The Catholic News Service has a story out about two teachers who have filed lawsuits against the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend as well as the Archdiocese of Cincinnati (separately). They claim discrimination because they were fired after pursuing in vitro fertilization treatments.
In the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend the teacher was called to meet with pastor of the school. She said in a CNN interview, “I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong.” Either she is completely ignorant of Church teaching or she was fishing for a lawsuit. That alone should get her fired. It’s a Catholic school! Either way, it could be expected that similar lawsuits might come up throughout the country, in effect, challenging Hosanna v. Tabor with the Americans with Disabilities Act (infertility is considered a disability) and the Civil Rights Act. [CLICK HERE to see her comments to CNN.]
This seems to be one of those instances where lawsuits are filed not with an expectation of winning or to settle a legitimate legal grievance, but instead with the expectation of smearing the Church and stigmatizing Catholics. (The other common goal is a settlement.)
Those who are new to communications or public relations learn an early lesson when working for the Church. They’ll ask, “Why are we getting sued? There’s no way they can win!” Winning the lawsuit isn’t the victory. These kinds of cases have ample amounts of Appellate and Supreme Court precedent to be dismissed fairly quickly, but it still causes quite a public relations stir because each time stories like these pops up, the Church appears once again to be “anti-women” or fixated on restricting “reproductive rights.”
Once that happens, critics and commentators start asking questions like, “Why does the Catholic hierarchy remain so intent on these issues? Aren’t there bigger issues for them to deal with?” Sound familiar? It should.
Quite frankly, it’s a very clever trick. Bring up the issue that the media can’t help but impose on the Church, then turn around and ask why the Church is even talking about it.