FOX47 NEWS - Parishioners protest church worker firing

Jeff Angileri
May 3, 2009, 5:37 PM

The controversial firing of a Beloit church worker had people protesting and marching in front of St. Patrick's Cathedral in Madison.

They stretched an entire city block, chanting in English and Spanish, all because of Ruth Kolpack, a former pastoral associate at Beloit's St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church.

Six years ago, Kolpack wrote a paper arguing for more gender-inclusive language in the church. When she refused to denounce those ideas in March 2009, she was fired. Sunday, her supporters protested that decision.

The reasoning behind that is still convoluted, said Stephanie King, St. Thomas Church parishioner. As we continue to try and understand the facts over the months, it doesn't add up. It doesn't make sense.

She's a Christian woman and a tremendous example for people to be open to diversity and to help minorities and other groups in the church, said Elizabeth Tardola, St. Jude's Church parishioner.

Kolpack's supporters want Bishop Morlino of the Madison Diocese to reinstate Ruth.

I didn't do anything to deserve being fired, Kolpack said. People who actually know and worked with me in the parish attested to that.

Kolpach says this is a fight for church workers' rights. She worked at St. Thomas church for 35 years, now she's not even allowed to sing in the choir.

Bishop Morlino is not talking to the news media about the situation. Phone calls and e-mails to the madison diocese were not returned.

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