“Ask a Priest: Is It Justified That a Pregnant, Single Teacher Was Fired?”

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Q: My daughter told me that her friend’s husband, who is principal in a Catholic school, had to fire a teacher. The reason he had to fire her was because she became pregnant and was not married. My daughter was completely upset by this. How can I help her and answer this? – S.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: I’m sorry to hear about the situation. I can’t speak about the specifics of how this case might have been handled, since I don’t know all the details.

But let’s accept the basic facts: A teacher at a Catholic school became pregnant out of wedlock and was fired.

While the woman and her baby obviously need to be supported (by the father of the child, primarily), another issue that comes to the fore is scandal.

A teacher in a Catholic school is, by nature, a role model for young people. The students might have looked up to this teacher and admired her. For this reason she had a special responsibility to live a life in accord with the Catholic beliefs that she presumably espoused.

This isn’t to say that she should be condemned. One hopes that she gets to confession and rededicates her life to following her Christian calling.

Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that she has a right to remain in the school, since her presence (and obvious physical condition) would be a constant reminder to the children of the fall in her private life.

Her example – and the school’s acceptance of her condition – could leave students thinking that Church teaching about chastity is a sham and that the adults in their life (at least their teachers) don’t really buy it. “Miss Smith got pregnant, and nothing happened to her, so maybe this stuff we hear about saving sex for marriage is just talk.”

In other words, the teacher’s continued presence in the school could amplify the effects of the error that led her to get pregnant. She had a grave fall in chastity, and now the risk was that her personal mistake would become a source of scandal for impressionable youth.

Again, I can’t speak to the details of how the teacher was fired. One hopes that it was handled sensitively. And one hopes only for the best for her and her partner and the baby.

For various reasons, though, it is understandable that the next chapter in their lives would best unfold apart from the school.

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  1. I am sure that if the teacher’s contact did not stipulate that if she got pregnant then she would have to leave then perhaps she was not fired at all it might have been that the situation was discussed between the head and the teacher and both agreed that she would be better to leave. This is the most likely case within a school. So it is maybe too strong a word to say that she is “fired” I am hoping that as a Catholic School that they were able to give her some extra money due to the job loss.

    I think that she should leave and I also think if a male who works in a Catholic school was responsible for a child outside wedlock that he should be asked to leave. So I do not think that it is because she is a woman , I hope not and hope that this applies to men and women.

    It is right that she has left as it is not the right example to girls.

    However, we do not know the full details, it could be that the man left her. He has certainly not done the right thing by her as he has not asked her to marry him. This will have been terrible of him. Leaving her in such a bad situation without offering her marriage. So it shows the girls at the school that they could be left in such an awful state if they have such a relationship outside wedlock. God’s rules are there to help protect us.

    We should not speculate without knowing her situation (she could have been attacked and decided to do the right thing and have the baby if that was the case it will be a terrifying time for her ). Hence people should not be creating rumours or gossiping about her as it could hurt her even more.

    If she is in a relationship with a man (and not in the situation above) then we should pray that he does the right thing and offer her marriage.

    Hopefully she will find joy and love in her baby and will find guidance from God.

    But there will be many children who need guidance and to be shown good examples at the school. So yes they did do the right thing.

    But at the same time, people should be careful not to spread gossip, in order to minimise the embarrassment this woman might be under at the moment.

    The best thing to do is pray for her and to pray for the school .

  2. Father, I find your response rather pharisaic. Can you see Jesus doing such a thing? I think that keeping the mother in her position would be much more attractive a response to young people than firing her. All firing says is, “We as a church care more about sex than we do about people…oh and by the way, we are hypocrites, because we raped young people in the Confessional”. At least, that’s what it would say to me.

    I don’t think she ought to be fired. Would the father be fired, I wonder? What she confesses is between her and God, but condemning her goes against the spirit of the Gospel.

    And yes: I am Catholic. I also had been unwed and pregnant, years before I became Catholic. I know what that is like. You can’t mouth “pro-life” and fire vulnerable women at the same time. Perhaps she will have an abortion now?

    If it’s all about rules and regulations, then that says to me that the RC church is not a forgiving church. If it cares about scandal, it should look to its own house, first.

