Monday 30th March 2015

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

Morality Clauses For Catholic School Teachers

July 10, 2014 Frontpage No Comments

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK

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 fitzpatrijames@sbcglobal.net, and the mailing address is P.O. Box 15, Wallingford, CT 06492.

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

Cardinal Burke says confusion spreading among Catholics ‘in an alarming way’

LifeSiteNews: Since the extraordinary synod on the family, we have entered a period of uncertainty and confusion over several “hot-button” issues: communion for divorced and “remarried” couples, a change of attitude towards homosexual unions and an apparent relaxing of attitudes…Continue Reading

Bishop backs Catholic school’s removal of teacher over pro-marriage Facebook comments: cites Pope Francis

SOMERVILLE, NJ, March 23, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A Catholic school has decided not to rehire a theology teacher who rejected the argument in favor of gay “marriage” on her private Facebook page, her family has announced. The controversy began last…Continue Reading

Creepy Catholicism.

Martin O’Malley is the latest Catholic politician to come out as a duplicitous “Catholic.” Deacon Kandra posts an excerpt here from an interview in which O’Malley displays some amazingly twisted thinking to support homosexual marriage–even though he’s a Catholic. As far…Continue Reading

Polish Bishops’ Conference rejects Holy Communion for divorced and “remarried”

The Polish Bishops’ Conference has issued a communiqué firmly rejecting the proposals that divorced and “remarried” Catholics should be admitted to Holy Communion without amendment of life. The communiqué, published on 12th March, includes the following statement: “In view of the…Continue Reading

Celtic Catholic priest and friends pile on archbishop

On Monday March 16, KALW radio’s City Visions will host a program “Can Bay Area Catholics and Archbishop Cordileone find Common Ground?” Scheduled guests are the Reverend Vincent Pizzuto; Most Holy Redeemer parishioner and teachers’ union representative Ted DeSaulnier; and…Continue Reading

The Traditional Case for Capital Punishment

A group of Catholic publishers recently issued a joint statement urging an end to capital punishment. I have great respect for all of them – I have written for all of them at one point or another. I disagree with…Continue Reading

Cardinal Müller: Pope Is Not Above the Word of God and the Catholic Faith

Edit: Rorate tends to understate things.  They want a sober response.  We’d like to offer this translation of Giuseppe Nardi’s appreciation of their take on Cardinal Müller’s recent letter appearing in the Osservatore Romano and additional commentary from other important Italian…Continue Reading

Is the Synod Secretariat Stacking the Deck Again?

The Vatican today announced that the vice president of the John Paul II Pontifical Institute for the Study of Marriage and the Family will be a consulter to the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops. Professor José Granados‘ appointment,…Continue Reading

Gay activist: Of course our goal is to ‘indoctrinate children into LGBTQ agenda’

TORONTO, March 13, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) — A homosexual activist has candidly admitted that gay-themed materials and policies pushed in grade schools across North America are for the sake of “indoctrinating” children into an unquestioning acceptance of homosexuality. “I am here…Continue Reading

Pope . . . giving holy Communion to remarried divorcees “won’t solve anything”

On the second anniversary of his pontificate, the Holy Father gave a lengthy interview to a Mexican television journalist. – CNA/Bohumil Petrik VATICAN CITY — In a new, wide-ranging interview published Friday on the second anniversary of his election, Pope…Continue Reading

Cardinal rebukes head of German bishops: We can’t ignore Christ’s teaching on marriage

German Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, who headed the Papal Council Cor Unum until 2010 and was made a cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI, has publicly opposed the words and direction of the German Bishops’ Conference. In a Letter to the…Continue Reading

Catholic dissenters’ convention keynoter: A pornographic sex columnist?

Seattle, Wash., Mar 12, 2015 / 02:31 am (CNA).- Dan Savage coordinates an annual pornography festival. He has made obscene tirades about Pope Benedict XVI, denigrated the practice of monogamy, insulted high school students and publicly harassed politicians he opposes.…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 subscribe 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

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Pope Francis: Palm Sunday Homily

pope742

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis delivered the homily at Mass in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday – Palm Sunday – the beginning of Holy Week, 2015. Please find, below, the official English translation of the Holy Father’s prepared remarks. ***************************** At the heart of this celebration, which seems so festive, are the words we heard in the hymn of the Letter to the Philippians: “He humbled himself” (2:8).  Jesus’ humiliation. These words show us God’s way…Continue Reading

