Go away, gay

Matt Westerhold
Jan 20, 2014

The firing of Brian Panetta as the St. Mary Central Catholic High School band and choir director is one sad story, on so many levels.

The saddest part, perhaps, is the school had the courage to hire Panetta nearly five years ago likely knowing from the beginning he was gay. That was a courageous step for a Catholic school, and Panetta thrived as director, doubling the size of the band and giving it back its “Panther Pride.”

From a believer's perspective, one might think God had a lot to do with Panetta getting hired in the first place; he served those students for 4½ years and nobody has even suggested he did not serve them, and their families, well. He, and they, both appear to have prospered from the experience.

Men and women who don't have faith often envy those who do and wish they too could be believers. From a non-believer's perspective, however, the decision to fire Panetta might appear to be a man-made occurrence in defiance of the universe, in defiance of God.

Click here to read related articles and watch interview with Panetta

It wasn't an easy decision for the school and church doctrine appears to mandate that Panetta be cast aside and sent away from the parish he loved and the parish that loved him. Panetta could have stayed as long as he didn't make a “public” statement about who he really was, as long as he agreed to deny his own self-worth in front of the God who created him, and the world.

It's difficult for many to understand that hide the sin-use the sinner hypocrisy. It creates an image of Panetta being cast out in shame from the great institution St. Mary's is, and always has been, despite past difficulties with real sexual misconduct involving priests.

There also likely have been gay parishioners who gave a lifetime of devotion to the church and school, and past staff members at St. Mary's, who, as long as they denied their own sexual identities, were allowed to “sin” and prosper in the faith.

Making good people hide their true selves, for people of faith, must be like forcing them to deny God's perfection in creating them differently than he created others. And it's likely those past people of faith struggled with that every day of their faithful lives.

Understanding God is easier, perhaps, than understanding church doctrine, and the decision to fire Panetta does appear to have come more from outside Sandusky, and even outside the reach of the Toledo Diocese..

Again, these were difficult decisions made in the clash of 2,000-year-old tradition and belief system against the modern enlightenment that every person — regardless of orientation — has the right to love and marry the person they choose, and to love God.

But the battle over words that ensued after Panetta was fired, over the terminology to describe the separation and who made the decision, also seemed disingenuous. It was a speak the lie-hide the truth approach. Panetta was fired. Period. If they agreed to let him return, he likely would be at the school Monday morning.

Initially, school officials seemed to want to make it clear that Brian resigned, and was not fired. But firing someone one day and giving them the chance to resign a week later or remain fired is still a firing. It's sad that the “public face” they hoped to portray is not the “true face.”

There was a similar word game as to where the decision was made, with the Diocese initially suggesting it was a local decision, and local school officials suggesting it was forced by the diocese. In the end, the edict likely comes from Rome, and the men and women involved here appear to have tried their best to do what they felt compelled to do.

And one last time, these were difficult decisions in a changing world involving a religion that cherishes its traditions and beliefs and is slow to change or evolve. Local decision makers and the Diocese missed an opportunity to speak truth and foster a change that many — including Catholics — believe is needed.

Panetta seems to be a person more clear in his convictions who knows who he is, as a man, as a teacher, as a Catholic and as a musician and future spouse to Nathan than most of us do.

And he should know, his presence in Sandusky has changed us and sparked a conversation that might never have happened without him. It is truly a teachable moment, as he suggested, and the lessons for his students, especially, and for the community at large, will be reviewed and considered by many for a long time to come.

Watch the "between the Lines" interview with Panetta

 

Comments

Dcfred20036

Alert: New York Times now reporting on this, links back to SR's original story!

John Harville

HAPPY BIRTHDAY POPE FRANCIS I

This man has done more in a few months than any Pope since Blessed John XXII

Long life and prosperity as you bring us into greater realization of the mission Jesus has for us.

Dcfred20036

John-- how do you know this stuff??! Interesting to read that in his time
the spirituals accused Pope John XXII of heresy, because he was determined to suppress their excesses. Maybe Francis will have an easier time, maybe not. Hard to give up the bling!

John Harville

Which 'this stuff'?
You mentioned the satanic murder of a Sister of Mercy. Nobody has mentioned the brouhaha at the RSM cemetery in Fremont, Ohio, when her body was exhumed and the media gathered in a connecting Catholic cemetery to photograph/film the event - the Catholic cemetery where the Bishop is buried.
I'm just aware of what goes on around me. I attend Sts. Peter and Paul to consume Christ in Holy Eucharist. But I've had a diverse career in six decades - and experienced the Catholic Church in most of its modern transitions.

John Harville

BTW Dcfred... it gives one a rare insight to be on retreat with a group of priests and witness these men frolicking in the pool in their speedos and other trunks, gorging on gourmet foods, insisting all the liquor be only top shelf and sitting in smoke-filled rooms paying poker.
It's even more interesting to be at a winetasting hosted by a group of nuns who have fine tastes in wine... or stumble upon them in their bikinis at the private lake on the convent grounds

John Harville

Gay Marriages Confront Catholic School Rules, via @nytimes http://t.co/whYfLRFx9Z

HERE IT IS. SCCS in the heart of the story with direct link to SR. Way to go SCCS and Diocese of Toledo. Congratulations beloved Mrs. Curtis... finally your school has made national news.

