As the world waits on the announcement of a new Pope, a dedicated Catholic in Cincinnati, Ohio is poised to become a symbol for the religious and political issues the denomination faces in the 21st century.
In early February, Mike Moroski, a Catholic high school teacher and dean of student life, was fired after twelve years on the job for blogging support for gay marriage.
His dicey dance with the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, as well as his colleagues in the local education system, went viral. I interviewed Mike Moroski and I found out more than just a dude without a job because he blogged his beliefs. It showed the problems the Catholic faith, and other faiths, face in the upcoming decades.
Support for marriage equality, and other social issues like abortion and birth control is dividing Catholics not only in Cincinnati, Ohio, once a conservative hub, but elsewhere around the globe. As the College of Cardinals readies their colored smoke in their secret enclave in Louisville or Ball State or Arizona or St. Louis or The Vatican, maybe this culture war is deciding the next head of the Catholic church?
On the surface, Mike Moroski is your average good Catholic boy. The grandson of Polish immigrants, Moroski was raised in Catholic institutions his while life. He can even relate the story of a cousin imprisoned in Cold War Poland for his Catholic beliefs. So, when he blogged that not only he supported marriage equality but that the Catholic church should be reaching out to conflicted or confused young Catholics, like the kind Moroski has been counseling for a dozen years, he was reprimanded then fired. Currently unemployed Moroski says he has no worries or regrets. Over 7,500 signatures have been sent to the Archdiocese in his support to get his job back. He expects it won’t help. Pro-Mike sentiment has been flowing in from all areas of the countries as well as work opportunities. This bodes well for a guy who has been married less than five months. Imagine telling your new wife your blog means you’re eating Ramen, not Roman noodles for a while?
One of the reasons Moroski says he kept his post up, and has made more since his firing, is that more Catholics are for gay marriage than ever before. In California, the polls show 55 percent are in favor. In New York, the number is 57 percent. Even more telling is Cincinnati. the place so old school Catholic they’d fire a qualified, passionate teacher over a blog post, the poll number has reached 43 percent. Many believers including ones who are writers, historians, and educators say that the church’s stances are alienating newer, younger Catholics. Moroski represents the kind of “new”Catholic that scares older ones and could cause reforms in the public stances the church takes.
Purcell Marian, the school that was forced to fire Mike Moroski has responded in releases to the media that Moroski, like all their employees signed contracts that clearly state public support of issues, like gay marriage, that are against the church’s beliefs, will be subject to review and termination.
Being the Queen City’s face and Big Red Machine’s poster boy for 21st century Catholicism may not have been Mike Moroski’s intention, but with his announcement to me and later to the Internet that he plans to run for the Cincinnati City Council in 2017 will do just that. It’s easy to cheer for Moroski. He’s passionate, compassionate, well-intentioned, and steadfast in his faith as well as being for tolerance of everyone. Now, it’s time to see if he can be a Crusader with and against his own church as they decide what to do with its head.
You can find Mike Moroski at www.mikemoroski.com and @mike_moroski on The Twitter. You can find the new Pope, somewhere in The Vatican, near Italy, not Louisville, Ball State, Arizona or St. Louis, although they do have Cardinals, too.
****all pictures courtesy of papalnews.org and mikemoroski.com*****