‘Divorcees don’t have a place in Catholic schools’

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iol pic wld Andre-Joseph Leonard REUTERS Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels and Primate of Belgium Andre-Joseph Leonard.

Brussels - Belgium's outspoken Roman Catholic primate, Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard, stirred the beginnings of a fresh controversy on Wednesday after recommending divorcees not be allowed to teach children.

Never one to mince words, Leonard stated in the October issue of church magazine “Pastoralia” that divorcees did not have a place in Catholic schools.

“For those who remarry after a divorce, it is preferable not to be a religious teacher or the head of a school,” he said.

“It's outrageous,” said the head of the Catholic headmaster and headmistresses board, Jean-Pierre Merveille.

“Legislation guarantees a clear distinction between private and public life,” he told the national Belga news agency.

An official at the Catholic education secretariat (Segec), Conrad Van de Werve, said the recommendation would be tantamount to discrimination and a parents' group also weighed in to criticise the archbishop.

“A person must meet the legal requirements to be hired,” in the Catholic education system, with no private criteria taken into account, said the head of the Catholic schools parents' federation, Ufapec, Pierre-Paul Boulanger.

The archbishop, a conservative close to Pope Benedict XVI, is no stranger to controversy.

Late last year he faced accusations of homophobia and calls to resign for saying Aids was justly deserved. He also said that elderly priests who abused children should be spared. - Sapa-AFP


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Cathy Rl, wrote

IOL Comments
08:38am on 13 October 2011
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The heading is in quotation marks, yet these words don't appear in the body of the article. Did he actually SAY those words or was it an interpretation of his comments. He seems to be saying that Catholics who divorce, remarry and don't have an annulment shouldnt teach religion or head a Catholic school. That's not as outrageous as "they have no place in a CAtholic school." Wouldn't be a little bias against the Catholic Church showing, would it?!!

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Anonymous, wrote

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08:15am on 13 October 2011
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The Teachers in a Catholic School, and ESPECIALLY the Principal and the RE Teachers, MUST themselves put into practice what they are teaching, otherwise it is not a Catholic School because they won't be able to teach those concepts that they themselves have not been able to understand, and accept!....it's that simple...not hard at all to grasp...unless one doesn't WANT TO..!!

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Anonymous, wrote

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10:26pm on 12 October 2011
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I don't agree with divorce,but as a Catholic we should be forgiving of those who sin. I don't see the harm in letting them teach kids as long as they are teaching to the Catholic curriculum.

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Anonymous, wrote

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04:20pm on 12 October 2011
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As a Christian, it is not right to judge others. The church is there for sinners and I dont believe there is a person on this earth that has not sinned...

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Anonymous, wrote

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04:14pm on 12 October 2011
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He stands in judgement against divorcees while his colleagues wear dresses and abuse little children! The catholic church is so out-dated it's time the people stand up against their draconian rules that come from the dark ages.A depraved bunch of old men who hide behind the church while doing their evil deeds - they should be in prison, not in church!

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