Sunday, April 6, 2014


With the loss of religious orders staffing our Catholic schools and little or no expectations of what it means for a Catholic or even a non-Catholic to teach in our schools, our Catholic schools continue to lose their Catholic identity and become like their non-sectarian private school counterparts.

Often times, Catholic schools in the south who depend on non-Catholics enrolling in these schools (who sometimes pay a higher tuition than the Catholics, but not always, Mt. de Sales Academy in Macon a case in point) will be more than happy to water down the Catholic faith so as not to push these non-Catholics into the other very fine religious and non-sectarian schools that are available.

When our Catholics schools were staffed primarily by religious orders, the Catholicity of the school was upheld and certainly the sisters or brothers or priests who staffed these schools pushed Catholic doctrine and morality to the hilt. I am sure many Catholic girls of this era will recall Sister measuring how far above the knee their school uniform dress was and if it was too high, they were sent home.

What are some of the problems with completely lay staffs, some Catholic and very much so, others cultural Catholics; others purely non-practicing Catholics and still others of other faiths or no faith at all, in our Catholic schools in various parts of the country?

The following are examples I have heard in other dioceses and some of which have been in the news:

1. Atheists on staff who make it known to their charges that they don't believe in God!

2. Catholics who are in illicit marriages and at school Masses are extraordinary minister of Holy communion, despite the fact that they rarely if ever attend Mass on Sunday.

3. Catholics who openly disagree with the faith and morals of the Catholic Church, even infallible teachings such as those on sexuality, the ordination of only men, etc

4. Catholics who live openly immoral lifestyles and openly live with their significant other, whether in a gay or straight union

I am a great supporter of Catholic education. However, I see in my parish Catholic parents who home-school their children and whose children are far more mature, religiously oriented, embrace the faith in its fullness and live modest, holy lives. This part of homeschooling was very much a part of our Catholic school system up until a generation or two ago but now no longer.

Many of our Catholic parents no longer are the backbone of our parishes and seldom come to Mass with their children.

Why have we allowed our Catholic schools to become like their non-sectarian counterparts? Who's sin is this and when will we turn the ship of Catholic education around in our dioceses?

This is what one Catholic school system is doing:

Catholic Teacher Contract Gets Exact On Behavior
Posted: Updated:

CINCINNATI (AP) — The doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church is so complex the Archdiocese of Cincinnati is giving teachers a cheat sheet on some of the things that can get them fired.

A new contract proposal from the diocese specifies some violations of Catholic doctrine that could put teachers out of a job — including abortion, artificial insemination and "homosexual lifestyles" — and extends forbidden behavior to include public support for those kinds of causes, drawing some complaints that the language is overly broad and a cynical attempt to make it harder for wrongfully terminated teachers to sue.

Teachers have long been required to act in accordance with the Roman Catholic Church's philosophy but it's rare for an archdiocese to include examples of forbidden behavior in its contract. The archdiocese says it's fairer to teachers this way.

"It clarifies what is expected of all of our teachers," archdiocese spokesman Dan Andriacco said.
The new language comes after a series of lawsuits and other problems involving educators fired over alleged doctrinal violations in the archdiocese.

Last year, a federal jury found the archdiocese discriminated against a Cincinnati-area teacher fired for violating Catholic doctrine when she became pregnant through artificial insemination and awarded her $171,000. The teacher said she didn't know artificial insemination violated doctrine. Terms weren't disclosed in last year's settlement of another lawsuit against the archdiocese by an unmarried Dayton-area teacher who said she was fired after becoming pregnant.

Catholic schools in California, Pennsylvania, Montana and other states have faced lawsuits or parent complaints in recent years over firings stemming from doctrinal violations, but the National Association of Catholic School Teachers said it knows of no other archdiocese that has instituted the kind of language planned in Cincinnati.

Andriacco said the contract doesn't require anything the archdiocese didn't already expect of teachers.

"The contract requires that if you are going to represent the Catholic church as a teacher, you are not going to publicly oppose the teachings of the Catholic church," he said.

Besides citing a broad range of prohibited activities including use of a surrogate mother and sexual activity outside of marriage, the contract specifically bans "improper" use of social media. Teachers would also be barred from "public membership" in organizations with missions conflicting with church doctrine.

The president of the Philadelphia-based National Association of Catholic School Teachers says some educators in the archdiocese have contacted the union with contract concerns, even though the union doesn't represent them.

"This contract is way over the top and very oppressive," said union president Rita Schwartz.

Mike Moroski, a Cincinnati-area school administrator fired last year over personal blog comments he made in support of gay marriage, says some of the approximately 2,000 teachers covered by the contract aren't happy but are afraid to speak out for fear of losing their jobs. He said the new language could force teachers to conceal specifically prohibited behaviors.

"This contract will force some people to lie to keep their jobs, and they don't want to do that," he said.

Parents and other parishioners critical of the contract wording are working on petitions and plan to meet with the superintendent of the archdiocese's schools, said Mark McLaughlin, president of the Parent Teacher Association at Nativity School, an elementary school in Cincinnati.

"I am concerned that the archdiocese could lose a lot of good teachers and enrollment will decline," McLaughlin said.

The contract language even raises new questions about what teachers can support, even if their own behavior is in line with church teachings, McLaughlin said.

"The current wording of the contract is confusing, especially as to what 'public support' means," he said.

Andriacco said the archdiocese won't budge on the language.

"This is essentially a moral position and it's not going to be driven by public opinion," he said. "This is our contract, and it's not going to change."

