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Catholic college fires priest after learning he is gay

Monday, February 28, 2011
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Rev. James St. George

PHILADELPHIA — Chestnut Hill College, a Catholic institution, has fired a part-time professor after learning the cleric was gay. The college said that the Reverend’s conduct was “contrary to the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.”

The college acted shortly after a Philadelphia man sent a letter to the archdiocese complaining that Chestnut Hill was employing a gay priest.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports:

The college, in a statement, said it terminated the Rev. James St. George after he made “public statements of his involvement in a gay relationship with another man for the past 15 years.” The statements apparently were in a blog.

The private Catholic school seemed to suggest that St. George had somehow misled the college during his hiring process.

It appeared surprised to discover — well after it hired him in 2009 to teach Bible studies and other subjects — that he belonged to a branch of Catholicism that is not associated with the Vatican and allows priests to be actively gay.

St. George said that he was open with Chestnut Hill officials that while he is a priest, he is not a Roman Catholic priest — and that he asked if that was an issue when he was hired.

College officials appeared surprised that St. George belonged to a branch of Catholicism not associated with the Vatican that has different views on gay issues.

The church where St. George is a pastor is “affiliated with the Old Catholic Apostolic Church of America, which vows no discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and performs commitment ceremonies for gays and lesbians,” the Associated Press reported.

“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,” said Carol Jean Vale, President of Chestnut Hill College, in a statement Friday.

“For this reason, we chose not to offer an additional teaching contract to St. George,” she said.

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