Monks dramatically quit Catholic school after it hires lesbian lacrosse coach

Abbot Austin Murphy, head of the St Procopius monks

A group of Benedictine monks has cut ties with an Illinois Catholic high school after it agreed to hire a lesbian lacrosse coach.

The 50 monks of the St Procopius monastery announced on Tuesday (4 January) that they would no longer govern Benet Academy in Lisle, Illinois.

Their decision came after the private Catholic high school, which was founded by the monks more than 120 years ago, decided to offer the job of lacrosse coach to a lesbian candidate.

Amanda Kammes, who graduated from Benet Academy in 2001, had her job offer revoked in September last year after the school discovered that she was married to a woman.

According to NBC Chicago, thousands signed a letter calling for the school to reverse its decision, and students held a rally to support Kammes.

Finally, the school offered her the job, admitting that her “background and experience made her the right candidate for the position”.

But the decision did not please the monks of St Procopius.

Abbot Austin Murphy said in a statement at the time: “The matter raises the question of what a Catholic high school should require from those who work with and form its students. In particular, is it necessary that the witness of their public lives not be in opposition to Catholic moral teaching?

“I believe this requirement is necessary and, therefore am deeply troubled by the school’s decision which calls into question its adherence to the doctrines of the Catholic faith.

“In turn, I want to let everyone know that I am taking this matter to prayer and discerning how to proceed.”

Now, it seems his “discerning” is over with, and Murphy this week said that “after much deliberation, the monks as a community have discerned that they no longer have the resources needed for governance and oversight of the Academy”.

Despite hiring a lesbian coach, the school is retaining its anti-LGBT+ policies

While Benet Academy, under pressure, agreed to hire lesbian lacrosse coach Amanda Kammes, and even fell out with its founding monks and major donors in the process, head teacher Stephen Marth insisted the school would “maintain its Catholic identity, in the Benedictine tradition, for years to come”.

This apparently also means hanging on to its anti-LGBT+ policies for students.

The school’s 2021-2022 guidebook tells students: “Sexual acts belong in marriage, which is seen as a life-long indissoluble union of a man and a woman, and, thus, students are taught to abstain from sexual acts before marriage and to cultivate the virtue of chastity.

“Also, the human body, as created male or female by God (Gen 1:27), is seen to be part of one’s personal identity, and is to be respected as such.

“As Pope Francis teaches, ‘the young need to be helped to accept their own body as it was created, for thinking that we enjoy absolute power over our own bodies turns, often subtly, into thinking that we enjoy absolute power over creation’.”

The school’s dress code forces students to “dress as befits young men and women of their biological sex at birth”, with even their blazers having to be “tailored appropriately for the student’s size and biological sex”.

Same-sex couples are strictly banned from attending school dances, proms or any school-sponsored social activity, and can be kicked out if they defy this rule. The academy also runs school trips to anti-abortion marches.