Sunday 23rd October 2016

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

Morality Clauses For Catholic School Teachers

July 10, 2014 Frontpage No Comments


Daniel J. Daly, associate professor and chair of the theology department at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire, wrote an article for the Jesuits’ America magazine on June 9 that deserves the attention of everyone — parents, teachers, and administrators — with an interest in our Catholic schools. He asks how we should deal with successful and dedicated teachers who violate the teachings of the Church in their private lives.
Daly offers as examples a Catholic high school teacher in Washington state who was fired after it was discovered that he was married to a man; an unmarried woman who was fired from a Catholic middle school in Montana when it was discovered that she was pregnant; unmarried teachers — a man and a woman — from a Catholic high school in Massachusetts who were fired when the principal found out that the woman was pregnant.
Writes Daly, “On the one hand, the four employees mentioned above were reported to be well qualified and good at their respective jobs. On the other, all four were publicly exposed as being in violation of Catholic teaching and in breach of the morality clause in their contracts.”
Daly understands the stakes. “These cases are especially difficult because, unlike Catholic colleges and universities, Catholic elementary, middle, and high schools teach children who may be encountering these moral questions for the first time. These teachers have a responsibility to create an environment in which students can learn how to live a virtuous life.”
Daly agrees that there is a need to respect the privacy of teachers in Catholic schools, but argues that the “rights of faculty and staff are limited by the rights of students to receive a high quality Catholic education. This is not to claim that the rights of faculty and staff are to be ignored but that these rights must be placed in their proper context.”
What is the “proper context”? Daly focuses on the question of whether the individual teacher’s violation of Church teaching leads to “scandal.” He maintains that “not every immoral action or mistaken belief is scandalous,” nor need it lead “others to believe that immoral actions and ways of life are actually morally licit.”
I don’t want to put words into Daly’s mouth, but what I think he is saying is that not every teacher who is living in sin in the eyes of the Church — unmarried pregnant women, or unmarried individuals living together, for example — is actively leading his or her students to the conclusion that the Church’s teachings on marriage are in error. For years, Catholic schools have succeeded at a version of a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. I submit that it has been a wise approach.
Permit me to give a few examples from my days teaching in a Catholic high school in the Bronx back in the mid-1960s. I can remember talking to a well-liked and successful English teacher at the school one afternoon. He was distraught because his wife had just left him and filed for divorce. He was distraught over the divorce, but the topic of discussion that afternoon was his fear that he was going to lose his job once the divorce was finalized. The school where we worked had a morality clause in its teachers’ contract.
I was a young teacher at the time, in my early 20s, and did not know how to respond. But a veteran teacher was also in the discussion. He assured our colleague that he had nothing to worry about.
“No one in the administration has ever asked you about your home-life before, have they? Why should they start now? Don’t bring up the divorce. Don’t make a big deal about it. It is not going to be an issue.”
“But the principal will find out,” my colleague shot back. “Everyone is going to know. You know how the rumor mill works.”
“That’s true,” the veteran teacher responded. “They will. But unless you initiate the discussion, no administrator will ask. Can you picture them putting you in a corner and trying to trap you over this?” The administrators at the school were Marist Brothers.
And that is how it worked. The teacher in question went through his divorce. He remarried, outside the Church. He never mentioned his marital status to his students. I left the school a few years later, but he worked there 30 years more, until his death.
Now it is true that the teacher lived about 20 miles from the high school. He didn’t bump into his students on the street. But I contend that even if lived two blocks from the school it need not have made a great difference. Students and parents might have whispered among themselves about the nature of his marriage. But they would not have known if there was an annulment involved. The only way the divorce would have become an issue would be if the teacher in question used his situation as a way to challenge in his classroom the Church’s teaching on marriage. He did not do that; and no in the administration forced him to. Don’t ask, don’t tell. No scandal.
Looking back on those years, I can also think of two unmarried men who could have been sent from central casting to play homosexuals, everything from a fondness for bowties and Broadway show tunes to an arch speaking style. Picture Tony Randall playing “Felix Unger” in the Odd Couple television series. But they never said they were homosexual. They did not challenge the Church’s teachings on homosexuality in their classes.
And to this day, I do not know if they were homosexual or simply men with effeminate mannerisms. There are such individuals. Felix Unger’s fondest wish, you may recall, was to reconcile his marriage. He was head over heels in love with his wife. Their sexual identity was never an issue. No scandal.
In the same week that Daly’s article appeared in America, a reader we will identify as S.M. forwarded to First Teachers an article from the June 6 issue of the National Catholic Register by Joan Frawley Desmond. Its topic was how Bishop Michael Barber, SJ, of the Diocese of Oakland, Calif., handles this challenge.
Frawley Desmond asked Barber to clarify what he meant when he inserted into the teachers’ contract in the diocese’s schools a clause stating that it is the responsibility of teachers to model Catholic values — both in and out of the classroom. She asked the bishop how he would enforce this policy when he also said there were “no plans to examine teachers’ private lives.”
Bishop Barber responded, “What you do in your private life is between you and God. But when what you do in your private life becomes public — either because you put something on Facebook or let all the kids know about it in class — becomes a source of scandal, and it directly affects your responsibilities as a teacher. That is what I am concerned about….I believe there’s a difference between moral stumbles, where we acknowledge a wrong and ask for forgiveness, and instances where we insist our behavior is okay.”
I submit that both Daly and Bishop Barber have found the intelligent middle ground on this issue. Or might I be missing something?

