Tuesday, September 30, 2014

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Charlotte Catholic student petition taken offline

CHARLOTTE  — The Charlotte Catholic High School student who launched a petition critical of a recent assembly on human sexuality has taken it down and thanked supporters.

The petition at www.change.org garnered 4,689 names – some real, some fabricated – before being closed by the author, who is not being identified in the Catholic News Herald.

UPDATE: Bishop Peter J. Jugis issued a statement April 9. Read it here.

It was drafted in response to a talk by Sister Jane Dominic Laurel, a Dominican from Nashville, Tenn., and a frequent speaker in the Diocese of Charlotte. She spoke to an all-school assembly March 21 on "Masculinity and Femininity: Difference and Gift," which explains Catholic teaching about gender using Blessed Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body. The assembly, arranged by the school's chaplain, was based on a series of instructional videos she created for Aquinas College in Nashville where she is an associate professor. She has a doctorate in sacred theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome.

The petition listed 10 objections to the presentation, concluding with "We the students of Charlotte Catholic High School are confused why time was spent condemning the practice of homosexuality," it said in part.

In the wake of ensuing anger from parents, along with national media scrutiny over the assembly and the actions of school officials, Sister Jane withdrew from a scheduled May appearance in the Diocese of Charlotte. The president of Aquinas College, Sister Mary Sarah Galbraith, issued a statement April 4 that Sister Jane was taking a sabbatical from teaching.

In the message announcing it was being closed, the author of the petition wrote, "Thank you to everyone in the CCHS community who supported my petition. I have now removed it from change.org because I feel that its goal has been accomplished. I wanted to call attention to something I felt was wrong so that something similar would not happen in the future. Certainly enough attention has been brought to the issue, and I believe that our school system is working towards a meaningful change. The petition has served its purpose and can now be put to rest. It's time to look forward and not backward. Not forget but move on. The Charlotte Catholic community is one I have grown up with and love. I have faith that our community can weather this storm."

A counter petition also launched on www.change.org entitled "Stand Up for Catholic Beliefs" is still online and had more than 2,500 commenters as of April 8.

— Patricia L. Guilfoyle, editor