by Pete Mazzaccaro
Late Friday night, Chestnut Hill College President Carol Jean Vale released a statement explaining the college’s decision to fire Father Jim St. George. The openly gay priest who has taught theology courses at the school since January 2010 learned he was fired late last week. See our story here.
In her statement, Vale confirms that the St. George’s sexual orientation was the reason he was terminated. It was, she writes, incompatible with the college’s Roman Catholic principles. She also states that the decision to fire St. George was not the result of pressure from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia or a letter from attorney James Pepper, but rather revelatory statements made by St. George on his personal blog.
According to Vale, the college did not know when it hired St. George anything about his sexual orientation or that he belonged to St. Miriam Church in Blue Bell, a church affiliated with the Old Catholic Apostolic Church of America, which allows its priests to be gay, straight, celibate or married.
Vale’s complete statement:
“As president of Chestnut Hill College, a private Catholic institution, it is imperative that I clarify the conditions of our College’s decision not to issue a new part-time teaching contract to Jim St. George. St. George served as adjunct instructor in our School of Continuing and Professional Studies from January 2010 to February of this year teaching a variety of courses in religion and scripture.
“At the time St. George joined our faculty, he presented himself as Father St. George and openly wore a traditional Catholic priest’s collar. While St. George appears to be an ordained pastor-he leads St. Miriam, an independent and self-described reformed Antioch-rite Catholic house of worship located in Blue Bell, Pa.–his church allows priests the option to engage in same-sex partnerships. This is contrary to the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.
“It was with great disappointment when we learned through St. George’s public statements of his involvement in a gay relationship with another man for the past 15 years. It is important to note that this information came to our attention only after St. George chose to make his private life public information on his blog.
“While we welcome diversity, it is expected that all members of our College community, regardless of their personal beliefs, respect and uphold our Roman Catholic mission, character and values both in the classroom and in public statements that identify them with our school. For this reason, we chose not to offer an additional teaching contract to St. George.”