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Catholic Organizations Challenge Firing of Lesbian Religion Teacher

Contact Information: 

Marianne Duddy-Burke, Executive Director, 617-669-7810

Jeff Stone, Director of Media Relations, 212-662-9818

A Joint Statement from the leaders of Call To Action, Fortunate Families, DignityUSA, and New Ways Ministry

Denver – June 21, 2010 - Toni Talarico was fired by Catholic officials despite a sterling record of 28 years of teaching religion at a Catholic parish in Denver.  She was fired because she happens to be a lesbian.  And, although Toni was fired in January of this year, the story is now coming to light after months of wrangling over her accrued benefits. 

Leaders from four major Catholic advocacy groups that support the full equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people released the following statement:

As leaders in DignityUSA, Call To Action, Fortunate Families and New Ways Ministry, we represent hundreds of thousands of progressive Roman Catholics, who are asking the church to live up to its own history of standing on the side of those who are treated unfairly. 

Sadly, this is one more textbook case of how the church hierarchy ignores its own values and gets it wrong when they discover someone is lesbian or gay.

Instead of looking at the total life of a person, these church administrators lean on legalism and judgmental ideology.  Instead of listening to parishioners talk about Ms. Talarico’s talents and commitment to teaching, they follow directives from distant church officials with no personal knowledge of the situation.  Instead of finding a solution that values the human dignity of Ms. Talarico and the feelings of the students and their families who love her, they make decisions based on flawed and outdated policies.

The majority of Catholics in the pews, across the United States, want the Catholic Church to be a community where all people, regardless of sexual orientation, are treated equally and fairly.  We envision a church where all can contribute their God-given gifts in service to the community.  We work towards a day when all in the church will recognize that all love is from God and that all love mirrors the love that God has for us all.

We join all Catholics who are speaking out for love and fairness as we stand in solidarity with Ms. Talarico. We call on the Archdiocese of Denver and Guardian Angels parish to reverse their unjust decisions.  We call for policies based on respect and fairness.  We pray that the entire church in Denver will take this opportunity to affirm the wholeness of God’s creation, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.

Contacts:

Francis DeBernardo, Executive Director, New Ways Ministry, 301-277-5674, newwaysministry.org

Nicole Sotelo, Communications Director, Call To Action, 773.404.0004 x285, cta-usa.org

Casey Lopata, President, Fortunate Families, 585-698-6100, fortunatefamilies.com                                          

Marianne Duddy-Burke, Executive Director, DignityUSA, 617-669-7810, dignityusa.org                                                                                    

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