The new contract also for the first time describes every teacher as a "teacher-minister," wording legal experts view as an attempt to prevent fired teachers from bringing wrongful termination charges.
A U.S. Supreme Court ruling has said religious groups can dismiss "ministerial" employees without government interference, although Andriacco says the archdiocese has always considered all of its teachers as ministerial employees.

David Ball, co-chairman of the Religious Organizations Subcommittee of the American Bar Association, said labeling someone a minister doesn't necessarily make them one.
"I'm not sure that would hold up in all cases," he said.

Most religious institutions contain "morals" clauses in their contracts, according to the Rev. Ronald Nuzzi, a senior director in the University of Notre Dame's Alliance for Catholic Education, but no numbers are available on how many of the 195 U.S. Catholic dioceses and archdioceses may be adding specific prohibitions.

The teacher contract in the Diocese of Toledo does contain specific prohibitions, although officials there said the terms are confidential. Dioceses in Cleveland and Steubenville were reviewing their contracts, and representatives said more specific prohibitions were possible.

Bishop Robert Vasa of the Diocese of Santa Rosa in California temporarily postponed establishing similar language last year after realizing he needed to better educate teachers and parents on the issue.

"But at some point, we need as a Catholic church to draw a line," he said.

David Thole, a Catholic school parent in suburban Cincinnati, approves of the new contract's language. He says he wants his children to understand and follow church teachings "not just on Sunday, but in their daily lives."

Christine Inkrot Schroder, a Catholic in Cincinnati, says her now-grown children attended Catholic school, but she opposes the new contract.

"They are trying to mandate how people think," Schroder said. "We taught our children equality and respect, and we could not have sent them to a school that supports such open discrimination."


Rood Screen said...

Father McDonald,

Thank you for posting this. I agree that it is culturally better to have schools staffed by religious, and that it is fiscally better to have some full-fee non-Catholics enrolled in the schools. However, I do not believe that, generally speaking in the South, a strong Catholic identity deters non-Catholic enrollment, especially if the non-Catholics are exempted from overt catechetical instruction.

Further, even without religious, there are very many solid Catholic laymen who could do the job, if only the principals/headmasters would seek them.

Gene said...

It has been time for this for 50 years. What makes you think anything is going to change…have you been imbibing this morning, Fr? Shame! LOL!

rcg said...

The situation is very bad in the Cincinati Diocese where all of the situations listed, and more, are dominant among the staffs of the schools. This is long over due.

Anonymous said...

Father, have you changed your meds lately?

Religious have turned their backs on EVERYTHING religious life ever stood for. How do you think will help religious recover their Catholicity, Pope Francis. And I'm stopping right there.

rcg said...

Anon, the good news is that is not true. I was surprised, not in a good way, when the priest in my Mom's town in Tennessee knew about the previous Archbishop in Cincinnati, by name! Yikes. The good news is that the current AB in one of his first acts has allowed the FSSP to establish parish in Dayton and has the formation director of the Diocese helping people learn EF. He didn't do what I would have done as far as more abrupt course corrections, but the example was set and the doors opened. If it can happen here, it can happen anywhere.

Carol H. said...

The Dominicans of Mary Mother of the Eucharist in Michigan, and the Nashville Dominicans are very good teaching orders. I know that the first of the two is overflowing with vocations.

As new teaching and principal positions open at school, fill those positions with sisters from one of these orders. Eventually the school will be run entirely by one of these two good orders, and all problems will be solved.

Often, the right answer is the simplest one.

Anonymous said...

And the much larger Nashville Dominicans--of which the Michigan Dominicans are an offshoot--are truly overflowing with vocations. I think this is generally the situation with orthodox orders of women religious (perhaps orthodox men religious as well, of which I know less).

John said...

Are we to excuse the behaviour of teachers who fail to take responsibility for learning (the terms of their contract)? No, we should not. Teachers should do their "homework" with the same diligence they expect their students to pursue their studies.

Is it any wonder that students are illiterate—in matters of Faith and the basics, e.g., English and Math—when their teachers and parents are willfully or woefully ignorant? No, not in the slightest.

It seems that we have allowed a very low view of human potential to take hold. I.e., a view that assumes people are incapable of taking responsibility for any of their actions. Low expectation + low support = indifferent teachers and indifferent parents.

The view of the person the Church teaches is so much more exciting and life giving than the dissenters and malcontents would have us believe.

Anonymous said...

My grade school classroom looked almost just like the one shown here. In grades 1 through 8 we studied the Baltimore Catechism over and over. We had a "Religion" book with pictures and the same Bible stories over and over. High school was not much different. I don't remember ever discussing anything much. The only thing i recall about the question of sex was that it was all....from "impure thoughts to...well we never much got much was all a MORTAL SIN THAT WOULD SEND YOU STRAIGHT TO HELL. I don't think the young nuns who taught us knew much more than we did.

All of the Bible stories were taught as absolute fact....history. The talking serpent, Jonah and the whale...all fact. How many here believe in Creationism? Adam and Eve were two real human beings, and, like the current movie...that there was an ark with all of the animals?

Anonymous said...

And the fact that there were separate (and unequal) schools and churches for black and white Catholics never even came up. Maybe some things are worse, but some are really better than they were in the good old days.

Gene said...

In many cases, Blacks asked for their own Churches.

Anonymous said...

Did I step over the "don't offend Gene" line?

Anonymous said...

I realize he's kind of a delicate boy....bless his heart.

Gene said...

Hey, Fr. must have censored you. Welcome to the club. No, Sister Boy, I have no lines. You can step right up into my face any time you think you are ready.

Anonymous said...

"Sister Boy"? "Step right up into my face"? Grow up preacher.

Gene said...

Anonymous, I was speaking symbolically…LOL! You are the one who is whining about being censored.