Sunday, January 10, 2010
The Bishop of the Diocese of Des Moines, Iowa has fired a transgendered woman who worked part time as parish housekeeper and who, as an independent social worker, had local permission to use parish offices to provide counseling for transgendered clients.
Susan McIntyre (nee Jim Ford) had gender-reassignment surgery in 1988. McIntyre already had a master's degree in social work and a desire to "work with the sickest of the sick and the poorest of the poor." She converted to Catholicism after her surgery.
The diocese is claiming the firing was due to McIntyre using a letterhead for her counseling services that included the center's name and address, thus possibly opening the church up to liability for any malpractice claims against McIntyre. As some of the parishioners pointed out, that didn't justify firing McIntyre as a housekeeper. Instead, she could have just been denied permission to conduct her counseling on church property.
A much more likely explanation of the firing comes to mind:
[Richard] Pates [bishop of Des Moines] said the church's views on homosexuality and transgenderism fall in line with two millennia of teaching, part and parcel with its overall stance on human sexuality: that sex should be reserved for marriage between a man and a woman, and in cooperation.Excuse me? Wouldn't that also preclude priests having sex with children? But the Church rather notoriously was willing to overlook that and keep the perpetrators employed, often just sending them to other parishes where their "indiscretions" were unknown. Maybe the diocese should offer to transfer Ms. McIntyre to clean another parish.
To the credit of some of the parishioners, nearly 100 of them have organized separate prayer services instead of going to Mass because they said they sought a welcoming place for all.
A good first step.
At least a lot of the Catholic faithful have managed to become far more decent people than their religious leaders.