Ousted gay band director continues fight

Former St. Mary Central Catholic employee Brian Panetta wants a sitdown with Pope Francis
Alissa Widman Neese
May 30, 2014



St. Mary Central Catholic High School's fired band director hopes to secure a conversation with the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church.

Brian Panetta, who lost his job in January after announcing plans for a gay wedding, is one of nine U.S. teachers who signed a letter to Pope Francis, requesting a Papal audience to discuss homosexuality.

Click HERE for past stories about the fired band director

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest civil rights advocacy group for LGBT individuals, delivered the petition to the Vatican on Tuesday.

"We respectfully submit that it is time for our Church to reflect on how it treats lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Catholics, and the family members who embrace them," the letter reads. "Love thy neighbor as thyself is at the foundation of the gospel and the Church's social teaching, and yet we are not treated as neighbors."

The letter addresses the growing number of gay teacher firings at Catholic schools across the nation, as well as the feelings of alienation that follow.

All teachers who signed the letter identify as Catholic.

"While Catholics are among the most welcoming and embracing of all people of faith, the hierarchy is doing an incredible amount of damage by emotionlessly wielding discriminatory policies against faithful Catholics," it reads. 

Those joining forces with Panetta include five gay teachers from across the U.S. whose schools fired them for marriage plans. 

Its three other signatures belong to a trio of Cincinnati-area teachers who resigned in protest of a new employment contract, which for the first time detailed specific practices the Catholic school employees couldn't publicly support, including "gay lifestyles."

At Sandusky Central Catholic School, Panetta signed a similar contract, which school officials and representatives from the Catholic Diocese of Toledo cited following his departure.

It's ultimately unclear who fired Panetta, who was in his fifth year of employment. School officials attributed the decision to mandates from the diocese, but its representatives claimed the decision was a local choice.

After word spread of Panetta's firing, he was later allowed to forcibly resign, he told the Register. 

Soon after, the story attracted national attention.

A copy of the Human Rights Campaign's letter is available below

Watch a January interview with Brian Panetta in the player below


Tsu Dho Nimh

If he doesn't agree with the doctrine of the Catholic church, then find another church that shares his values.


Tsu, I would be inclined to agree with you if I thought that the church actually followed its own doctrine. Take the Diocese of Toledo, the very same that backed Brian's termination had no problem protecting and moving around predator priests for years. Heck, they even protected a killer priest, the one that killed that nun in a Satanic ritual on an Easter Saturday in a chapel. think about this for a minute and how absurd and twisted the whole thing is: gay teacher who has done nothing wrong gets fired, but sexual predators of children protected. EVIL.


So, because an institution failed to fulfill its stated principles in one area, it should abandon all its principles in another? That's like saying because of the VA hospital scandal, the USA should repeal all laws regulating agriculture.


We are talking rape of kids and murder AND then a cover up.

What principles?

From the Grave

WHO was talking about rape and murder?!?!


DcFred and he is right.

Having sex with young boys and girls is rape!

From the Grave

But that's not what this story is about AT ALL.


You need to work on your reading comprehension.

Are you prepared to cite where the crimes you mention are called for or even allowed in the official doctrine of the institution?
I didn't think so - therefore, those acts constitute a failure of the institution to conform to its principles. Such a failure does not constitute a valid reason for abandoning its principles in another area.


Not to mention that children have a far greater chance of being raped by law enforcement officers or public school teachers and people in general of being murdered by a government employee than by a priest.

From the Grave

He MUST have known that he'd lose his job if he got married or even announced his engagement. If he REALLY loves teaching, like ALL teachers SHOULD, then he would have either found a new job first, or just gone on like he was so he could keep his job. Accept the consequences and MOVE ON.


He did, he didn't fight for his job! He is trying to educate you simple minded ppl!

From the Grave

Hey, I'm all for people being who they are. But you can't change an employer's rules to just because you want things to be different. He knew what would happen, so just move on to another job.


