"Character and common sense."

Those are the words Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput used to praise Waldron Mercy Academy's firing of a lesbian teacher for being married to her partner.

Nothing controversial about it, Chaput said in a statement Monday. Nothing at all.

Indeed, the archbishop is "very grateful" that the Sisters of Mercy canned Margie Winters, the Merion school's director of religious education, last month after a few parents complained about her marriage.

In dismissing Winters, he said, the school's principal and board members showed "character and common sense at a moment when both seem to be uncommon."


This from a man who holds one of the highest positions in a church that didn't see the common sense in prosecuting pedophiles - or even keeping them away from children. When the church faced a real threat - when children were preyed on by monsters - it did next to nothing.

But when it comes out that Waldron Mercy is employing a respected teacher who happens to be married to another woman - well, then it's time to act. No matter that she has the support of a vast majority of parents and even some school staffers, including nuns. No matter that she had told her supervisors about her marriage when they hired her in 2007.

With all the grave problems facing the Catholic Church - relevancy issues, declining membership in the priesthood, churches closing everywhere - now's the time to focus on the real priority: putting hardworking people in committed relationships out of a job.

The hypocrisy is galling.

For me, as a Catholic - a Catholic who spent 12 years in Catholic schools and four more at a Catholic college - the archbishop's words are angering and depressing for more than just their obvious tone-deafness.

At a time when church leaders, starting with Pope Francis, are finally showing some signs of accepting and embracing their LGBT members, Chaput has positioned himself at the forefront of an increasingly obsolete opposition. The guy's a relic.

Here's how he shapes up with Pope Francis:

Francis: "Who am I to judge?"

Chaput: "Every child deserves a family where the father loves the mother and the mother loves the father."

Francis: "The Catholic Church must help parents stand by their gay children."

Then this head-scratcher from Chaput on the Supreme Court's gay marriage ruling, snipped from his weekly column:

"We cannot provide for the family by undercutting the privileged place in our culture of a woman and a man made one flesh in marriage. Nations that ignore these truths - no matter what their intentions - are laying the cornerstone of war and suffering."

War and suffering. Yes, that's what he said.

And with the Catholic Church still miles behind where it should be on LGBT acceptance, it's sad that Francis' simple statements are considered so groundbreaking. And Pope Francis is far from perfect on the subject. He still opposes gay marriage itself.

But at least others are following the essence of his more accepting comments. Other bishops and Catholic writers and leaders across the country have embraced the Supreme Court's ruling as an opportunity to "encounter" and engage the LGBT community, rather than confront it.

Then there's Chaput. And what he's saying is that firing a person for being true to themselves is a move rich in character - Catholic character. That gay Catholics of strong faith should not be afforded the same dignity as straight Catholics. That Margie Winters should have been fired from her job - removed from a school where she was a linchpin for years, where she has touched the lives of so many students as religious director and as outreach director.

Where, according to school parent Shivanee Raj, who has a son and a daughter at Waldron Mercy and another daughter who graduated, Winters has every day "lived and breathed" the school's message of reaching out to everyone in society through charity and good works.

"What kind of message are we sending to our kids?" Raj asked.

Winters told me Tuesday that the support she and her wife, Andrea Vettori, have received from so many in the Waldron Mercy community has carried them through the ordeal.

And that support is growing.

A Facebook page, Stand With Margie, has nearly 10,000 likes, while a GoFundMe account set up by parents and students has raised over $14,000 for the couple.

"They have shown me what church is," Winters said of her supporters, "of how we stand with one another, how we hold one another up and help one another with the questions we have."

The question facing the church is clear, she said: "Are we a church of welcome and inclusion, as the pope has said, or are we are a church of exclusion?"

She would like to talk that question over with the archbishop. But so far, she said, Chaput's words exclude, instead of invite, and that saddens her.

She wants him and the church hierarchy to sit down with the LGBT community and "learn about who we are - listen to our stories, listen to our faith, and understand our desire to be part of the church."

So far, Chaput hasn't been talking, relying on a statement.

He has said that gay Catholics are welcome to attend the World Meeting of Families - as long as they don't plan on using it as a "lobbying platform."

For him, it seems, that makes perfect sense. Just like the notion that letting gay couples marry somehow precipitates global warfare makes sense.

Just like Winters' firing makes sense. "Common sense."

For increasing numbers of Catholics, including this one, it makes no sense at all.