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DeGeneres Photo on Catholic School Dance Invite Prompts Apology

The principal of a Catholic elementary school in suburban Philadelphia is apologizing to parents for having used a photo of celebrity Ellen DeGeneres on an invitation to an Oscars-themed graduation dance.

St. Andrew Elementary School principal Nancy Matteo wrote in an email to parents Tuesday that using the photo was “completely wrong” because DeGeneres “lives her life outside the teachings of the Catholic Church,” Philly.com reported.

Ellen DeGeneres speaks onstage during the Oscars
Ellen DeGeneres speaks onstage during the Oscars (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

The site said it obtained the text of the email, which doesn’t specifically mention DeGeneres’ sexual orientation but calls her a “poor role model.” DeGeneres came out as gay in 1997 and married actress Portia de Rossi in 2008.

“A role model, as defined by Webster’s Dictionary, is a person who is unusually effective or inspiring in some social role, job, position, etc.,” the email said. “This does not describe her at all. We work so hard to be good role models and then I go and do something stupid!”

DeGeneres hosted the Oscars in 2007 and 2014. The image on the invitation for the June 8 dance shows her holding an Oscar statue accompanied by the phrase “Live from the red carpet.”

Matteo, who declined to comment on the email to Philly.com, said in the email that she was “obviously NOT thinking” when she included the photo. She asked that the invitations be returned so she can destroy them and distribute new ones.

Spokesman Ken Gavin of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia said the Bucks County principal apologized of her own accord after parents questioned the photo. He said Catholic schools are “firmly rooted in Gospel-based values and the teachings of the Church” and any promotional materials developed by the schools are expected to “feature images and themes that correspond with their core mission and identity.”

“That approach is logical and our school families have a right to expect it,” he said.

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