Dcfred20036

Here is an image of the front page article, as it appeared in print:

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Q0d1NB...

John Harville

Thanks. I saw it. In fact six FB friends posted it on my newsfeed and it's on my timeline. Also sent it to the Diocese cuz they really need to know.

Other note: Some on here are saying Diocese sent someone to the District. Just need to note that SCCS Board member Christopher M. Knight, an attorney in Clyde, also is Diocesan Catholic Schools Secretariat according to the Diocesan Organization Chart. If Chris 'came' it was only about 20 miles.
One on here also said (which I apparently missed) that Brian was handed his letter during a basketball game that Friday.

sanduskymom

Sorry John, looks like you are "Brewing" up a story!

https://www.toledoblade.com/Educ...

Somehow the reporter forgot to mention that he's an attorney from Clyde?

doctorsRdrugdealer

Half of you people should go ahead and pray now!! In the name of the lord Jesus Christ Devil be gone!!! AMEN!

John Harville

God IS!

Dcfred20036

Maybe God is indeed returning back to the Diocese of Toledo...I think he was absent for a few years!

John Harville

One thing we teach in Confirmation is that God never leaves us...we just turn away.

I was taught by my Catholic Aunt that God has a golden thread around the heart of each Catholic. No matter how far the Catholic wanders, sometime God will tug on that thread and bring the Catholic back.

NOTE: in the same family I also had a 7th Day Adventist aunt, a Jewish cousin, a holy roller Protestant aunt, an aunt who moved her family to a Nazarene Commune, a Quaker aunt, a mennonite aunt, and even a Jehovah's Witness (from whom I never got a birthday present). I'm covered.

John Harville

have you seen the latest on the non-prosecuted pedophile OHP trooper? He was 'warned' twice that he was being investigated... follow THAT story and then please be a bit more outraged than you are that people are questioning RCC.

pigeon farmer

St Mary's protected Fr Dennis P Gray. Religion is dangerous.

John Harville

www.toledoblade.com/oldsaxolinks...

This is the story about the Oscar-nominated documentary about the man/men abused by F. Gray.

pigeon farmer

St Mary's protected Fr Dennis P Gray. Religion is dangerous.

Dcfred20036

Pigeon, is this the case you mean?

http://www.toledoblade.com/front...

People all this stuff is new to me-- I'm sick to my stomach reading about it. I don't think religion is dangerous, but secrets are. Evil always thrives on secrecy and indifference.

sugar

Very sickening , those poor defiled children. Cops, priests abusing our children. Wonderful.

John Harville

FINALLY DCFRed I found this post.
Yes. Dennis Gray is one of the saddest stories... but check the list of priests named in the RICO case. You might be surprised who you find.

John Harville

DCFred... Go here and get the link to watch the documentary that was nominated for an Academy Award.

www.toledoblade.com/oldsaxolinks...

Feb 27, 2005 · Like many Central students, he was drawn to the Rev. Dennis Gray. "Father Denny" was a tough-talking, ... Father Gray began molesting the 14-year-old

This just scratches the surface of the story.

John Harville

One reason I continue 'calling out' bad actions like SCCS.

https://fbexternal-a.akamaihd.ne...

Gays cause autism? This kind of logic is 'out there' - but it's also 'out here'/

John Harville

SANDUSKY MOM. I stand corrected, the Diocesan Superintendent of Education Christopher M. Knight is not the one about whom I conjectured.
Are you then verifying for us that THIS Christopher M. Knight is the same one listed on the SCCS Board of Directors?
Are you then verifying for us that THIS Christopher M. Knight is "the person form the Diocese" who came to tell Mr. Panetta of his termnation?

Dcfred20036

John-- two blog entries I posted today that may be of interest to you: 1) an Eastside Catholic student writes about the hypocrisy at the school- not all "sins" being punished equally .... 2) Speaking of timely, there is a movie coming out about -and get this- a music teacher fired by a Catholic School after getting married to another man. It has gotten very good reviews at Sundance. Google hirebrianback! for easy find.

John Harville

Amazing. And the school's president - a nun - resigned?
Don't miss the chance to see the documentary about F. Gray.

John Harville

Students at a Washington State Catholic school that fired its gay swim coach Mr. Zmuda when the President discovered he had married his male companion have organized a "national “Mr. Z” day, asking people across the country to wear orange on January 31"
Followup... the President of the School has resigned.

sugar

It's a shame that the community here is too frightened to speak out but they are. If parents of students spoke out their children would be bullied and ostracized by the school and by the good Catholics (and their kids) like Northstar, Karma, Sandmom, Nemisis, Babo. Bullying by this group happens over much less.

Nemesis

To Sugar, bullying means expecting people to support their assertions with something other than their feelings.

sugar

That makes no sense. I could give a rats a** if you support my assertions or not.

Nemesis

Do you even know how to read? Tell you what, why don't you read what I wrote again, and see if you can comprehend it this time, and then respond?

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