Q: Why was Ms. Ruth Kolpack fired?
A: Ms. Kolpack was let go because the Bishop is not confident she can or will present the complete and authentic teaching of the Church, the presentation of which he is responsible for in every parish in the diocese. The bishop and, by extension, every priest, pastoral associate, coordinator or director of religious education, teacher, youth group leader, etc. is called, first, to be a catechist. And every person who is charged with teaching in the name of the Church, including the bishop himself, is necessarily held to a higher standard than the average Catholic. While any Catholic may, at times, question or lack a complete understanding of a particular Church teaching, it only makes sense to expect all catechists and parish leaders to faithfully impart the authentic, complete and integral teachings of the Church, avoiding any compromise due to one’s personal opinion. That demand upon the many men and women, priests and laity, who are charged with catechesis within our Church is difficult at times, but it is a demand made in love for Christ and to which catechists are called to respond in love and humility themselves. Before the bishop made his decision, Ms. Kolpack had the opportunity to meet with him and assure him that she would faithfully carry out her role as a catechist of the Roman Catholic faith. Ms. Kolpack claimed that, in good conscience, she was unable to comply. Bishop Morlino has never questioned Ms. Kolpack’s decision, made in conscience. However, to be true to his conscience and to the oaths he took as bishop, he had to make the decision he did, as chief teacher, and to insure that the truth is being taught to our Catholic faithful.
Great point. The defenders of those whose consciences aren’t properly formed seem to forget that the bishop has to follow his conscience also.
Q: I’ve heard that this firing has to do with Ruth’s master’s thesis, would someone really be fired for something they wrote in a college?
A: Whether someone is 18 or 24 years old, or in their late 50’s, what they write in a college paper, or graduate thesis, should not be, by itself, the grounds for their termination. Statements that this is why Ms. Kolpack was fired are false. The collegiate and university settings are often the acceptable place for discussion of Church teaching and discipline. However, the parish and the work of a parish employee (especially a professional catechist) can never be the setting for such debate, especially when it involves established Church doctrine, which will not and cannot change.
Q: In addressing this issue, the diocese keeps bringing up the marks of the Church. What do the marks of the Church have to do with any of this?
A: Everything! This is what makes us Catholic. As stated in a previous question every one who wishes to call themselves Catholic must proclaim (as in the creed) faith in the fact that the church itself is one, holy, catholic and apostolic.
We are one because the Church’s source is the one God. There can only be one true church, founded by Jesus, who restores unity between creation and the Creator. We believe in: one faith, rebirth in one Baptism, only one Body, and that it is given life by the one Spirit.
We are holy because Christ, Himself, founded the Church as His bride. He gave Himself up to make her holy. At Pentecost, the Spirit of holiness gives her life. Since she still includes sinners, she is “the sinless one made up of sinners.” Her holiness shines in the saints; in Mary she is already all-holy. It is through the Church that the grace of God is distributed. We need that grace to be saved. We, likewise, are called to become holy!
We are catholic (universal) because the Church contains the fullness of the faith. She bears in herself and administers the totality of the means of salvation. She is sent out to all peoples everywhere. She speaks to all people and encompasses all times. She is missionary of her very nature. We likewise are called to assent to this fullness of the universal truths she offers and to be missionary.
We are apostolic because the Church was built on the twelve apostles, by Christ and the Holy Spirit. The Church is therefore indestructible. She is upheld infallibly in the truth because Christ governs her through Peter and the other apostles, who are present in their successors, the Pope and the college of bishops, in union with him. This is, by definition, the Magisterium of the Church.
If we fall short of really believing these lofty things, we are not being sincere when we make our profession of faith every Sunday and on every other solemnity. We cannot accept one, or only some, of these marks. We are called to believe them all, in illuminated faith. Similarly, we must always take an honest look at those beliefs which we might question and look deeper, so as to reconcile ourselves to the faith of Christ’s Church, and never the other way around. This is our faith. We ask that every baptized Catholic assent to these truths and they must be espoused, in word and deed, by all those charged with catechesis, at every level. Anything less is scandalous. (See the catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 866-870.)
I really like the format of this document of which I showed only a couple of paragraphs. I love how the Bishop has turned this into an actual “teaching moment” and has totally cleared up the reasons for his decision and even gone into the factors that did not apply to his decision. This is an excellent pastoral document which strongly teaches the truth, but not in an acerbic way.
This Diocesan web site says this was “offered” as a reply to the National Catholic Reporter because of their coverage of the story. Not that that paper will concede anything, but still this replay makes me love Bishop Morlino even more.
A tip of the Jester’s hat to Rich Leonardi.