Does the Catholic Church consider being a victim of domestic violence reasonable grounds for getting fired? Does the Church really want to incentivize staying silent in the face of such violence?
Most Catholics would naturally say “no” to both of these questions. Apparently some key decision-makers in the Diocese of San Diego are not “most Catholics.” A second-grade teacher at Holy Trinity School in El Cajon has been fired because of her ex-husband’s threatening behavior. Her four kids have also been pulled from the school. Diocesan officials are not permitting her to teach anywhere in the diocese.
Now no parent would want a guy like this showing up at their children’s school, but neither did Carie Charlesworth, the victim. The Diocese admits that this entire situation has occurred through “no fault of her own.” Yet apparently that’s not enough.
It takes courage to be an authentic follower of Christ. That means making the right decision even if there are economic costs, such as losing the tuition payments of those who don’t want to be members of a community that is rooted in love and mutual support. That means choosing justice over comfort and ease. That means standing on the side of victims.
In her letter of termination, Diocesan representatives indicated that they were “deeply, deeply sorry about this situation.” They should be. They should be sorry, embarrassed, and ashamed.
Carie Charlesworth has not stepped inside a Catholic church since this happened. It’s not surprising. If this is acceptable behavior by the Church, then everything it claims to stand for, the principles that she taught, are merely a façade for an institution that has shifted from its original orientation, corrupted by the contemporary allure of individualism and utilitarianism.
Instead, let us hope and pray that members of the community step up and show their support for her and the true values of Catholicism—a faith animated by the radical way of Christ—and overturn the vapid, bourgeois mentality that has apparently infected those working for the Diocese of San Diego. Then, perhaps Carie Charlesworth will see that the Church stands for justice and with the vulnerable and will want to come home.