Bishop's statement on status of teacher at Immaculata High School, Somerville

20 Mar 2015

My dear brothers and sisters,

We are a compassionate Catholic community committed to treating our students, faculty and parishioners with respect. We have never wavered from our traditional Catholic teachings.

To that end we need to correct some misstatements with regard to the teacher in question.

The teacher’s comments were disturbing and do not reflect the Church’s teachings of acceptance. However, she has never been terminated, as some media outlets have reported. She has been put on administrative leave. There has been no interruption in her pay and benefits.

Pope Francis reminds us that we are to accept all of our brethren. We must ensure that our educators steer away from harsh and judgmental statements that can alienate and divide us.

We regret that certain individuals and groups are using inaccurate media reports to push their own agendas.

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In his homilies and public addresses, Pope Francis often speaks of the importance of forgiveness in our lives as Catholic Christians.
In his very first Angelus back in March 2013, the pope told the crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square, “The Lord never tires of forgiving. It is we who tire of asking for forgiveness.”  Jesus likes us to tell him even our worst sins, he said, and that even then, “He forgets; he has a special ability to forget.” 
The pope echoed these sentiments recently during a Mass at the Santa Marta residence, adding that confession is not a judgment but a meeting with God who forgives all our sins, without exception. “It’s about going to meet with our Father who pardons us, who forgives us and who rejoices,” he said, because what matters for God is for us to meet with him.
We know that Lent is a time to pray, fast and give alms. Throughout our 40-day Lenten journey, we are called also to reflect on our Baptismal promises and our call to live a life that is holy and pleasing to Our Lord…a life that mirrors His example. It’s a time for us to think about ways to be more merciful to others, including forgiving those who have hurt us. In our humanity, the act of forgiving often can be challenging but, nonetheless, it is something we should strive toward with constancy.
During a recent meeting with Vatican employees, Pope Francis encouraged those present to “Heal wounds of the heart with the oil of forgiveness, forgiving those who have hurt us and medicating the wounds we have caused others.”
When we acknowledge our sins – when we are truly sorry – and ask for God’s pardon through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we are able to experience an intimate encounter with a loving, merciful and compassionate Father, who offers us His unconditional forgiveness. Pope Francis reminds us again and again that we are to have complete confidence in this teaching, saying, “There is no sin which He won’t pardon. He forgives everything.” As Disciples of Christ, this is to be our model approach.
In reciting the Lord’s Prayer, we proclaim: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.” Every act of forgiveness offers us a chance for a new beginning, a chance to unload our burdens, and a chance to grow closer in our relationships. It is a way for us to draw nearer to God, Our Father, who invites us to experience a true sense of peace and comfort that comes only through sincere Reconciliation and who rejoices when we extend that same “oil of forgiveness” to our brothers and sisters in His Kingdom on Earth.
The peace of Christ be with you this Lent!
Sincerely in the Lord,
             
Most Reverend Paul G. Bootkoski
Bishop of Metuchen