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More than 11,000 Christians Urge Catholic High School to Publish Student’s Pro-Choice Essay, Reinstate Fired Teachers


February 10, 2022


John Gehring, jgehring@faithinpubliclife.org, (410) 302-3792

The Rev. Nathan Empsall, media@faithfulamerica.org, (203) 343-0549

More than 11,000 Christians Urge Catholic High School to Publish Student’s Pro-Choice Essay, Reinstate Fired Teachers

Washington, D.C. — More than 11,000 Christians are calling on Regis Jesuit High School near Denver to publish a female student’s essay expressing support for reproductive rights that was censored from a student magazine and to reinstate two fired teachers who served as journalism advisors to the publication.

“Silencing a student’s voice and firing teachers is neither a pro-life nor a Christian response to ideas expressed in an opinion essay,” reads the petition, organized by Faith in Public Life and Faithful America. “By removing a female student’s pro-choice essay from the school’s student magazine and firing two teachers, you have sent a message that debate and discussion about abortion will not be tolerated.”

The petition, which to date has been signed by more than 11,000 people, notes that “censoring a student for expressing a personal view held by many people of faith and firing two teachers for supporting her are extreme reactions that only associate the anti-abortion movement in the Catholic Church with fear and intimidation.” 

Catholic leaders, scholars and theologians who signed the petition include Patricia McGuire, President of Trinity Washington University; David O’Brien, emeritus professor of history at the College of the Holy Cross; Lisa Sowle Cahill, professor of theology at Boston College; and Kathleen Maas Weigert, professor emerita at Loyola University Chicago.

Sean Coffey, Regis Jesuit High School Class of 1999, Faithful America member

“I was appalled to hear that my alma mater fired two teachers for allowing an op-ed about abortion in the student newspaper. These firings are in sharp contrast to the Jesuit ideals that Regis instilled in me as a student, which included an appreciation for treating all people with equal dignity and the value of learning from diverse perspectives during intellectual debates. When school leaders made this decision, they sent a harmful message to their student body and their employees that these ideals are no longer valued.”

Natalia Imperatori-Lee, Professor & Chairperson, Religious Studies Department at Manhattan College

“Catholic schools should be places where students feel safe to ask questions and explore the promptings of their conscience. The Catholic Church teaches that a well-formed conscience is an essential part of a mature faith. As Pope Francis has said, the church is called to ‘form consciences, not replace them.’ Shutting down dialogue and discouraging disagreement over challenging issues undercuts the spiritual and intellectual formation that is so essential to young people.”

Lisa Sowle Cahill, Professor of Theology at Boston College

“In my view, students learn best when they engage in a discussion personally and make values their own by debating different analyses of a question. This is why Socrates was and still is such a successful teacher. Catholic pro-life values won’t win any adherents by telling high school students they are not allowed to think for themselves.” 

Kathleen Mass Weigert, professor emerita at Loyola University Chicago 

“It’s important that students and teachers think seriously about key issues in our society. Catholic schools, and especially Jesuit schools that have a rich intellectual tradition, must support free speech and allow discussion of issues done respectfully, openly and with charity.”

The petition is available here.


Faithful America is the largest online community of grassroots Christians putting faith into action for social justice. We use rapid-response digital campaigns to challenge white supremacy and Christian nationalism, reclaim our faith from the religious right, and renew Christianity’s prophetic role in building a more free and just society. Members are both clergy and lay; represent every major Christian denomination in the U.S.; and live in all 50 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico. Approximately one-quarter of Faithful America members are Roman Catholic.

Faith in Public Life is a national movement of clergy and faith leaders united in the prophetic pursuit of justice, equality and the common good. Together, we are leading the fight to advance just policies at the state and federal level. Our network of 50,000 leaders engages in bold moral action that affirms our values and the human dignity of all.

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