Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Judge Dismisses McEnroy Suit

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Judge Dismisses McEnroy Suit

Article excerpt

Citing lack of jurisdiction in religious matters, a federal court has dismissed suit filed by Sr. Carmel McEnroy against St. Meinrad Seminary and former St. Meinrad Archabbot Timothy Sweeney.

Judge David F. Hamilton of U.S. District Court, Evansville, Ind., wrote in final judgment released Feb. 6 that McEnroy. fired from a tenured teaching position, had been a "ministerial employee" and is therefore unprotected by federal laws prohibiting sex discrimination.

However, Hamilton McEnroy is free to seek redress in state court for her other claims, including breach of contract.

In her suit, McEnroy alleged a pattern of sex discrimination against women professors since she began teaching at St. Meinrad in 1981.

Judge Hamilton wrote, "As a professor of systematic theology at a seminary that trains future priests," McEnroy "clearly falls" within an exception for ministerial employees. He noted that the category includes not only ordained ministers but also employees of religious institutions whose duties are religious in nature.

McEnroy was fired in April 1995 after she joined signers of an open letter to Pope John Paul II disagreeing with his opposition to women priests.

Hamilton acknowledged that "the very public controversy involving Dr. McEnroy's removal raises questions of great importance to the parties," but argued that even a court review of her complaints would represent an intrusion in St. Meinrad's religious affairs.

In numerous cases, he wrote, federal courts "have applied the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses of the First Amendment? …

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