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Cathedral: Fire teacher or lose non-profit status?

Posted at 8:59 PM, Jun 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-27 17:55:22-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Students and parents say Cathedral High School's decision and explanation behind the firing of a teacher in a same-sex marriage has been confusing.

In a public letter addressed to the Cathedral Family and posted on the school's website, Cathedral's board of directors explain a decision they call "agonizing" after firing a teacher in a same-sex marriage.

The school says at stake is Cathedral's connection to the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. The school goes on to say it had to fire the unidentified teacher or it could no longer refer to Cathedral as a Catholic school, and lose its highly valuable 501(c)(3) status and would no longer be able to operate as a non-profit organization.

The 501(c)(3) is an exemption which keeps the school from being required to pay federal taxes.

READ | Cathedral High School received $1.1 million in public money last year |

Records from the secretary of state show that Cathedral High School has been incorporated as a non-profit since 1972. A distinction held by the school itself, not the Archdiocese.

Robert Katz, a professor at Indiana University's Robert McKinney School of Law, says if Cathedral already has its own non-profit status, then the dilemma, as described in the public letter, is short of being accurate.

"That's just not correct. They are a non-profit organization, they get that status from the State of Indiana which issues an article of incorporation and that is separate and apart from its tax-exempt status, which comes from the IRS," Katz said.

Katz also added that because Cathedral is already a certified non-profit, the school doesn't necessarily need the Archdiocese to get the tax exemption known as the 501(c)(3).

"Getting their own, or independent tax exemption, as opposed to be under the archdiocese is very simple," Katz said. "They fill out a form."

Father James Martin is a New York priest and is vocal on LGBT issues. Which much of the attention has been focused on school funding and same-sex marriage, Martin says the church is picking and choosing topics it wants to enforce.

"No one is perfect, and everybody sins. The problem is not the interpretation; the problem is the selectivity," Martin said. "He's only looking at the sexual morality of the LGBT people to the exclusion of the straight employees, and I think that's clearly discriminatory."

RTV6 looked deeper into Cathedral's tax records to see how much, if any, money the school receives from the Archdiocese, and that's information the organization isn't required to file with the IRS because it's considered a church.

When the newsroom reached out to Cathedral for more information, they told us all questions are being directed to the Archdiocese.