+    +    +

Readers are invited to submit comments and questions about this and other educational issues. The e-mail address for First Teachers is, and the mailing address is P.O. Box 15, Wallingford, CT 06492.

Share Button

2016 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Live From New York Should a Catholic Vote for Hillary or Trump?

Almighty God has been very good  in giving us as the day’s Gospel passage that of Our Lord’s famous admonition to “render to Caesar what is Caesar’s but to God what is God’s.” I say that in view of the…Continue Reading

Catholic university blasts ‘Unborn Lives Matter’ posters as ‘bigotry,’ bans them on campus

CHICAGO, Illinois, October 18, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – College Republicans at DePaul University were prohibited by the university president from displaying posters on campus advertising their group with the pro-life message, “Unborn Lives Matter.” Vincentian Father Dennis Holtschneider indicated to the…Continue Reading

For Archbishop Chaput, ‘Catholic Spring’ group did untold damage

Philadelphia, Pa., Oct 14, 2016 / 05:53 pm (CNA).- Archbishop Charles J. Chaput did not enjoy his first and only encounter with two leaders of Catholics United. “It was an interesting experience,” Archbishop Chaput recounted in his Oct. 13 column…Continue Reading

The anti-Catholic Catholics (and the bishops who support them)

Yesterday Ross Douthat of the New York Times embarked on a lengthy Tweetstorm —21 tweets in all—questioning whether it’s accurate to refer to the leaked emails from the Clinton campaign as evidence of “anti-Catholic” bigotry. Douthat—who is no friend of…Continue Reading

The next ‘deplorables’? Clinton campaign rips ‘backwards’ Catholic beliefs in leaked e-mails

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 11, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – “Conservative Catholics” are the latest Americans to be smeared by members of Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign, leaked emails revealed on Tuesday show. Catholic beliefs are bashed as “backwards” and conservative Catholics…Continue Reading

German Bishop’s New Proposal: “There Exists More Than Man and Woman”

The Catholic Church in Germany seems to be becoming more and more unbounded in its proposals. In the recent past, for examples, the official website of the German Bishops’ Conference,, has reported about the idea to have women cardinals; about…Continue Reading

Cardinal Sarah presents counter-vision to Francis as he launches new book

After being reprimanded by Pope Francis over the summer for calling on priests to face east while saying Mass, Cardinal Robert Sarah is refusing to back down and is becoming a rallying point of opposition to this papacy.  The Vatican’s…Continue Reading

