Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, has ruled that a Catholic basketball team that chose to forfeit its season, rather than kick out two girls, will be allowed to complete its schedule with its roster intact, the Washington Post reports.
Fifth-graders from St John the Apostle in Clark, N.J., had been playing with two girls on the team for several years until the league's director told them that the 10-year-old girls should never have been allowed on the team, and that it could not play any more games with them.
The nine boys voted unanimously to "stay as a team" with the girls.
On Wednesday, the archdiocese of Newark reversed its ruling, saying that the children representing St John's "should not have been penalised for mistakes that adults responsible for following the league rules may have made."
The news was received with joy by the team, which chanted, as it had when it decided last week to forfeit its season, "Unity! Unity!"
"This is all we ever wanted," Keisha Martel, a parent of one of the girls and a coach of the team, told NJ Advance Media. "The Cardinal and our pastor from the beginning supported us, and we understand that it was on the advice of counsel and the CYO league director that the Cardinal rescinded his decision. For him to overturn the CYO league director's decision speaks volumes, and we are so grateful."
"We want the children to play for the very reasons CYO sports leagues were established: to provide a source of both recreation and reaffirmation of our Christian faith," Cardinal Tobin said in a news release.