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Indiana court docket sides with Catholic diocese in instructor firing

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Supreme Court docket dominated Wednesday that non secular freedom rights shield the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis from being sued by a instructor who was fired from his job at a Catholic highschool for being in a same-sex marriage.

Joshua Payne-Elliott argued in his lawsuit that archdiocese leaders wrongfully pressured his firing in 2019 from his job of 13 years as a world language and social research instructor at Cathedral Excessive College in Indianapolis by mandating that every one Catholic colleges beneath its purview implement a morality clause barring staff from getting into into same-sex marriages.

The state Supreme Court docket decision mentioned non secular establishments had the First Modification proper to resolve issues of church governance for themselves.

“The archdiocese’s determination whether or not a faculty maintains its Catholic identification is an inner matter that issues each church coverage and administration,” the choice mentioned.

Payne-Elliott married Layton Payne-Elliott, a instructor at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory College of Indianapolis, in 2017.

The archdiocese directed the colleges to fireside each males. Brebeuf didn’t adjust to the directive, after which Archbishop Charles Thompson responded by attempting to strip Brebeuf of its standing as a Catholic faculty. That motion was suspended by Vatican officers after Brebeuf appealed.

Joshua Payne-Elliott’s lawsuit claimed that the archdiocese illegally interfered along with his contractual and employment relationship with Cathedral Excessive College by inflicting the college to terminate him. He sued the archdiocese after reaching a settlement with Cathedral.

Attorneys for the archdiocese mentioned the choice upheld the rights of spiritual establishments to find out their values.

“Courts can’t resolve what it means to be Catholic — solely the church can do this,” mentioned Luke Goodrich, senior counsel on the Washington-based Becket Fund for Non secular Liberty. “By protecting the judiciary out of spiritual identification, the Indiana Supreme Court docket simply protected all non secular establishments to be free from authorities interference in deciding their core non secular values.”

Payne-Elliott identified in a press release launched by his legal professional that Cathedral Excessive College renewed his annual contract 3 times after changing into conscious of his relationship till the archdiocese intervened. He criticized state monetary assist going to colleges within the archdiocese beneath the state’s personal faculty voucher program.

“We might additionally just like the residents of Indiana to know that hundreds of thousands of taxpayer {dollars} are being redirected annually from public colleges (the place academics have enforceable contract rights and rights to be free from discrimination) to personal colleges which goal LGBTQ staff. We concern for the well-being of LGBTQ college students and school in Catholic colleges,” Payne-Elliott mentioned.

His legal professional, Kathleen DeLaney, mentioned they had been evaluating choices on probably submitting a brand new lawsuit with completely different arguments.

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