The Diocese of Toledo, Ohio, is publicly supporting a Catholic school’s decision to force the resignation of a choir director who recently announced his engagement to his same-sex partner, according to the Sandusky Register.
Brian Panetta reportedly received a letter from administrators at Sandusky Central Catholic School, terminating his employment due to violations of Church teaching. But Panetta, who had worked at the school since 2009, reportedly accepted an offer to resign.
“I’m satisfied with their explanation, and right now I’m just praying for understanding and strength,” Panetta said according to the Register. “It’s hard for me to walk away, but it’s what’s best for me personally, and I hope my students will understand that.”
Panetta reportedly said his relationship was not a secret to the school community, as he and his partner often attended school events together. “This community has been like a family to me, and I’ve always had nothing but support,” Panetta said. “I never had to hide.”
“I knew if we ever wanted to get married, it would limit my time teaching at the school I love,” Panetta reportedly said. “When I met with the diocese, they basically told me my engagement is a public statement of my support for equality for gay marriage, which the Catholic Church does not support.”
Panetta wrote an open letter to the school community, which was published in the local newspaper. “As a proud and gay Catholic, I understand the Church’s teachings on marriage and agree that my engagement is a public statement of my position for marriage equality, which the Catholic Church does not yet support,” he wrote. “I am hopeful to see change in the future, but until then I am praying for strength and understanding and encourage my students to do the same.”
He also wrote that he was “encouraged by the leadership of Pope Francis” and would continue to seek new venues for his ministry.
The Diocese of Toledo issued a statement saying that “in light of the Church's clear teaching on sacred marriage and the fact that Mr. Panetta himself has publicly indicated his marriage plans are contrary to Church teachings and are the issue at the heart of this matter, the leadership of Sandusky Central Catholic School properly determined that his employment could not continue. When Sandusky Central Catholic School informed the diocese of the situation, the diocese fully concurred it was the correct decision and in keeping with the terms of his Teacher-Minister contract.”
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