Would be interesting to have some insight into the closets of the Catholics that actually belong to St. Mary...........

thinkagain's picture

Cue the Christaphobic, godless heathen…


You say godless like it's a bad thing. I find it impossible to be phobic towards something I don't believe in.


Re: "I find it impossible to be phobic towards something I don't believe in."

A mental contradiction.

Then why rail against it?


Doesn't coaster still get an opinion? Explain "rail".



Reading improves one's vocabulary. You should try it.


I fail to se where he was railing against anything.

Just stating his thoughts. I saw no force!

Rusty of Sandusky

"I find it impossible to be phobic towards something I don't believe in."

Yet someone who "doesn't believe in" homosexuality is automatically branded as being homophobic. ;-)


Let's clarify: I don't think God or gods exist. I think we all agree that homosexuality exists, so your comparison is invalid.

In your example, the phrase "doesn't believe in" has a different meaning: "something you don't approve of".

thinkagain's picture

As you can see from coasterfan’s reply, logic eludes the liberal mind.

From the Grave

I have no interest in any God, Savior, or religion that doesn't accept every person as they are.


Re: "I have no interest in any God, Savior, or religion that doesn't accept every person as they are."

Including rapists, murderers, pedophiles, thieves, traitors and politicians? Says more about you than about religion.



Jesus told the adulterous woman NOT to do it again as a condition of His forgiveness.

"Judge not" isn't a heavenly "if it feels good, do it" stamp of approval.

FYI: A late friend had a brother who went away to seminary several decades ago.

He told a story of how the officials had caught two young men engaging in 'relations' and kicked 'em out.


"I have no interest in any God, Savior, or religion that doesn't accept every person as they are"

That's your choice. HAs anyone forced you into a church at gunpoint? No?
Then what's the problem?

From the Grave

Remember that I said "I". You all are free to believe what you want to believe.


Have you found a God Savior, or religion that accepts rapists, murderers, pedophiles, thieves, traitors and politicians? Or are you still looking for one? As I said before it says much more about you than it does about others.

From the Grave

Thank you!


Yes grumpy, they are called Catholics!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


This isn't about being "Christaphobic," godless, or heathens. It's about being true to your own principles!

I don't think St. Mary's was in the wrong when it fired the teacher (who signed a contract promising not to do exactly what he went ahead and did). I don't demand that Catholics decide homosexuality is no longer a sin. What I DO demand is that, if it's against Catholic doctrine, comparable sins be treated in comparable ways!

Priests molesting young boys. Flagrant adulterers attending church and receiving Communion. Rampant contraceptive use (and thank god for that, no pun intended!). Flagrant pro-abortion politicians bragging about what devout Catholics they are. And so on.

Whatever I think of the Catholic Church's rules and teachings doesn't matter. What matters is what the Catholic hierarchy thinks of Catholic rules and teachings, and it's painfully obvious it prefers to pick and choose instead of maintaining any sort of consistency. THAT'S the other sin, here!


There are practical considerations of what can and cannot be enforced without extreme measures.

As I pointed out above, failures within an organization to enforce some principles do not necessarily constitute cherry picking. A wise man once said do not assume malice as an explanation where incompetence will suffice.


I agree that there's a large portion of "don't ask, don't tell" being served up here, but if the Church doesn't KNOW you're on birth control or sleeping with your secretary, then the hypocrisy is yours and yours alone. It's when you go PUBLIC with your affair, your vasectomy or IVF, or yes, your upcoming homosexual nuptuals, that the Church ought to take action in accordance with its tenets. (By "go public," I don't necessarily mean that YOU shout it from the rooftops, but that becomes no longer secret -- for example, it's reported to police as in the case of priest child molestations.)

While your second paragraph is sadly all too true all too often, I think there have been enough incidents concerning the Catholic Church on a sufficiently widespread basis that incompetence can't be the only explanation. While that might be the case in a few instances, there's also evidence of broad ongoing cover-ups that certainly point to malice (toward the victims if no one else)!


