In response to a number of high profile firings and resignations of teachers in Catholic schools for varying incidents involving same-sex marriages, in-vitro fertilization, or abortion advocacy, a few dioceses are now including language specifying violations of Catholic doctrine that would be deemed fire-able offenses.
Dioceses in Hawaii and Ohio have already made changes to their teacher contracts. Some expect similar changes around the country. And some are protesting.
The president of the National Association of Catholic School Teachers, Rita Schwartz, called these types of contracts "way over the top and very oppressive," according to The Detroit News.
But Jim Rigg, superintendent of Catholic schools and director of the department of educational services for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, wrote at Cincinnati.com that there’s very little new here. He said, “any Catholic educator would tell you that a so-called morality clause has been present in our employment contracts for years.”
He pointed out that the contract in Cincinatti doesn’t place any new expectations upon teachers. “Catholic school educators have always been asked to uphold and reflect Catholic principles in their teaching and their public witness,” he reportedly wrote. “This requirement has been present for all educators, regardless of their own faith identity or what personal beliefs they might possess.”
Rigg added in his op-ed that the clarity in the contract should be seen as helpful to teachers so as to avoid any later misunderstanding.
This is not the first time teachers’ morality clauses have been in the news. In 2013, Bishop Robert Vasa of the Santa Rosa Diocese received both support and criticism after he asked all teachers in the diocese to sign an agreement upholding the Church’s teachings in opposition to “modern errors” such as abortion, contraception, euthanasia, and same-sex marriage, which he wrote are “matters that gravely offend human dignity.”
Bishop Vasa postponed the policy implementation until 2015 to allow time for education. During a 21-month period, the bishop said he planned to address “a number of significant misunderstandings about what the Church teaches, as well as why.”
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