    “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”.

  3. Dear L ,

    It is most likely that she came to a mutual agreement to leave the school. We do not know the whole truth of this case.

    Your anger worries me, I think that pray would help you find some peace, and by reading the bible you will find the answers to your questions. Pray to Our Lady as she is someone I often pray to as she is who I look up to (my role model in a way), a miraculous medal was a gift from Our Lady and is something that you could wear I find it brings me graces and peace. Especially as you are a mother Our Lady will help you if you pray to her for she is a mother also and will understand.

    My mother was married but they divorced as he was not a nice man, however my mother is a kind , gentle person and although it was just me and my mum and she struggled I am so glad we have each other and we have a strong bond for always. Being a single mother is a struggle yes but by having the child and raising it you are being a loving mother and so will this teacher.

    God has put down rules to protect us.

    The school has a responsibility to protect the children, for example I was at Catholic school and because of that they really put forward the message that sex outside marriage was wrong, I never became one of those teenagers to get conned by a man either another teen or an older man I never even dated when I was a teenager. Yet in other schools that were not Catholic teen pregnancy was so much more higher and these girls really struggled in life as the fathers often abandoned them due to their immaturity. These teenagers really did struggle. Some teenagers did have abortions too as they felt they were too young etc, and therefore precious life was lost. Think about those babies that were never born it is so upsetting. A catholic school has to do everything to prevent these things happening as often teenagers then fall into bad sin, so they will have had to put the children of the school first and protect them just as they protected me when I was at school

    I do agree with you though if a male teacher in a Catholic church makes someone pregnant then he should leave too if he is not married or has no intentions of marrying the woman.

    You bring up “scandal” , these happenings are happening all over the world. Many wolfs are in sheeps clothing. In all religions, and in all professions. I am in the music business and I would say so far 90 % of wolfs in sheeps clothing are in the music business (many of them in classical music by the way)!! I have still to actually meet a straight music boss (someone in a music leadership role) who is not someone who pursues women in a sexual way. I avoid them and just volunteer as a singer instead of looking for a wage as this career is so full of weird horrible people.

    In the church I have actually never encountered anything like that, I grew up so happy in my church and with the convent nearby that I often visited. So the percentage of wolfs in sheep’s clothing is much less in the church. When you think about it, music is a gift from God but evil sees that and it wants to destroy so these people get into the music business to exploit young girls, women and men!

    Sadly these wolfs (evil) will try to hide behind God himself by going into the church life. That is not the fault of the church. The scandals come from years ago when women and girls where too scared to report as society as a whole (catholic and non catholics) brushed these things under the carpet, many people would not believe these girls at the time (including police!). Nowadays people will be brave and report these things and this is what the Catholic church encourages. I can ensure you that the Catholic Church do not want any wolfs in sheeps clothing in the church. These people are doing the work of the devil to ruin the church. And that is why the many many majority of the church are doing what they can to stop anything like this from happening again. My Church has a pure heart but as it is so pure, evil will do everything it can to destroy what is God’s.

    So the “scandal” in the church was caused by evil, it is not of God, The church is God’s church, and in the end evil was exposed and measures taken to help stop this happening again. The fight between good and evil is everywhere. But the Catholic church belongs to our Dear God the Father, and of Jesus and of Our Lady. It is for his people too. We have free will on Earth and with that evil will eat away at what is pure. We as Catholics need to lead by example, and be loving towards each other, and we need to protect each other. I am hopeful that the school did everything they could to help the teacher when she left and have supported her in finding new employment if they are a good Catholic School they will not have left her without support of some kind.

    There is comfort to be sought from Our Lady please pray the Rosary. With the patience we need to pray the Rosary peace is so often found in the Rosary.

    May God bless you my dear sister.

  4. Sarah, thank you for your concern over my spiritual life. I don’t think there is anything wrong with anger, when used rightly (think Jesus in the Temple). I can’t stand hypocrisy. I do pray to Our Lady– and more. I am active in the Church. I have a spiritual director. These things that happened to me were many years ago (I am old now); I possibly should not have mentioned them. Am I projecting? Perhaps. But I still think there is a lot of hypocrisy in the Church, and I stand by my previous response.

