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Charlotte Bishop Jugis calls for peace in uproar over nun’s speech at Charlotte Catholic High School, but criticizes some parents

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/04/07/14/56/32wOE.Em.138.jpg|240
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    Sister Jane Dominic Laurel
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/04/09/20/52/jzIU3.Em.138.jpeg|316
    John D. Simmons - jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com
    Bishop Peter Jugis

Bishop Peter Jugis has finally weighed in on the controversy that recently rocked Charlotte Catholic High School, saying the last few weeks have been “very difficult” for the school and that all concerned have “experienced a great deal of pain.”

In a statement Wednesday addressed to Catholics in the 46-county Diocese of Charlotte, Jugis said that after all the debate over a divisive speech at the school, it’s now time to “move forward toward healing with charity.”

But in comments likely to further inflame the situation, the conservative bishop also criticized parents and others who he said engaged in uncharitable talk before, during and after a meeting with high school officials last week that drew nearly 1,000 parents. Jugis did not attend the sometimes emotional gathering. He was in Hayesville in the mountains to dedicate a mission church.

“I was shocked to hear the disturbing reports of a lack of charity and respect at the parents’ meeting, and outside the meeting in conversations and in social media,” Jugis said in his statement. “There simply is no room in the Catholic Church for such displays of uncharitableness and disrespect.”

Many of the parents who rose to speak at the meeting were critical of Sister Jane Dominic Laurel, who spoke to students at a March 21 assembly. Her comments about homosexuality, divorce and single-parent homes had sparked an uproar from some students and parents.

Some students who attended the assembly reported that Laurel said, for example, that children raised by single parents had a greater chance of becoming gay or lesbian.

At the parents’ meeting, some who spoke also sought an apology from the Rev. Matthew Kauth, the high school chaplain who invited Laurel to speak and failed to notify parents ahead of time about the sensitive nature of her remarks.

In his statement, Jugis expressed “support (for) the continued work” of Kauth and other officials at the high school. And the bishop offered no criticism of Laurel, a Dominican nun from Nashville, Tenn.

The president of Aquinas College, where Laurel has taught, said in a statement this week that the nun had veered beyond “the scope of her expertise” in some of her comments at the high school. Laurel has canceled all her speaking engagements and is taking a sabbatical from her teaching post.

Jugis, who has been criticized by some local Catholics for skipping the meeting with parents, did not mention the church’s teachings that homosexual acts are sinful. But he did say in his statement that all Catholic schools “are committed to hold and teach the Catholic faith in its fullness.”

Read Jugis’ entire statement at www.catholicnewsherald.com.

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