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After Benet Academy Hires Gay Lacrosse Coach, Abbot Who Oversees School Says He Is 'Deeply Troubled'

LISLE, Ill. (CBS) -- Benet Academy in Lisle hired a gay lacrosse coach last week after previously rescinding the offer because she is married to a woman – but in a new twist, the abbey that oversees the Catholic school has come down with strong words.

Last week, the board of directors at Benet Academy announced they had extended a job offer to Amanda Kammes to be the next head girls' lacrosse coach. The board said Kammes has accepted the offer.

The board noted that Benet Academy is a Catholic high school, and had deferred its employment discussions with Kammes after learning she is married to a woman. But the school's board has since determined that Kammes is the right candidate and offered her the job, the board said.

This move came after protests from students, alumni, and faculty members about the school's earlier choice to rescind Kammes' job offer over her sexual orientation.

But on Tuesday, Abbot Austin G. Murphy of St. Procopius Abbey – which oversees Benet – said he was "deeply troubled" by a decision that goes against Catholic Church teaching.

"The matter raises the question of what a Catholic high school should require from those who work with and form its students. In particular, is it necessary that the witness of their public lives not be in opposition to Catholic moral teaching?" he wrote. "I believe this requirement is necessary and, therefore am deeply troubled by the school's decision which calls into question its adherence to the doctrines of the Catholic faith. In turn, I want to let everyone know that I am taking this matter to prayer and discerning how to proceed."

Austin went on to write that Pope Francis "has been clear that our love and respect for all persons is not in contradiction with Church doctrine on the sacrament of matrimony and teachings on sexuality," and added that beliefs about the morality of same-sex relationships should not be equated with hate.

"(I)t is important to note that honest disagreements about the morality of homosexual acts should not be construed as hate," Austin wrote. "If we give in to the voices that say that disagreement equals hate, then we allow civil discourse to perish."

Benet Academy declined to comment Tuesday on the abbot's role with the school or whether he has the power to rescind the offer to Kammes again.

More than 2,000 people had signed a petition urging that Benet Academy in Lisle reconsider and hire Kammes. They said her track record as a lacrosse coach should be the main focus for her employment, not the woman she loves.

"The most frustrating piece of this is that Amanda was not being hired as a religion teacher, or in a position where she would be responsible for supporting the Catholic Church's practices or religious traditions," Benet Academy alum Tim Jacklich told CBS 2's Suzanne Le Mignot last week.

Kammes' supporters said the job offer was rescinded after Kammes listed her wife's name as an emergency contact.

"This former student, who is interested in coming back and supporting her school - she was not valuable, or not worthy of recognition and celebration, because of who she loves," Jacklich said.

Also speaking out on the subject was Benet Academy assistant lacrosse coach Colleen Savell.

"One hundred percent it was pulled because who she was married to," Savell told CBS 2's Charlie De Mar last week. "I want the girls and the students at Benet to know that this is not OK. This is not the example that we should be setting for the students here."

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