As the nation’s courts increasingly strike down popularly-supported state bans on marriage between men who have sex with men, and women who have sex with women, bishops increasingly are “bishoping”, to coin a term I use often in my book; i.e., they are at long last defending the faith against the onslaught always sure to come from the secular culture.
Diocesan Catholic schools in Cincinnati and Oakland, Calif., are weathering criticism for contracts that require teachers not only to witness to the faith in the classroom, but also in how they live their lives in the public square.
Condemnation of Catholic-school contracts that ask teachers to not controvert the Church in public have received dramatized coverage from the secular media in California and Ohio, where a slight number of teachers are opposing the contractual language.
A a teacher in a Catholic school it is heartening to see the dioceses in question standing their ground, emphasizing the dynamic role teachers play in transmitting Catholic teaching and values to their students.
“We have to faithfully represent what Christ and the Church stand for,” Oakland Bishop Michael Barber stated May last. Bishop Barber thus made the language of the annual teaching contracts in his diocese more specific, clarifying that teachers should not publicly defy Church’s teaching on controversial issues such as abortion and marriage. It is also hopeful to see that all but three of the 1,400 school employees have signed the contract. Oakland’s Catholic schools serve nearly 20,000 students.
“Morality clauses” are nothing new in Catholic-school employment policies. The Bishop of Oakland rightly explains that “All teachers are expected to join in the Church’s educational ministry, teaching and modeling the values and ethical standards of Christ and the Catholic Church.” As is usually the case, the change was met with some hostility. Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, a Catholic with a daughter with a homosexual orientation, branded the contract as “Inquisition-style” tactics. Also as is the norm these days. She was joined by homosexual-rights activists, holing a press conference in front of Oakland’s cathedral.
“My desire is simply to make explicit in the contract the importance of being a public witness to the values and practices that are an integral part of the Catholic faith. I am not interested in examining a teacher’s private life,” Bishop Barber is on record as having written. He further warned, however, that the means of social communication, such as Facebook and Twitter, are indeed “public manifestations,” and opposing Church teaching here has “consequences on a teacher’s ability to fulfill his or her ministry as a role model in a Catholic school.” Good for you, Eminence.