Statement as issued Wednesday:
The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend is saddened by the lawsuit filed against it by a former teacher at one of its grade schools. The claims made against the Diocese in the lawsuit allege matters of sex, pregnancy and disability discrimination. The Diocese denies any such discrimination occurred. Rather, the Diocese views the core issue raised in this lawsuit as a challenge to the Diocese’s right, as a religious employer, to make religious based decisions consistent with its religious standards on an impartial basis.
The Catholic Church has a deep pastoral concern for husbands and wives struggling with infertility. The Church promotes treatment of infertility through means that respect the right to life, the unity of marriage, and procreation brought about as the fruit of the conjugal act.
There are other infertility treatments, such as in vitro fertilization, which are not morally licit according to Catholic teaching. The Church teaches that every individual embryo has the right to life. The process of in vitro fertilization very frequently involves the deliberate destruction of embryos or the freezing of embryos, which the Church holds to be incompatible with the respect owed to human life. Furthermore, the Church teaches that it is morally unacceptable to “disassociate procreation from the integrally personal context of the conjugal act” and insists that procreation not be reduced to mere reproduction.
The Diocese has clear policies requiring that teachers in its schools must, as a condition of employment, have a knowledge of and respect for the Catholic faith, and abide by the tenets of the Catholic Church as those tenets apply to that person. The Diocese requires that its teachers serve as moral exemplars. Those requirements, and others, are expressly incorporated into Diocesan teacher contracts.
The Diocese does not intend to comment on the specific allegations raised in the lawsuit that was filed against it. However, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades believes it important that the Faithful understand that the Diocese does not take its obligations as an employer lightly. At the same time, the Diocese understands its obligation to uphold Church teaching and defends its freedom to do so. Bishop Rhoades asks the Faithful to join with him in prayer for the swift and just resolution of this matter – one that affirms the Diocese’s ability to exercise its lawful rights consistent with Church teachings.