Catholic priest says he was fired from university job for Facebook post supporting gay rights

By Sarah Pulliam Bailey
May 17, 2015

A priest who ministered to Seton Hall University sports teams says he was removed from his post for publicly supporting the “NOH8″ campaign supporting LGBT rights. The decision comes as the Catholic university’s men’s basketball team is recruiting Derrick Gordon, who is the first openly gay Division I men’s basketball player.

“I’ve been fired from SHU for posting a pic on FB supporting LGBT “NO H8,”‘ the Rev. Warren Hall tweeted Friday. He has since removed the tweet. “I’m sorry it was met with this response. I’ll miss my work here.”

The online “NOH8” campaign, which supports LGBT rights, posts photos that often show celebrities with their mouths taped shut.

Hall was director of Seton Hall’s campus ministry. Calls to the campus ministry office were not returned on Saturday.

The majority of Catholic colleges were founded and continue to be administered by members of a religious order like Jesuits, Dominicans or Franciscans. But Seton Hall was founded and continues to be directly run by the Archdiocese of Newark, N.J.

“Seton Hall University does not comment on personnel matters,” Laurie A. Pine, a spokeswoman for Seton Hall, said in a statement. “The Archbishop of Newark appoints the Director of Campus Ministry, who serves at his discretion.”

Ethan Kraft, a student at Seton Hall, started a petition, asking the Archdiocese of Newark to reverse its decision.

“This action is neither in line with the teachings of Jesus Christ, nor the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis,” Kraft said in an e-mail. “Father Hall is a well-loved member of the Seton Hall community, and much of the student body is shocked and saddened by this decision.”

Hall tweeted his supporters, asking them not to be angry.

Requests for comment from Hall and an archdiocese spokesperson were not immediately returned.

Seton Hall, the oldest Diocesan university in the country, is governed by a 16-member board of trustees. Eleven of those positions are filled by members of the Archdiocese of Newark, and the Archbishop of Newark serves as chairman of the board.

Seton Hall’s administrators rejected students’ attempts to form a campus gay and lesbian organization in 1993 and 2003, according to the Asbury Park Press. In 2010, Archbishop of Newark John J. Myers publicly criticized the offering of an undergraduate seminar titled “The Politics of Gay Marriage.”

Myers has been under fire for a $500,000 renovation of his retirement home and for his handling of the sex abuse crisis in his archdiocese.

Seton Hall, a school of about 5,000 undergraduates in South Orange, N.J., has made a push to recruit Gordon, who drew national attention after he came out on ESPN last year.

Catholic Church doctrine teaches that marriage can only be between a man and a woman. Shifting laws and opinions over gay marriage have inevitably led to tensions within universities as several ousters have taken place at Catholic schools, universities and parishes.

Catholic University told a student group last year to postpone a screening of the movie “Milk,” about gay rights pioneer Harvey Milk, after officials raised questions about a flier linking the event to LGBT Awareness Month. A year ago, the University of Notre Dame made a push to welcome LGBT student athletes.


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