Vatican Temporarily Suspends Indy Archbishop's Decree On Brebeuf Jesuit

Sep 24, 2019

A decree issued in June by Archbishop Charles Thompson stated Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School "can no longer use the name Catholic and will no longer be identified or recognized as a Catholic institution." The Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education in Rome has suspended the decree on an interim basis, pending its final response to the school's appeal.
Credit Michael Conroy/AP Photo/File

The Vatican temporarily suspended a decree by the Indianapolis Archdiocese to no longer recognize Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School.

In June, the Archdiocese made the decision because Brebeuf leaders refused to fire a teacher in a same-sex marriage.

Today, Brebeuf President, Rev. Bill Verbryke said in a public letter the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education in Rome suspended the decree on an interim basis, pending its final response to the school's appeal.

"I want to stress that this process is ongoing in an environment of not only deep love for our Church, but also, despite our differences on this matter, deep respect for the Archbishop," Verbryke wrote.

For two years the private northwest Indianapolis school resisted calls by the Archdiocese to fire Layton Payne-Elliott, a longtime educator at the school, who was maried to another man. As a result, the Archdiocese cut ties with Brebeuf in June.

The Archdiocese has said church teachings do not support same-sex marriages for staff at its schools.

Brebeuf leaders say they don’t know how long the appeal process will take.

"The Archbishop very kindly informed me that, as a result of this temporary suspension of his decree, Brebeuf is free to resume our normal sacramental celebrations of the Eucharist," Verbryke said in the letter to the school community. 

The Archdiocese has told other Indianapolis Catholic schools to terminate staff for the same reason. Joshua Payne-Elliott, who is married to Brebeuf's Layton Payne-Elliott, is suing the Archdiocese because he was fired from Cathedral High School because of his marriage.

The Archdiocese asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit, citing the First Amendment as a defense.