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Lesbian Catholic school AD forced out of job after marriage

Cameron Smith
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Tuesday evening, Christine Judd was still the Athletic Director and Dean of Students at Cathedral High School in Springfield, Mass. Then suddenly, after a single meeting on Wednesday morning, she was not.

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According to MassLive.com, Judd met with officials of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield Wednesday after the diocese -- which runs Cathedral and other Catholic schools in the Springfield area -- learned that Judd, an open lesbian, married her longtime partner in August.

Judd isn't a newcomer to Cathedral. The Springfield resident served as AD for three years and dean of students for six years. She'd been at Cathedral 12 years in all before she "resigned," on Wednesday. And though she may have technically resigned, her decision didn't seem to be so open ended when you hear Judd describe the options that the diocese presented her with.

"I was given a choice of termination or resignation," Judd said. "I'm hurt, but I wish nothing but the best for Cathedral, its students, the parents, the athletic teams, administration and faculty. I bleed purple (the school's color)." ...

"I married my partner this summer," Judd said. "I was hoping that my loyalty, my professionalism the last 12 years would supersede the current hypocrisy that has already been shown with the Diocese of Springfield."

Asked to elaborate on her claim of hypocrisy, Judd said she questions if there are lay persons who work for the Catholic diocese who divorce and remarry without an annulment, or employees who use birth control, or men who have had vasectomies, or individuals who are pro-choice on abortion.

Technically, the Springfield diocese is within its rights. While same-sex marriage has been legal in Massachusetts since 2004, it's strictly against diocese policy. That means that Judd breached her contract when she was married this summer. Mark Dupont, a spokesman for the Springfield Diocese, indicated that Judd's departure was a direct result of her decision.

"Without being specific to this matter, it should be clear that all employees of our Catholic schools are made aware of our policies and regulations," Dupont said. "This includes language that clearly states that whenever by public example, an employee engages in or espouses conduct which contravenes the doctrine and teaching of the Catholic Church, that employee may be subject to disciplinary action. To do otherwise would be in contradiction to the values we believe in and are teaching in these same schools. So while we certainly want to be compassionate and understanding, we must be true to who we are."

"We are certainly thankful to Ms Judd for her past service at Cathedral High School and wish her the best in the future," Dupont said.

While Cathedral may already be moving on -- the school named Farrand Violette, the head football coach, as interim Athletic Director -- it's also clear it is losing a pillar of the Cathedral community. As MassLive pointed out, the school website glowed that Judd was "one of the key members of the faculty and staff who serve as positive role models for the students." Members of the local media who knew her best are singing her praises even more loudly.

Now Judd is gone, thanks to a controversial decision she lays squarely at the feet of the Springfield Diocese rather than the school itself.

"Cathedral had nothing to do with this," Judd said. "This was a diocesan decision. In the end, the timing of this issue really affects the kids. That is where it has the most effect."

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