KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A petition with more than 7,000 signatures urges support for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas on its decision to deny enrollment to the child of a gay couple at a Prairie Village Catholic school.
The petition, created this week on an online platform for "pro-life and pro-family communities," runs counter to an earlier petition signed by almost 2,000 members of Kansas City-area Catholic parishes asking archdiocese officials to change their minds.
The latest petition does not make clear how many of its signatures are from local Catholics, but it states that it was written by "concerned faithful" in the archdiocese. It called the scrutiny and outrage "attacks" against the church.
"It is clear that the rapid secularization of our society is increasingly causing hostility to the practice of the Catholic faith," the petition reads. "Unfortunately, the lack of sound catechesis can leave many Catholics to form their consciences on these issues based on the opinions of the world rather than the immutable truths of the Gospel."
An archdiocese spokeswoman said Thursday she was aware of at least one petition, possibly two, in support of the church's decision, but neither has been submitted and the archdiocese does not know where they originated.
Local parishioners learned of the decision to bar the kindergartner when the Rev. Craig J. Maxim of St. Ann Catholic Church wrote a letter to parents last month. He told families that St. Ann had sought guidance from the archdiocese, which said the child's parents cannot "model behaviors and attitudes consistent with the Church's teachings."
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"This creates a conflict for those children and what is experienced at home," Maxim wrote in the Feb. 27 letter. "It also could become a source of confusion for other school children."
More than 1,800 people signed a petition asking the church to reconsider a decision they felt "lacks the compassion and mercy of Christ's message." More than 650 people said they are part of St. Ann's parish, and most other signatures were from local parishes. That petition was addressed to Archbishop Joseph Naumann and school Superintendent Kathy O'Hara.
The most recent petition, created on March 12, offers support directly to Naumann.
"Especially given the activity of many pressure groups in the Church today, we are all the more encouraged by your steadfast decision to uphold the perennial truths of the moral law -- for everyone's good," the petition reads.