SAGINAW — The events that have unfolded regarding the graduation address at Sacred Heart Academy Catholic school in Mt. Pleasant are unfortunate. The decisions to invite, and to rescind an invitation to a graduate who was to deliver the commencement address were done independently of and without any discussion with the Office of Catholic Schools or the Office of the Bishop for the Diocese of Saginaw.
The Most Rev. Joseph R. Cistone, Bishop of Saginaw, learned about the events Thursday, only after the situation was reported by local news outlets. Further, neither the bishop nor the diocese were informed of, or invited to participate in, a news conference that was held at the school today.
“I am distressed by the way in which Sacred Heart Academy school leadership has handled this situation, and have expressed this to the school’s pastor,” Bishop Cistone said. “It has hurt an individual, a family, a graduating class and an entire school and faith community.”
“The Catholic Church is very clear in her teaching, that men and women who have homosexual tendencies must be treated with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” The bishop added that, “the Catholic faith teaches that individuals with homosexual tendencies, as well as unmarried heterosexuals, are called to lead a celibate lifestyle.”
Sacred Heart Academy exists to educate and form students in the teachings of the Catholic faith. It is the position of Bishop Cistone, on behalf of the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw, that individuals who are given an honor — such as serving as the keynote speaker for the culmination of a Catholic school education — should reinforce, and not reject publicly, the teachings of the Catholic faith. Citing the 2004 Speaker-Presenter Policy of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, those “who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles… should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”
“My thoughts and prayers are with all of those who are suffering from this painful experience,” Bishop Cistone said. “Graduation should be a joyful and exciting time for students and families as together they celebrate their vast achievements and look forward to the future. I pray for healing and unity for the entire Sacred Heart school and faith community.”