Prairie Village, Kan. — A petition signed by more than 1,000 Catholics asks church officials to reconsider a decision banning a child of a same-sex couple from attending a local Catholic grade school, reports CBS Kansas City, Missouri affiliate KCTV. The petition is signed by parishioners of the St. Ann Catholic Church in Prairie Village, Kansas and more than 20 other parishes in the metropolitan area.
The online Google petition is addressed to Archbishop Joseph Naumann and school Superintendent Kathy O'Hara. It reads in part, "Respectfully, we believe that the decision to deny a child of God access to such a wonderful community and education, based on the notion that his or her parent's union is not in accordance with the Church's teaching in Sacramental marriage, lacks the compassion and mercy of Christ's message."
Sueann Douglas, the mother of a student in the school, told KCTV many parents learned of the decision to exclude children based on the sexual orientation of their parents from an email to school families.
The email from the St. Ann pastor, Father Craig Maxim said he "sought the advice of the archdiocese since as a parochial school we are subject to the guidance of the archdiocese on the application of church doctrine. ... The archdiocese advised against admission."
St. Ann Parish told KCTV it was directing all questions to the archdiocese. The station was waiting for a response.
Legal experts told KCTV the church is on solid ground, since it's a private institute that doesn't receive any government funding.
The Kansas City Star notes that some dioceses across the country allow children of same-sex parents to attend their schools.
But Superintendent O'Hara said in a statement to the Star that the "church's teaching on marriage is clear and is not altered by the laws of civil society. Catholic doctrine recognizes marriage "as a sacrament entered into between a man and woman."
"The Church teaches that individuals with same sex attraction should be treated with dignity," the statement read. "However, the challenge regarding same sex couples and our Catholic schools is that same sex parents cannot model behaviors and attitudes regarding marriage and sexual morality consistent with essential components of the Church's teachings."
Douglas told KCTC she and other parishioners support the archdiocese. "If people have feelings they certainly can voice them. There's no gag order … but that doesn't necessarily mean that's going to change anything," Douglas said.
"I would be completely respectful of Archbishop Naumann," Douglas added.