Massachusetts’ highest court grants full parental rights to unmarried gay woman

BOSTON – The Mass. court that paved the way for same-sex marriage in the United States ruled Tuesday that an unmarried gay woman whose former girlfriend gave birth to two children through artificial insemination has the same parental rights as…Continue Reading

Shunned for supporting natural marriage, former Mozilla CEO is back with new browser

SAN FRANCISCO, September 28, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — The former CEO of Mozilla has released a new Internet browser called Brave. Brendan Eich, the creator of JavaScript, continues to lead the technological revolution with Brave, an innovative concept in Internet browsers.…Continue Reading

Lay Catholic Group: Tim Kaine’s Radical Views Stem From Embrace of Liberation Theology

An organization of committed lay Catholics is challenging Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine, who’s invoking his Catholic faith and the words of Pope Francis as a basis for his radical positions on abortion and marriage, as well as his…Continue Reading

Quebec cardinal won’t refuse funerals for those choosing assisted suicide

Cardinal Gerald Lacroix of Quebec said he has no intention to follow in the steps of his fellow Canadian bishops of Alberta and the Northwest Territories in refusing funerals for those who asked to be euthanized. “I don’t plan specific…Continue Reading

Shocking Report Reveals Scientists Have Created the Word’s First Baby With Three-Parents

A shocking new report claims the world’s first three-parent baby (pictured above) has been born. Children born through ‘three-person IVF’ would contain some genetic material from each of three different people. There are about 50 known mitochondrial diseases (MCDs), which…Continue Reading


Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.

  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Enter Comments Below

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “An Introduction To The Problem Of Euthanasia”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, a 150-page treatise on all of the aspects of euthanasia, e-mail him at + + + We have covered the definitions of the varieties of…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Philadelphia Archbishop Chaput welcomes ‘smaller church’ of holier Catholics

(RNS) In a stark prognosis for contemporary Catholicism, a leader of the conservative wing of the U.S. hierarchy has said that “a smaller, lighter church” of fewer but holier believers is preferable to one that promotes inclusion at the expense of traditional orthodoxy. In a speech delivered Wednesday (Oct. 19) at the University of Notre Dame, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput also suggested that many prominent Catholics are so weak in their faith that they ought…Continue Reading

Kansas archbishop blasts Kaine: He’s an ‘orthodox’ Democrat but a ‘cafeteria Catholic’


KANSAS CITY, Kansas, October 17, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — The archbishop of Kansas City, Kansas, has lambasted Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Tim Kaine for supporting abortion on demand while simultaneously touting his Catholic faith. Kaine is an “orthodox” Democrat but only a “cafeteria Catholic” who picks and chooses “the teachings of the Catholic Church that are politically convenient,” Archbishop Joseph Naumann wrote in a devastating critique of the Virginia senator. “It was painful to listen…Continue Reading

U.S. Catholics Under Attack

WikiLeaks did it again with another e-mail release, 1,200 of them, and this time exposing the deliberate attempts by the Clinton campaign to disrupt, undermine and, yes, try to destroy the Catholic Church. Their intent was (is) to plant the “seeds of the revolution” within the institution. Among the e-mails are communications between Clinton operatives that are clearly filled with bigotry. If anyone had any doubt that Hillary Clinton and the people around her have…Continue Reading

Fake Catholic Groups and the “Catholic Spring” Emails


It is now impossible to deny that Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Catholics United have worked for years to undermine and manipulate Catholic leadership Beginning in 2007, orthodox Catholic writers including myself wrote dozens of articles in an attempt to expose the funding and duplicitousness of two fake Catholic groups: the George Soros-funded Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Catholics United. (For example, see here and here and here.) Now,…Continue Reading

Archbishop Chaput’s Weekly Column: About Those Unthinking, Backward Catholics

Back in 2008, in the weeks leading up to the Obama-McCain presidential election, two young men visited me in Denver.  They were from Catholics United, a group describing itself as committed to social justice issues.  They voiced great concern at the manipulative skill of Catholic agents for the Republican Party.  And they hoped my brother bishops and I would resist identifying the Church with single-issue and partisan (read: abortion) politics. It was an interesting experience.…Continue Reading

