The open line: Mount St. Mary hits the New York Times | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The open line: Mount St. Mary hits the New York Times

Posted By on Sat, Dec 14, 2013 at 4:53 PM

IN THE SUNDAY TIMES: The story of Tippi McCullough (right) shown with her spouse Barbara Mariani and Chad Griffin, also quoted in Frank Bruni's column. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • IN THE SUNDAY TIMES: The story of Tippi McCullough (right) shown with her spouse Barbara Mariani and Chad Griffin, also quoted in Frank Bruni's column.

Here's an open line. I also have handy an early version of Frank Bruni's column in the Sunday New York Times. I'll provide a link when it's available.

Bruni writes about Tippi McCullough, the veteran teacher forced to quit her job at Mount St. Mary Academy after she married her long-time partner Barbara Mariani. 

Bruni contrasts the absence of condemnation from new Pope Francis for the divorced, women seeking abortions and gay people with actions by Catholic officials elsewhere. He writes — and quotes from reports on the Arkansas Blog — mainly about Arkansas:

The memo also didn’t make it to Little Rock, Ark., where Tippi McCullough, 50, got the ax after 14 years as an English teacher at a high school affiliated with the Sisters of Mercy. This was in October. Her crime, too, was to take a relationship that Catholic co-workers apparently knew about and formalize it. She told me last week that she and her longtime partner had even been overnight guests on the school principal’s houseboat. But when school officials learned that the couple had just been legally married in one of the New Mexico counties where that’s now possible, they told her they had to let her go, though she hadn’t announced the wedding or given any signal that she was going to be more public about her partnership than before.

Her dismissal upset some school employees, one of whom apparently gave The Arkansas Times remarks that another Francis — Msgr. Francis I. Malone, a local priest — made in a faculty meeting afterward. “The devil is real,” he reportedly said. “He goes after people like you and institutions like this one.”

“Don’t give in to him,” Malone added. “Rise up above this like the good and decent people God has made you to be.” In a subsequent exchange with the newspaper, Malone didn’t deny those remarks but said that they weren’t meant to characterize McCullough or her situation.

McCullough said that she was struggling to reconcile the stated mission of the Sisters of Mercy with how she was treated. “Our whole school is founded on the mercy values,” she told me. “Things like the recognition of the intrinsic worth and dignity of each person and respect for varied religious traditions and beliefs.” But that recognition isn’t “applied equally to everyone,” she added. “That’s the hardest thing for me. And I loved teaching there.”

Bruni uses the McCullough case to make the obvious point that, warm as Pope Francis' remarks have been, the church itself still moves glacially and too many examples remain of the meting out of unneeded punishment. This  forces gay people to choose secrecy over honesty, he writes.

Bruni cites other cases like McCullough's, including the forced resignation of a church organist in Atlanta after it became known he had a male fiancé. He quotes, too, Arkansas native Chad Griffin, leader of the Human Rights Campaign, whose gay rights organization has identified nine similar cases in the U.S.

McCullough told Bruni, as she had remarked to us earlier, that many employees routinely ignore the morals clauses they sign and aren't reprimanded or removed for such things as divorce or use of birth control. But then, in unpredictable ways, the clauses are enforced. He concludes:

McCullough recently took a new job with Little Rock Central High School, which, she proudly noted, was an important theater in the struggle for civil rights. Still, she feels a profound loss, and is drifting away from a church she loved. I asked her if she’d known how the school would react, would she have married anyway?

Yes, she said. A thousand times yes. She’s finished with one-half openness or three-quarters openness or whatever calculation she’d made. “As I told the principal, I’m 50 years old,” she said. “I’m tired of this. I’ve tried to play this game my whole life. I don’t want to do it anymore.”

Tags: , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (23)

Showing 1-23 of 23

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-23 of 23

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Potlatch acquires Deltic Timber

    Two major woodlands companies, Potlatch and Deltic Timber, are combining in a stock deal that will leave Potlatch shareholders with 65 percent control of the new company, which will be organized as a real estate investment trust. Potlatch is acquiring Deltic by giving its shareholders 1.8 shares of Potlatch for each Deltic share, making the deal worth about $1.18 billion.
    • Oct 23, 2017
  • The Monday Democrat-Gazette was slimmer this morning

    Did your Monday morning Arkansas Democrat-Gazette include a business section?
    • Oct 23, 2017
  • Might the Weinstein case lead to a safer world for women?

    The exposure of Harvey Weinstein's serial offenses against women is quickly progressing far beyond the story of one man. It has begun to raise the question of whether it might, in time, change the world in treatment of women.
    • Oct 23, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Judge Griffen: Why black lives matter

    Another few words from Judge Wendell Griffen growing from the controversy over the sale of Black Lives Matter T-shirts at the state black history museum — removed by the administration and restored after protests from Griffen and others stirred by a story in the Arkansas Times:
    • Mar 13, 2016
  • Arkansas Supreme Court refuses to rehear invalidation of marijuana act

    The Arkansas Supreme Court today denied a request to rehear its decision invalidating Issue 7, the medical marijuana initiated act.
    • Nov 3, 2016
  • More on how highways were used to wipe out "blight" of non-white neighborhoods

    Vox, a news website that concerns itself with energy and other issues, has a fine piece, including before and after images, on the history of the U.S. interstate system and why roads were built through the middle of cities (unless people of influence stopped them — see Manhattan, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.)
    • Mar 22, 2016

People who saved…

Most Shared

  • Discussion: State killing of the mentally ill

    The Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and others will have a forum on mental illness and the death penalty at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Bowen School of Law's Friday Courtroom.

Most Viewed

  • The Monday Democrat-Gazette was slimmer this morning

    Did your Monday morning Arkansas Democrat-Gazette include a business section?
  • Hog football: The lawyers take over

    If you believe social media, it's all over but the post-season buyout for Razorback football coach Bret Bielema. That means, in turn, that the issue of what the coach's contract buyout is worth is not just an academic question.
  • Might the Weinstein case lead to a safer world for women?

    The exposure of Harvey Weinstein's serial offenses against women is quickly progressing far beyond the story of one man. It has begun to raise the question of whether it might, in time, change the world in treatment of women.
  • Potlatch acquires Deltic Timber

    Two major woodlands companies, Potlatch and Deltic Timber, are combining in a stock deal that will leave Potlatch shareholders with 65 percent control of the new company, which will be organized as a real estate investment trust. Potlatch is acquiring Deltic by giving its shareholders 1.8 shares of Potlatch for each Deltic share, making the deal worth about $1.18 billion.

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation