scottish Sunday newspaper, flatly contradict those of Bishop Joseph Devine, the president of the Catholic Education Service, whose comments that a homosexual teacher "would not at all be compatible" with Church teachings caused and uproar in the LGBT and faith communities last week.

He said that the Charter for Catholic Schools, a group which specifies that teachers must abide by the rules and moral values of the church, made it clear that openly gay people could not teach in Roman Catholic schools.

Bishop Devine�s comments were greeted with condemnation from multiple groups. Judith Gillespie, of the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, described them as "very sad" and Jack McConnell, the First Minister, told MSPs that teachers should be chosen on ability, not on the basis of their sexuality.

The intervention of Cardinal O�Brien is the sternest rebuke to Bishop Devine, whose remarks were regarded not just as intolerant but as a breach of equality and employment laws.

"If there happens to be a gay teacher and he does happen to be living with a partner, that�s their personal, private life,� O�Brien told members of the UK press. �I don�t see it as a problem."

He added there would be no investigation into whether a prospective or practicing teacher was gay or lesbian, saying there was no �witch hunt with regard to morality or lifestyle.�

Church insiders said the cardinal has stepped in to exert his authority and defuse what may be perceived as a row among the hierarchy over issues of faith and morals.

But while the cardinal felt the need to chastise the bishop and reassert the Church�s image as a tolerant institution, he did concede that a moral dilemma could be created if a gay teacher was to criticize tenets of the Church while teaching under its auspices.

"I don�t have a problem with the personal life of a person as long as they are not flaunting their sexuality," he added. – Gay Link Content

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