Incompetence can be criminal. The goal was not to promote the behavior, but a grossly incompetent attempt to deal with it while meeting other goals. The real problem was the church's buying into the modern secular religion of psychology. These priests SHOULD have been defrocked, but the heirarchy bought into the disease paradigm and came up with a monstrous solution trying to accommodate that thinking. They lost sight of the fact that restraining one's sexual desires is a bona fide occupational qualification for a priest, whether those desires are for women, men, kids, or livestock.

So, yeah, it was incompetence - there was no malice.


Who are you to demand anything of the Roman Catholic Church and to judge any of its members?


Cue the big mouth bigot.


I am glad he will try, but I don't see the church changing there doctrine. I do think however that we need to accept all people, Pope Francis has made it clear to love everyone.


a freakers ball?

Stop It

Dr. Hook and The Medicine Show...;)

Edit to add: had many of them on vinyl, then on cassette, and now a few on disk. Why bother buying when it's free online, huh?

Streaming online, youtube: http://youtu.be/Z5sA8ueYooM


Good point. Pope Francis seems very accepting of us atheists.


Agreed. But (especially in a case like this) where's the line between "acceptance" and actually condoning the "sin?"


If only SMCC board members and staff had the courage shown at Mount de Sales, a Catholic school in Georgia that fired its gay band director this month: 3 board members quit over the firing and so did one teacher after she refused demands by the school to remove a Facebook comment in support of the band director. What I find amazing is that this is a conservative community in a conservative state, and students, staff and board members are taking a public stand, resisting intimidation unlike the spineless SMCC community.


Well said.


Agree. Well said.


Did you ever think that they aren't being spineless but agree with the actions of upholding a contract? I know many former panthers who agreed with the firing as it was the right thing to do. Just because they don't feel the same opinions as you, you don't need to bash them and consider them spineless when you don't even know their beliefs. He was apparently a good teacher, but he broke a contract; it is simple as that. I'm sure there would also be an outcry by some had they not followed through with the contract as not everyone who is Catholic has the same opinions on homosexuality as you.


Panther: The St. Mary school community has simply done a better job at convincing people that the school's reputation is more important than any one injustice, even if done to a gifted, much loved popular teacher. Yes, spineless. Many people were afraid to take a public stand because they had family in the school receiving subsidies from the Parish. A friend of mine who took a very public stand received "veiled threats" regarding her grand kids-- who receive financial aid-- for supporting Brian. Secrecy has been the spiritual cancer of the Diocese of Toledo. So yes again, spineless. And yes, I applaud the board members,students, parents and staff @ Mount de Sales for resisting intimidation and taking a different approach: having a spine.


Brian, you have the support of many. Please don't let prejudice stop you!


I concur!


yep, Pope Francis has time for 9 unhappy people!


Re: "plans for a gay wedding,"

So Mr. Panetta, how are the plans progressing?

You seem to believe that that everyone is so deeply interested in the most intimate details of your personal life.

Audience with Il Papa? Reads delusional.


I don't think he would have been fired had Pope Francis been on the board. It is time that all the hypocrites within the catholic church take a good look at themselves and be a little or even a lot more "christian"


Is Mr. Panetta just not very bright? I mean, what did he think was going to happen when he went to work there? It seems as if he expected a different result. I don't believe the Catholic church should have to change their views for anyone or anything, hypocritical as they may be. (I am a former Catholic, left the church because of their outrageous hypocrisy and "better than non-Catholics" attitude)


Re: "what did he think was going to happen when he went to work there?"

I've understood the policy to essentially be: Don't ask, don't tell.

He spoke about the intended marriage, they didn't ask.

Historically, the Episcopal Church is akin to the Roman Catholic Church and tends to be accepting of LGBTs.

"If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet." (MT 10:14)

Truth or Dare

Ok, so they're not allowed to publicly support the gay lifestyle, right? Had Mr. Panetta not been honest and upfront, not said a word and gotten married on the down low, you know, eloped, all would be good then?

Mr. Panetta and group, you may as well pound your head against a brick wall. You're dealing with an extreme political/religious organization that to this day continues to protect Pedophiles!


