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NYCLU Defends Pregnant School Teacher Fired By School

November 2005 Statement of Eileen Moran Re: McCusker vs St Rose of Lima & Brooklyn Diocese Catholics For a Free Choice (CFFC) promotes sexual and reproductive ethics that are based on justice, reflect a commitment to women’s well being, and respect and affirm the moral capacity of women and men to make sound and responsible decision about their lives. This mission is in keeping with orthodox Catholic teaching in which the conscience of the individual is at the core of moral decision making. I’m here today as a Board member of CFFC, to support Ms McCusker. Choosing to become a parent is a serious decision that Ms McCusker had a right to make without fear of reprisal from her employer. Ironically had she been a student in a Catholic institution, and a pregnant single woman, Church authorities would have counseled her, indeed may have even pressured her, to continue her pregnancy. Yet, as her employer, in spite of all the official pronouncements of being pro-child, pro-parent, and pro-family, St Rose fired her. Ms McCusker has chosen a difficult path, single parenthood. In terminating her employment she now confronts single parenthood without a job or health insurance. While the NY Civil Liberties Union rightly focuses on the blatant discrimination that the firing represents I am appalled by the unjust, unethical treatment she has received. I believe this firing violates the Church’s own teaching on the rights of workers to be treated justly and with respect. St Rose and the Brooklyn Diocese behaved abysmally and hypocritically in its firing of Ms McCusker. However, the response of St Rose and the Diocese can not be separated from the Church hierarchy’s long history of unfair and unequal treatment of women and its poor, inadequate understanding of human sexuality. The faithful are still reeling from the scandals associated with Bishops’ repeated cover-ups of priests who sexually abused children. Note well, these men sexually abusing children in most cases were neither fired nor disciplined by their immediate supervisors, their pastors, or their bishops. Rather they were given the benefit of the doubt, over and over again. While the Church has explicit teachings on a great many areas from war to capital punishment it only chooses to exercise its power as employers on issues related to sexuality, particularly women’s sexuality, which surely imposes an unfair, discriminatory burden on women. Surely religious organizations if anything must be held to a higher standard in treating staff justly rather than permit church institutions to blatantly ignore employees’ civil rights.

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