How not to handle a hostage crisis
January 24, 2013 § 29 Comments
A fairly common trope among right-leaning American Catholics has been colorfully characterized as “vote Republican or the babies get it”. Capitulation in hostage situations is rarely a good idea, though, which is why I have to dissent from the suggestion of some of my Catholic friends that capitulation to the hostage-taker is the right approach in a different situation.
To make a long story short, a Catholic school hired an unwed first grade teacher. The unwed teacher became pregnant, in violation of her contract which has a morals clause prohibiting fornication. The school let her go – really she let herself go – in compliance with her contract terms.
I’m with the school on this one.
I know all the arguments – we’ve argued about similar situations before. But I can’t get to where the right choice is to condone manifest grave sin and scandal around children because there are hostages involved. And to offer her a different, low profile, “back office” job for which she was not hired, so the school now has to figure out how to carry an extra salary for someone they don’t need and didn’t hire and go hire another teacher, is just capitulation to extortion because there is a hostage – her unborn child – involved.
Giving an unmarried pregnant woman a make-work job is not appropriate and likely not financially feasible. Referring her to a crisis pregnancy center is the right, merciful, and just response. Would the school’s detractors suggest that the diocese hire all the unmarried pregnant women in the diocese?
If there happened to be a different, low profile, back office job opening for which she was qualified, permitting her to interview for that position – if she was interested and had a good attitude about it, and was willing to peacefully accept the result of not being hired, if that was the outcome – would be a mercy. Giving her even just an interview as a matter of entitlement or fear of what she might do if she isn’t given one isn’t just wrong. It infantilizes her.
On a cursory read, unless there are facts of which I am unaware, I think the school chose wisely, mercifully, and correctly. Furthermore the school treated her like an adult, a moral agent capable of making moral choices and being responsible for their consequences.
Some of the commentary expresses outrage that only a woman can manifest fornication in visible outward changes to her body. Apparently in some quarters it is outrageous that some people can get away with fornication and breaking their contracts, while others, specifically women who become pregnant, cannot.
I guess the only solution to the unfair distribution of the natural consequences of sin is to make sure that no sins have any natural consequences.