A bit of good news about Catholicism and Omaha

People love to bash the Catholic Church. But, Catholicism in America is, operationally speaking, controlled largely by each diocese and its bishops and cardinals. Those leaders exist across the left-right spectrum.

Then there are the Jesuits, who ultimately answer to the Pontiff and Rome, but who often chart a more progressive path independent of local diocesan bishops who do not control the Jesuits or their schools.

Such is the case in Omaha, of all places, where the panic over transgender students reared its ugly head when the Diocese of Omaha issued an edict about transgender issues in local schools.

Under the new policy — set to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2023 — students may be expelled, and teachers could be fired, if they ask to be identified as transgender. 

But the biggest names in Catholic schools in Omaha, including Duchesne (all girls) and Creighton Prep (all boys) have made it clear they will not be following the rules of the archdiocese:

“We exist to care for our kids. That’s why we’re here,” said Father Matt Spotts, president of Creighton Prep High School.

Spotts told 6 News he’s had to emphasize this point repeatedly after the Archdiocese of Omaha issued a new transgender policy requiring staff to treat people according to their biological sex at birth.

Spotts said Creighton Prep has different guidelines and doesn’t plan to make any changes.

“Every single student that walks through our doors is created in the image and likeness of God. That’s one of our most important and fundamental values,” he said.

Like most Catholic high schools in the Omaha metro area, Spotts said, Creighton Prep is independent and not required to follow the new policy.

“That is something that’s hard for a lot of folks to grasp,” he said.

Other independent Catholic high schools in Omaha include Duchesne, Marian, Mercy, Mount Michael, and the Jesuit Academy. Only three high schools are governed by the Archdiocese of Omaha: Gross, Roncalli, and Skutt.

The new transgender policy has caused so much confusion that many schools are sending out emails to parents to clarify.

It should also be noted that 9,000-student Creighton University, arguably the most prestigious 4-year university in the region if you’re not considering football prominence, had last year its first openly gay undergraduate student body president. That didn’t cause so much as a ripple in the area.

Creighton also was a leader in local COVID responses, requiring all students, staff and faculty to be vaccinated. The university fought (and won) when several students took Creighton to court over the requirement.

You can read the rest of the article about the trans policy, and the schools’ letters sent out to parents, at this link.

Catholics and Catholic thought are not monolithic, although they are often presented as such. That these schools and this university are pushing back against conservative policies proves that.

An aerial view of part of the Creighton campus.

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