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Petition Delivered In Support Of Fired Catholic School Teacher, Calling For Reinstatement

By Kristen Johanson

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Supporters of a fired Catholic School teacher filed a petition with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia calling for her to be reinstated, after being fired in June for being in a same sex marriage.

Margie Winters, the former director of religious education at Waldron Mercy Academy, came to the Archdiocese offices with 23,000 signatures, asking Archbishop Chaput to sit down and talk.

"The biggest hope that I can get right now is that we would have a conversation with the Bishop, or with any of the Bishops to talk about inclusion in the church," Winters said.  "We would invite the Archbishop to conversation with the LGBT community."

She was fired by Academy in early June after, she says, church leaders received an anonymous tip she was married to another woman.

"The school, and the Sisters of Mercy had me in this school for 8 years.  It wasn't until the Diocese was notified, that something changed," Winters said.

The Archdiocese says Waldron Mercy Academy doesn't fall under their purview, but the Archbishop Chaput has said in the past he agrees with the school's decision.

Supporter and 8-year-old Waldron student Mae, supports the effort.

"When it was sometimes birthday, she would sing a song with us about having a birthday.  And she helped us out a lot in Kindergarten.  I think she shouldn't have been fired."

A statement by the Archdiocese, released Monday, says:

"The basis of the petition itself is problematic. As has been noted several times, Waldron Mercy is a private Catholic school and does not fall under the administrative purview of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. It's wrong for any individual or group to perpetuate the falsehood that the Archbishop interfered with the school's personnel decisions.

That being said, Archbishop Chaput continues to fully support the decision made by the leadership of Waldron Mercy. He remains grateful to the Religious Sisters of Mercy and to the principal and board members of Waldron Mercy for taking the steps to ensure that the Catholic faith is presented in a way fully in accord with the teaching of the Church. Schools describing themselves as Catholic take on the responsibility of teaching and witnessing the Catholic faith in a manner true to Catholic belief. The petition being presented does not change that stance."


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