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Minnesota same-sex marriage: An East Grand Forks Catholic school works within the doctrine

Monsignor Mike Foltz, pastor of Sacred Heart Catholic Church and superintendent of Sacred Heart School in East Grand Forks, says the school will still teach that marriage is between a man and a woman, as well as another church belief: people are created equal. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

After Minnesota legalizes same-sex marriage, Sacred Heart School in East Grand Forks will still teach what the Catholic Church believes: that marriage is meant to be between a man and a woman.

But, according to Monsignor Mike Foltz, the school's superintendent and the parish's pastor, they'll also continue teaching another church belief: all people are created equal.

"Come this fall, every kid that comes through the door is going to be loved and cared for and treated with respect and dignity -- no matter the color of their skin or what their gender is or their sexual orientation," he said this past week.

In fact, he said, he sees a Catholic school community as a "safe haven" for students who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or who are still "trying to discover who they are." He said he has known parents who have brought their children to Catholic schools to escape being ridiculed about sexual orientation at public schools.

"If a student would come out, we would definitely rally to support that student and make sure that they weren't being persecuted," said Sacred Heart High School Principal Carl Adolphson. "Because that's a human being, and they don't deserve that no matter where they are."

Foltz said that the school leaders' discussions on the topic of same-sex marriage are designed to find ways that will "make someone with same-sex attraction welcomed in the church."

Especially when the education of children is concerned, he said, he wants only to provide a safe environment for anyone interested in learning about Catholicism.