Philadelphia mayoral candidate faults church in firing of gay teacher

PHILADELPHIA (AP) – The Democratic nominee for Philadelphia mayor is criticizing Catholic church officials over the firing of a married gay teacher, calling them “cowardly.”

Jim Kenney’s comments come two months before Pope Francis’ planned visit to the city.

Kenney says church officials should explain why teacher Margie Winters and her wife are threats to society.

Winters lost her job last month as religious instruction director at suburban Waldron Mercy Academy. She says she told the school about her out-of-state marriage when she arrived in 2007.

Many parents are upset by the dismissal.

Principal Nell Stetser says in an email the Sisters of Mercy-run school recognizes the archbishop’s authority on religious teaching.

Spokesman Ken Gavin says the archdiocese “did not influence” Waldon’s decision.

The church opposes gay marriage, but Pope Francis has said of homosexuals: “Who am I to judge?”

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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