IU law professor says students have ‘great learning opportunity’ in split between Brebeuf Jesuit, Archdiocese

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – When the Archdiocese of Indianapolis cut ties with Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School on Friday, an IU McKinney law professor said it gave students an opportunity for rich discussion on important issues.

"I think it creates a great learning opportunity for students, at Brebeuf and at all Catholic schools," Robert Katz said.

Katz teaches courses at the school on law and religion.

"The takeaway for students from this experience is that you shouldn't do something just because someone in authority tells you to do it," Katz said. "You need to think it through."

Brebeuf is an independent Catholic school. The leadership there refused to fire a teacher who is in a same-sex marriage. For that reason, the Archdiocese decided to split from Brebeuf, meaning it will not recognize it as a Catholic school anymore.

"What Brebeuf has decided to do is define religious teachers as ministers of the faith, but not define say math teachers or drama teachers as ministers of the faith," Katz explained. "Role models, yes. But not ministers of the faith."

Earlier on Friday, the Archdiocese issued a statement and decree. Both can be found in their entirety on CBS4Indy.com.

Roncalli High School, on the other hand, is an Archdiocesan school. That's the one that let two female guidance counselors go who are each married to a woman.

Both women plan to sue the school. Still, Katz said the central issue here is the interpretation of “minister of the faith.”

"The Archdiocese has decided to define all teachers, administrators, guidance counselors, at Parish schools as teachers of the faith," Katz explained. "That's a common practice among some religious schools. What it does is it insulates them from employment discrimination suits."

Katz brought up the 2012 Supreme Court Case, Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Luthern Church and School vs. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The court made a unanimous decision that federal discrimination laws do not apply to religious organizations' selection of religious leaders.

"You sue the school on grounds of discriminating against you and basis of sexual orientation," Katz explained. "Under the law, the school has a defense and can say, 'Well, you are a minister of the faith and therefore it is appropriate and reasonable for us to demand that you conform with the dictates of the faith and so-forth.'"

FOX59 did reach out to Archdiocese officials before this story aired but no one answered the call. In a previous statement, they said in part, “Whether they [employee] teach religion or not, all ministers in their professional and private lives must convey and be supportive of all teachings of the Catholic Church."

There is a meeting for parents of Brebeuf students on Monday, June 24 at 5 p.m. in the chapel.

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