    Also, you say perhaps there was a previous agreement between her and her employers… we just don’t know, do we? But the church schools tend to fire anyone it doesn’t agree with morally, usually for sexual sins. Why is the Church so hung up on sex, and not other sins? Just something to think about.

    I think had the school allowed her to stay, she would have been a better example to girls (pregnant, out of wedlock, but she didn’t have abortion, and is handling it very courageously). I think there is a mixed message being portrayed re: “Pro-Life”, but firing someone who doesn’t have an abortion.

    Perhaps next time, she’ll just have an abortion– and keep her job.

  5. The church is so concerned over all sins. It is for our protection that God has asked what he has asked of us.
    If she had kept her job it would have given the message out that it is okay to have a baby out of wed lock. The think is young girls might think oh thats okay then I will sleep with that boy, and then they get pregnant and because they are too young and scared or the pain and responsibility and sometimes with pressure from their parents they sadly terminate the pregnancy. The woman teacher is an adult, she knows better . The girls at the school are children and they could then go and get pregnant. My school put such fear into us that none of us in my class went with a boy it kept us pure and chaste. And I value that they did that for us.

    These are God’s rules that the church hold and educate us on. It is God that asks these things of us.

    I think that they did the right thing. The woman teacher if she is a proper Catholic she would not terminate the child or any other children she may have in the future.

    It is fine to be angry about things everyone gets angry. It is human nature . But Gods word is not just him saying I want this and that is that. He wants to keep all his children from wondering away from him, he wants us to be saved he wants us to make the choice to choose him as our loving and kind father. He is doing it for us, he sent us his son to die on the cross for us. He has done everything for us.

    The protection of those girls is paramount they have to have the peace to do their studies and to see that sex outside wedlock is not right. And it is in order to try to stop them from committing great sins. One that being having sex outside marriage and two aborting a human being. Meaning that two possible sins could be committed.

    I do understand your point, but for young children their mind set does not work in that way, they would think that it was okay and then they could potentially go onto ruin their lives and future.

  6. *” If she had kept her job it would have given the message out that it is okay to have a baby out of wed lock.” I cant edit on the site and I feel that it could be misinterpreted so what I mean is: so I meant that by getting pregnant outside wedlock is giving young girls the impression that sex outside marriage is okay.
    In my school they were rather like this school in question : the one we are discussing and I am happy that they were as today you see so many people in other schools (often not Catholic) getting pregnant and being with lots of men and also the rise in terminations.

    The commandment says “Thou shall not kill” and the Catholic Church is trying to stop these pregnancies happening as teen pregnancy is often unwanted and result in babies being aborted.

    I feel that the Church is carrying out Gods word by protecting these children.

    This is my view on this.

  7. THE CHURCH DOES NOT: follow society and its believes
    THE CHURCH DOES NOT: follow the trends
    THE CHURCH DOES NOT: follow the way that we are almost conditioned to think nowadays
    THE CHURCH DOES NOT: follow the fashions and pagan thing

    Anything that has happened in the church that has gone against the word of God such as the scandals you mention is from those that have hidden behind Gods church and are those Wolfs in sheeps clothing. The church is heart broken at these horrible things and many priests and those within the church who are good people will have cried at these horrible things happening. The church wants to make sure that these things never happen again.

    Those that did commit these crimes in the church in the end: God will judge them all.

    There are so many good hearted people in the church the majority of them are dedicated to the work of God.

    If as you say the teacher would go onto abort another child then she would be committing a terrible sin. And as she is an adult and a Catholic adult at that she should have the conscience not to do that. We do not know this woman at all. But any good Christian would not do such a thing.

  8. If I was at a school and the teacher got pregnant and she was not married and she got to stay. I would have firstly thought that the school and its teachings were not true. It would have confused me. Other students would have thought ah well it is okay for things to happen outside marriage, then a a few girls in the class would have got pregnant and because they would be too young and unable to look after a baby and scared and with the pressure of perhaps their parents who want them to have an education this could potentially lead to terminations and these young girls lives ruined forever as well as the innocent babies.

    I understand your point, but I am going to have to agree to disagree.

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