To me, one of the issues is that the school is picking and choosing which tenants of their doctrine they want their employees to follow. I'm sure they have employees who are divorced, who engaged in premarital sex, or who had extramarital affairs, not to mention those who violated other rules of the Catholic Church.


Under those doctrines you claim are cherry picked:

-being divorced is not a problem. Remarrying without the church declaring that the first marriage was ecclesiastically invalid is.

-engaging in premarital sex and having an affair are INSTANCES of sin, just like missing Sunday attendance, just like disrespecting your parents, just like cursing. One can repent them and move on. By remarrying when one is still married in the eyes of the church, or by marrying someone of the same gender as oneself, one is making a declaration of intent to go on repeating a sin, and thus declaring unrepentance.

It's also a question of the example one sets. One may curse like a sailor alone in their own home, and it doesn't affect their ability to be a role model for the students. If they are seen cursing in public, that's a different story.

The policy is very sound, from a consistency and logical perspective. If you dislike it from a theological perspective, well, then, there are plenty of other churches. Find one with which you can agree, start your own, or be unchurched. It's your choice.


My point being is that no one knows if someone has truly repented. The only one that knows that is God and the person themselves. Let me rephrase. I am sure there are remarried employees of that school that did not have their first marriage annulled in the church. I am sure there are employees that have sex outside of marriage repeatedly. And I bet there are employees that sin on an ongoing basis and don't repent. They are still picking and choosing.
The church does not recognize his marriage, so unless they are in his bedroom, how do they know he is actually sinning? Are they getting reports on his sexual encounters?


"My point being is that no one knows if someone has truly repented. "

But when one DECLARES unrepentance, that's an easy call.

"I am sure there are remarried employees of that school that did not have their first marriage annulled in the church."

Fine - bring it to the administration's attention with names and evidence. See what they say.

"I am sure there are employees that have sex outside of marriage repeatedly."

Repeating a sin is not evidence of unrepentance. DECLARING that one will go on repeating it is.

"The church does not recognize his marriage, so unless they are in his bedroom, how do they know he is actually sinning?"

Because he TOLD them. Marriage is a commonly understood term, and that common understanding is that it involves sex. He chose the words he used, or are you one of those who is still clinging to questions of what "is" means?


There are many celibate marriages out there. Look into it.
The Catholic Church states that being a homosexual is not a sin, but homosexual sex acts are. How do they know he is committing said acts? And if he is, how do they know he doesn't repent after each instance? It is no different from heterosexual sins.


"There are many celibate marriages out there."

The church requires otherwise - their doctrine is not to marry those incapable of consummating the marriage. Even most states set the cutoff point for legal annullment at sexual consummation. You're playing games at this point.

"And if he is, how do they know he doesn't repent after each instance?"

Because of his DECLARATION - repentance would require renouncing the declaration. What you seem to be missing here is, he knew the declaration he was making.


His declaration was to commit to a person he loves...not to have sex with him. I am not playing games, you are refusing to admit that there is hypocrisy going on in deciding which employees to discipline.
So he consummates the marriage, prays for forgiveness and repents. That is between him and God, not his employer. There are employees everyday that declare things that are considered sinful.


There is no hypocrisy occurring on which employees to discipline. If one publicly declares intention to violate a standard of the Roman Catholic Church they will be terminated.


"His declaration was to commit to a person he loves...not to have sex with him. I am not playing games,"

and the games continue... Marriage has an established legal, linguistic, and cultural meaning, and you're playing games trying to posit contorted implications that we all know are not the case. Panetta's own objections are not based on your tortured interpretation - he's never said he intended the relationship to be celibate - his objection is to the church's position on EXACTLY what he genuinely intends to do, so just cut the silly word play crap.


You don't know what goes on in his sex life anymore than you know what goes on in mine. And again, I will state, I am willing to bet there are other employees with known violations of the church who continue to do so and are not fired.