A Disillusioned Marxist Professor

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK I spent much of my adult life observing left-wing academics who professed a fondness for socialism in one form or another. Some were my professors, others colleagues. More than a few were New Left Marxists who spoke openly in admiration of Mao, Fidel Castro, and the Sandinistas. One woman I taught…Continue Reading

The March To Totalitarianism

By DONALD DeMARCO Hannah Arendt, best known for her denunciation of totalitarianism in her book, Eichmann in Jerusalem, has made the comment that “the aim of totalitarian education has never been to instill convictions but to destroy the capacity to form any.” Totalitarianism can appeal only to the unthinking masses. A true education, let it…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “Advance Medical Directives: The Living Will”

By BRIAN CLOWES (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, “Euthanasia,” e-mail him at + + + “Evil committed for a good cause remains evil.” “Even when it succeeds?” “Above all when…Continue Reading

The Joke’s On Us

By DONALD DeMARCO The definitive Jack Benny joke is well known. Originally aired in a March 28, 1948 episode, the legendary comedian is accosted by a mugger and given the option, “Your money or your life!” A long pause follows. The gunman reiterates, “Look, bud! I said your money or your life?” Benny replies, “I’m…Continue Reading

“Pope’s Day” . . … The Lost Tradition Of A November 5 Anti-Catholic Feast Day

By RAY CAVANAUGH In much of colonial America, November 5 was known as Pope’s Day. This was not a day of celebrating the Pontiff, however. In fact, violence would erupt over who got the privilege of burning the Pope’s effigy. Pope’s Day (also known as “Pope’s Night” or just “Pope Day”) was the colonial offshoot…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

What Is Faith?… Other Attributes Of God

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA Part 8 “I love thee, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (Psalm 18:1-2). The enthusiasm with which the psalmist praises God our Lord comes from his knowledge of God’s…Continue Reading

Confirmation In The Economy Of Salvation

By DON FIER Part 2 In the introductory paragraph of its section on the Sacrament of Confirmation, the Roman Catechism [RC], promulgated in 1566 by Pope St. Pius V soon after the Council of Trent, are the following words: “If there was ever a time when the Sacrament of Confirmation needed to be explained carefully, that time is now. All…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: J.H.T. of North Carolina, a deacon who has been a witness to the “liturgical wars” of the past half-century, has recommended an “extraordinary book” — Peter Kwasniewski’s Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis: Sacred Liturgy, the Traditional Latin Mass, and Renewal in the Church — that he says should be read by all Catholics, clergy and lay, who…Continue Reading

The Lover Of Souls

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Thirty-First Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: Wisdom 11:22-12 2 Thess. 1:11-2:2 Luke 19:1-10 In the first reading today, we are given a good perspective on things: Before the Lord, the entire universe is less than a drop of morning dew on the Earth. When we consider one tiny drop of dew in comparison to…Continue Reading

The Clergy’s Silence, Ambiguity, And Dissent Are Destroying The Family

By FR. SHENAN BOQUET (Editor’s Note: Fr. Shenan Boquet is the president of Human Life International, and he travels around the world spreading the Gospel of Life in that role. He is a priest of the Houma-Thibodaux Diocese in Louisiana where he served before joining HLI in August 2011. (Fr. Boquet’s commentary below on the silence of the shepherds first…Continue Reading

Blessed Giuseppe Puglisi

By CAROLE BRESLIN When a society is riddled with evil and corruption, the worst thing we can do is to remain quiet. If we truly believe in God, then it is our obligation to do all we can to save the souls in danger of being lost in such a society. The threats and dangers of this world are not…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Gerard Majella

By CAROLE BRESLIN God works many miracles through the weakest persons so that their lives read like a fairy tale. Old or young, sick or poor, powerful or destitute, all are touched deeply by their encounters with such men of God. Such was the life of St. Gerard Majella, the patron saint of expectant mothers and young children. Domenica, a…Continue Reading