BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. (AP) – The Catholic nuns who operate a suburban Detroit school plan to re-examine policies regarding the decision to fire a gay teacher after she became pregnant.
Sister Mary Jane Herb, president of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, said in a letter to Marian High School alumnae Sept. 22 that the congregation has been inspired to view similar incidents with a different outlook, the Detroit Free Press reported.
“Pope Francis has brought a sense of hope to our lives and encourages us to look at our Church with new eyes,” she said. “No, it is not likely that doctrine will change, however the Pope emphasizes that the values of mercy, inclusion and compassion need to be included in our response to complex situations.”
It was shared Sept. 23 on a Facebook page created to support the school’s former science teacher Barbara Webb of Madison Heights.
After notifying her employers of her pregnancy in July, the 33-year-old teacher was fired from the all-girls high school in Bloomfield Hills the following month, she said, after working there for nine years. Her termination letter didn’t provide a reason for dismissal, but Webb said administrators indicated the decision stemmed from her lifestyle decisions. The school’s morality clause states employees can be fired for actions that are “directly contradictory to the Catholic faith.”
Herb’s letter doesn’t mention Webb by name. But it said the congregation will work with school officials to “re-examine policies and procedures” and “others with expertise will provide various perspectives before a decision is made.”
“When situations such as the one that emerged recently occur, the IHM community will provide a team of consultants to work with the administration,” Herb said in her letter.
Webb said she was happy after reading Herb’s letter because it opens the door for change.
“I was relieved that someone had responded. To me, it was a response for a positive outlook for change . It just opens the door for a new conversation, and that’s what I was hoping for from the beginning,” she said.