St. Gabriel Parish employee terminated from music ministry
CHARLOTTE — Steav Congdon, the leader of the music ministry at St. Gabriel Parish, was terminated from his position Jan. 19 after violating the Diocese of Charlotte employee ethics policy, diocesan officials said Feb. 10.
St. Gabriel's pastor, Father Francis O'Rourke, sent an email to parishioners about the termination on Feb. 10 after learning that the former employee had spoken with Charlotte area media about being fired.
The diocese does not typically comment on personnel matters in individual parishes, but diocesan officials decided to comment in this case after a Charlotte area newspaper indicated it planned to publish a story about Congdon's termination later this week.
According to the termination letter, Congdon was fired from his post as music minister at St. Gabriel Parish by Father O'Rourke when it came to Father O'Rourke's attention that Congdon had joined another man in a civil union recognized as a marriage by the State of New York – a public act that is in disobedience to Church teaching and which violates the diocese's employee ethics policy.
Marriage can only be the union between one man and one woman, as established in natural law and set forth as a holy sacrament by Christ and His Church. Church teaching emphasizes that all people, including those with a homosexual orientation, are made in the image of God and therefore deserving of dignity and respect, but that the sacrament of matrimony is designed by God as the basis for family life and the conceiving and raising of children.
As with all employees of the Diocese of Charlotte, Congdon agreed upon his employment in 2004 to follow the diocese's ethics policy and a personnel policy that requires employees to conduct themselves in a manner consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church. The employee handbook requiring this standard of conduct was updated in 2009, along with an ethics policy that requires employee conduct that is in keeping with Church teaching.
"His same-sex union in 2011 was in direct opposition to those policies and the teachings of the Catholic Church, and his termination was based on this alone," said David Hains, diocesan director of communication. Hains continued, "Individuals engaged in ministry while at the same time in opposition to Church teaching present a confusing message to the people of faith who look to the Church for guidance on their journey to salvation."
— Patricia L. Guilfoyle, editor