In an opinion piece that appeared recently in the Huffington Post, law professor Charles Reid, Jr., opposes an effort by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati to protect the Catholic identity of its schools, even while he teaches at a Catholic university.
Reid, a law professor at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, complains that Cincinnati’s new Catholic school teachers contract—which prohibits teachers from taking part in conduct contrary to Catholic teaching—is “tragic” and nothing short of the “self-destruction of Catholic schools.”
But as archdiocese spokesman Dan Andriacco said earlier this year, the new contract is nothing new. "There aren't any new expectations of our teachers in the 2014-2015 contract,” he reportedly said. “The revised wording is just more explicit, in that it lists examples of behaviors that are unacceptable as contrary to Church teaching.”
He also clarified that while not all students or teachers at Catholic schools are Catholic, “all of our schools are Catholic.” He said that the archdiocese views schools as a ministry and the teachers as ministers.
The archdiocese announced earlier this year that, because of numerous lawsuits across the country from teachers who were fired or forced to resign for certain public behavior, it was acting to protect schools’ Catholic identity by asking teachers to sign a contract including an agreement to not take part in “any conduct or lifestyle which would reflect discredit on or cause scandal to the school or be in contradiction to Catholic doctrine or morals.”
Employees are prohibited from several types of conduct and lifestyles which would conflict with the identity of Catholic schools. According to the contract, prohibited behavior includes: "improper use of social media/communication, public support of or publicly living together outside of marriage; public support of or sexual activity out of wedlock; public support of/or homosexual lifestyle; public support of/or use of abortion; public support of/or use of a surrogate mother; public support or use of in vitro fertilization or artificial insemination."
Reid writes at the Huffington Post, “[A] culture war is ravaging the Catholic primary and secondary school systems of the United States, and as I survey the scene I am increasingly convinced that these skirmishes represent an actual threat to the health and integrity of Catholic schools.”
He continues, “what has happened in Cincinnati is absolutely tragic” and will lead to a “needless, preventable descent into irrelevance for the Catholic Church in Cincinnati.”
He points to a case where an assistant principal of a Catholic high school was terminated for backing same-sex marriage laws. He called the termination an “overreaction.”
Writing of the new contract, Reid continued:
It attacks the essence of what it means to be a teacher. Teachers must live the life of the mind. They must be free to ask questions. ‘Why are some people gay?’ Teachers must be free to ask this question. It goes with the territory of being a teacher.
But Cincinnati Catholic school teachers dare not ask that question under the onerous terms to which they being asked to assent. Because the truth is, they don't know what that word ‘support’ means. If it means asking questions that could point in a direction other than back to ‘intrinsically disordered’ language of the Catholic Catechism, then they may find themselves in breach of their contract and subject to termination or discipline.
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