Informed: Soon after Brian Panetta was fired, the National Catholic Reporter has an interesting piece, "The firing of gay people at Catholic schools reveals church hypocrisy". The article went on to say, "The alleged reason for dismissal is the fact that they are not following the church teaching on homosexuality. The real reason is that the word is out; the public knows they are gay -- and the church is embarrassed."


"You don't know what goes on in his sex life anymore than you know what goes on in mine. "

But apparently YOU know more about it than HE does, since he hasn't raised your objection. Play your silly games. I get it, logic is hard for you.

"And again, I will state, I am willing to bet there are other employees with known violations of the church who continue to do so and are not fired."

You're welcome to name them, or bring them to the school's attention. When you do, and they tell you they're not going to act on your information, then you'll have something worth talking about.


Look, it's an entirely voluntary organization. If you don't like their policies, then don't join.




I wonder what would happen if there was a gay student there?


I bet there is at least one!


At LEAST one.

thinkagain's picture

If you're a student...then DEFINITELY!


Why is it gays don't think they have to comply with contracts they signed. Just another indication that they are self-centered people who believe in moral relativism to justify their aberrant lifestyle.


Agreed. A self absorbed narcissist under delusion that the Pope with important issues like peace in the Middle East; ending world hunger; increasing polarization between rich and poor; will take time out to meet with people obsessed with themselves.


Why is that straight people don't think they have to comply with the contracts they sign? How many employees of the church use birth control, have premarital sex, or affairs, or heck even have abortions? Guess what? The answer is not none.


Produce one example of a heterosexual who remains employed by the Church after publicly declaring intention of repeatedly committing a sin such as adultery, abortion, sex with animals, sex with children, and or sex with the same gender.


Informed can't - he's allergic to facts - just look at the comments on the article about the SMCC graduating class.


Bigotry, prejudice and grace

A very eloquent editorial by R. Kirby Godsey, the chancellor of Mercer University, regarding the the latest case of a gay band director fired by a Catholic school.

Read more here: http://www.macon.com/2014/06/01/...


First of all the Catholic church is NOT the most welcoming church and 2nd the church does NOT have to or should I say be forced to accept this or change their doctrine! Find a job in the public school system I don't think there is any rules against him being married! He himself wasn't surprised by his firing at first, but the "community" is pushing him to do something about it! I rule for the church, he signed a contract, he broke the contract simple as that!!


So I did some research. It was only in 2000 when Pope John Paul II Issued a Landmark Apology for Church Sins, including racism. People have forgotten that up to the 1950s, the American Catholic Church supported segregation and institutionalized racism, all veiled as Church doctrine. Actually it was only in 1956 when a Pastoral by Archbishop Joseph Rummel called "The Morality of Racial Segregation" started the process of rethinking "Church Racial Doctrine." We, the people, are the body of the Church. We can demand better from Church leaders and not let bigotry and discrimination exist in the form of Church Doctrine.

Common Sense

Really sad to see the number of people who will go on and on about this issue. If there are other employees of the school who are going against the doctrines of the Church, but do not DECLARE it, they will pay for it on judgement day. In signing the morality clause, employees are aware that should they, in some form, declare conflict, termination is inevitable. Let's let Brian and all other gay educators move on with their lives.


This comment was meant to be a response, re-posted it.


Common sense: I'm sure Black Catholics today are very happy that people went on and on about the issue of church doctrine regarding race in the 1950s. I'm sure the sexual abuse victims in the Diocese of Toledo are happy that people went on and on, seeking justice, while most Catholics did not want to hear about it. Sometimes individual Catholics have to demand change from the bottom up so that the Church can be true to itself. Real evil has gone on and still goes on: Yesterday, the Washington Post had this article about how 800 skeletons of babies were found inside the septic tank at a former Irish Catholic home for unwed mothers. Think about it, those nuns that in their rhetoric were sending the girls to hell were apparently also busy killing babies through starvation and neglet. Individual Catholics have a responsibility to fight the evil within the Church in every manifestation. And though sexual abuse victims and dead babies are not at the same level as what happened to Mr. Panetta, bigotry is a form of evil, no different than racism.