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Bishop Issues Statement on Charlotte High Incident

Bishop Peter Jugis Bishop Peter Jugis

Bishop Peter J. Jugis, head of the diocese of Charlotte, issued a statement expressing his shock over the conduct of parents at last week's assembly at Charlotte Catholic High School who reacted with "uncharitableness and disrespect" over the hosting of a speaker who addressed Catholic teaching on sexual morality that some students found offensive.

The statement, which was issued yesterday, was brief, pointed, and contained no apologies for what Sister Jane Dominic Laurel taught during her March 21 presentation entitled, "Masculinity and Femininity: Difference and Gift."

The talk, which was based on Pope John Paul II's teaching about gender from Theology of the Body. Some of her remarks about homosexuality, single parenting and divorce, offended some students who complained to their parents. One student even went so far as to start a petition campaign denouncing the presentation that garnered about 3,000 signatures. Students who supported the presentation started a counter-drive which drew nearly 2,000 signatures.

Parents were equally incensed and the school opted to hold a special assembly on the evening of April 2 where they could hear the school's explanation for the presentation and present their own frustrations. The meeting, which drew nearly 1,000 parents, quickly reeled out of control with parents who opposed the presentation loudly booing anyone who spoke in support of it. They also condemned Father Matthew Kauth, the school chaplain who arranged the presentation even though he assured them of his best intentions when scheduling the talk.

Eyewitnesses to the event described the atmosphere in the assembly as being "hate-filled" and "disrespectful".

In his statement about the incident, which was issued on April 9, Bishop Jugis let parents know how disappointed he was with their poor behavior.

"I am shocked to hear the disturbing reports of a lack of charity and respect at the parents’ meeting, and outside the meeting in conversations and in social media," he said. "There simply is no room in the Catholic Church for such displays of uncharitableness and disrespect. If we have failed in this regard let us make amends to God and neighbor. Even when we disagree, that disagreement should be expressed respectfully in love."

He also reiterated his complete support for the teachings of the Catholic Church in regard to human sexuality.

"All of our Catholic schools are committed to hold and teach the Catholic faith in its fullness and with integrity," he said, then added, "The Catechism of the Catholic Church contains an explanation of our faith and is accessible to all."

He invited everyone involved in this affair to "move forward toward healing with charity, the hallmark of our Christian life."

He concluded: "We ask the Lord Jesus Christ for His mercy and His healing as we approach the celebrations of Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection. Please be assured of our continued dedication to the mission to teach and live the truth of the Catholic faith at our Charlotte Catholic High School."

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