Behaviors that Are Contrary to Church Teaching Cannot Be Offered to Young People as a Witness to the Faith

by Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr

Descriptive Title

Letter From Archbishop Schnurr to the Members of the Alter High School Family


Cincinnati Archbishop Dennis Schnurr defended the teacher's firing, saying that sometimes "an individual and an organization are simply no longer compatible — nothing more, nothing less," in a letter dated May 1, 2020, to the Archbishop Alter High School community in Kettering, Ohio.

Publisher & Date

Archdiocese of Cincinnati, May 1, 2020

Office of the Archbishop May 1, 2020

Dear Members of the Archbishop Alter High School Family,

Recently a decision was made to not renew the annual contract of a long-time and highly valued teacher at Archbishop Alter High School. This development has naturally precipitated a great outpouring of sadness and anger, as this teacher was very obviously highly-regarded and well-liked by many Alter students and parents.

We have also seen a great deal of misinformed and mean-spirited comments in emails and social media, much of it directed personally against principal Lourdes Lambert and her family. This is immoral and unfair. Mrs. Lambert is faithfully fulfilling her responsibility as principal of a Catholic high school and employee of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Personal attacks against her and her family are not acceptable.

The policies guiding schools of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati are informed by the enduring teaching of the Catholic Church – not by hate, bigotry, or homophobia, as some have alleged. We respect and love all our brothers and sisters because they and we are each made in the image and likeness of God. The inherent dignity of every human being does not mean, however, that all behavior is to be condoned. The Catholic Church contains what we, as Catholics, believe to be the truth about God’s plan for human flourishing, and our teachers are asked to be witnesses to that truth in both word and deed. In fact, it is a condition of employment, as is clearly spelled out in our teacher-minister contract.

There is no doubt that each of us is a sinner, so perfection is not the standard. And we do not judge people, as such judgment is reserved for God alone, only behavior. Behaviors that are not regrettable mistakes but are rather confirmed life choices contrary to Catholic teaching cannot be offered to young people as a witness to the faith, no matter the many other outstanding attributes a person may possess. Sometimes, personal decisions mean that an individual and an organization are simply no longer compatible – nothing more, nothing less. We hope and pray that you might prayerfully consider this.

It saddens all of us that this matter has caused a fracture in the wonderful, strong Alter community. My hope and prayer is that we are able to stay united in charity as members of the family of God. May God bless you this day and always.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Dennis M. Schnurr
Archbishop of Cincinnati

Pastoral Center | 100 East Eighth Street | Cincinnati, Ohio 45202 |

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