Alter grads push Catholic church to change policy on gays, others

A group of Alter High School graduates has launched an effort urging the Archdiocese of Cincinnati to remove the Catholic conduct clause from its teacher-minister contracts and to open its arms to gay Catholics and others.

The group's website,, includes a petition calling for the Archdiocese to build a plan "to welcome back those who have historically been treated as unequal in the eyes of the Church (LGBTQ+ individuals, divorcees, single parents)," and others.

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The campaign stems from the Archdiocese’s recent move not to renew the contract of gay longtime Alter English teacher Jim Zimmerman, after someone sent his marriage certificate to the Archdiocese.

Rachel Woeste, a 2015 Alter graduate who helped found the effort, said she’s a practicing Catholic who has many gay friends.

“To attend a church that tries to demand that I believe those people deserve less of a life than I do — a life less full of love and children and all that goes with marriage — just because of the way they were born? That drives me away from the church, and I’m not the only one who feels that way,” Woeste said.

Woeste, Alter 2012 grad Alexis Winters and 2010 grad Michael Shuey organized the effort and sent a detailed letter to Archbishop Dennis Schnurr, copying Pope Francis and Alter Principal Lourdes Lambert. The website also contains links to relevant legal cases and scripture passages.

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The group focused largely on Section 4 of the Archdiocese’s teacher-minister contract, which says a teacher agrees to “refrain from any conduct or lifestyle which would reflect discredit on or cause scandal to the School or be in contradiction to Catholic social doctrine or morals,” with examples such as sexual activity out of wedlock, same-sex sexual activity and use of in vitro fertilization.

The Cut the Clause group argues that firing someone based on that clause is inconsistent with Church guidance on social justice, as well as not equally enforceable, as some behaviors are more provable than others.

Archdiocesan officials have not responded directly to the group’s campaign, but have said that the “enduring teaching of the Catholic Church” says marriage is between a man and a woman only, and that behaviors that are “confirmed life choices” rather than regrettable mistakes are incompatible with the church.

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