For the past fifteen years, James St. George has taught religious studies part-time at Chestnut Hill College, a Catholic college in Pennsylvania.
Last week he received a letter from the college telling him that his services were no longer needed.
Two interesting details about St. George: he has been in a committed relationship with a man for the past fourteen years. He is also the pastor at St. Miriam, an Old Catholic parish.
Administrators at Chestnut Hill have known all along that St. George was an ordained priest in this tradition. In fact, Chestnut Hill asked him to take a faculty position at the suggestion of some of his parishioners who also work at the college.
St. George’s students who googled him were also aware that he is a gay man. Though he didn’t speak about it in the classroom, the information could be found through a cursory web search.
In what is surely not a coincidence, just days before St. George was notified that his contract wouldn’t be renewed, a local lawyer, James Pepper, wrote a letter of concern to Cardinal Rigali and two Chestnut Hill officials.
Apparently, Pepper read a column in the February 17 issue of the Philadelphia Daily News about St. George’s parish.
The column centered on an ad campaign that St. Miriam’s had recently launched. Some of the ads criticized the Roman Catholic Church for its mishandling of the sexual abuse crisis.
But the real issue, it seems, is St. George’s sexual orientation.
According to the Huffington Post, Chestnut Hill claims that it fired St. George because of “public statements of his involvement in a gay relationship with another man for the past 15 years.”
Read more of St. George’s story here.