19 February 2016
Court Affirms Diocese’s Freedom to Operate According to Catholic Teaching
Thanks to Pewsitter for posting a link to this piece of good news:
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A Missouri court Tuesday rejected the primary claim of a former Catholic diocese ministry worker who sued the diocese for terminating her employment once leadership learned of her same-sex union.
The court ruled that the First Amendment’s guarantee of the free exercise of religion means the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City–St. Joseph is free to make its employment decisions without court interference. Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing the diocese filed a motion for summary judgment last year asking for this result.
“A church isn’t obligated to employ those who act contrary to the church’s teachings. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed this as recently as four years ago,” said ADF Senior Counsel Erik Stanley. “The district court was on very firm constitutional ground to reject this attempt to drag the government into a church’s theological decisions – the very line the First Amendment says the government cannot cross.”
In July 2013, Colleen Simon began working as director for social ministries for St. Francis Xavier Parish in the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City–St. Joseph. The priest at St. Francis ended Simon’s employment in May 2014 after an article appeared in the Kansas City Star that described her as married to another woman. The diocese explained to Simon that her same-sex union “contradicts Church laws, discipline, and teaching and the diocesan Policy on Ethics and Integrity in Ministry.”
In its summary judgment order in Simon v. Catholic Diocese of Kansas City–St. Joseph, the Jackson County Circuit Court wrote that “although cloaked in the guise of ostensibly religiously-neutrally-applicable fraud claims, it can be fairly stated that [Simon]’s averments…come more manifestly frocked as employment discrimination claims against an ecclesiastical entity. ...