Pope: Life Of St Teresa Of Avila Can Help Renew Consecrated Life

st thera avila

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis said the life of St Teresa of Avila, characterized by “total self-giving to God,” is a “great treasure” that can help to renew consecrated life today. The pope spoke of the witness of St Teresa in a letter, issued Saturday, to the Superior General of the Order of Discalced Carmelites, Fr Xavier Cannistrà, to mark the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the saint’s birth. Listen to the report by Laura…Continue Reading

Mass at Santa Marta- Ode to joy

2015-03-26 L’Osservatore Romano Joy and hope are Christian traits. It is sad to find a believer who knows no joy, fearful in his attachment to cold doctrine. This was the very reason for Francis’ ode to joy during Mass at Santa Marta on Thursday, 26 March. At the beginning of Mass, the Pope acknowledged the Carmelite “Hour of Prayer for Peace”. “Dear brothers and sisters”, he said, “the day after tomorrow, 28 March, will be…Continue Reading

The exhibition of the Holy Shroud of Turin

pope741

(Vatican Radio/VIS) A press conference was held in the Holy See Press Office on Wednesday to present the upcoming exhibition of the Holy Shroud of Turin (Turin, 19 April – 24 June 2015), on the occasion of the second centenary of the birth of St. John Bosco, which will be specially dedicated to the young and to those who suffer. The Pope will also make a pilgrimage to Turin from 21 to 22 June. The…Continue Reading

Transforming The St. Patrick’s Day Parades

By LAWRENCE P. GRAYSON St. Patrick’s Day, which is a holy day of obligation for Catholics in Ireland, has been corrupted in America by homosexual activists who flaunt their opposition to Catholic doctrine. Celebratory parades have been co-opted for dissident political purposes. Since the seventh century, St. Patrick has been revered as the patron saint…Continue Reading

How Far Can One Sink?

By DONALD DeMARCO “With [Premier] Wynne’s sex education curriculum, we have at last splashed down in a miasmal sewer in which it’s hard to sink any further.” So writes Harley Price, who has taught philosophy at a number of prestigious universities. Many, including outraged parents and indignant members of the medical establishment, agree with him.…Continue Reading

A Book Review . . . A Spiritually Sound Approach To Depression

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY The Catholic Guide to Depression, by Aaron Kheriaty, MD, with Fr. John Cihak (Sophia Institute Press, 228 pages). Visit www.sophiainstitute.com or call 1-800-888-9344 for more information or for ordering. + + + This book has a lengthy introduction, and is then divided into two parts. The first is entitled “Understanding Depression,”…Continue Reading

What If Hillary Doesn’t Care?

By ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO What if Hillary Clinton’s emails were hacked by foreign agents when she was the secretary of state? What if persons claiming to have done so are boasting about their alleged feats on Internet websites and in chat rooms traditionally associated with illegal or undercover activities? What if this is the sore…Continue Reading

In Defense Of Economic Freedom

By JOHN YOUNG I believe in complete economic freedom. An extreme position, it will be said, and one not only against Catholic social teaching, but also against common sense. It implies, surely, that I have a heartless disregard for the vulnerable, or at least a naive trust in capitalism — the unrestrained capitalism that Pope…Continue Reading

The Wanderer Interviews His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke . . .

burk10

By DON FIER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, who previously served as Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome from June 2008 until November 2014, recently visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis. Prior to that he served as Archbishop…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Message From Cardinal Burke

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Is Mary The Mother Of God… Or Only The Mother Of Jesus?

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 3 Responding to a common misconception among separated brethren and ill-informed Catholics: What did the Early Christians believe about the Catholic doctrine on the divine Motherhood? Those men, women, and children who sacrificed everything for the true faith in Jesus — even their very own lives? They were imprisoned, tortured, murdered. Some were burned…Continue Reading

Divine Revelation: Gradual And Progressive

By DON FIER We left off last week reflecting on God’s motive for revealing Himself to us in a supernatural manner. In a word, His sole motive was that of boundless love for mankind. God gratuitously and unconditionally chose to “communicate His own divine life to the men He freely created, in order to adopt them as His sons in…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: As readers of this column know, we like to quote Fr. George Rutler from time to time because his weekly bulletin columns at the Church of St. Michael in New York City are sources of both information and inspiration. After starting his March 22 column by noting that history is “replete with the failures of famous figures,” such…Continue Reading

We Have Been Raised With Christ

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Easter Sunday (YR B) Readings: Acts 10:34a, 37-43 Col. 3:1-4 John 20:1-9 In the Gospel reading today, we hear about Peter and John entering the Lord’s grave after they had been informed by St. Mary Magdalen that Jesus had been taken away. We are told that when the Beloved Disciple saw the burial cloths there and…Continue Reading

Nothing To Toast Between China And The Vatican

By FR. BERNARDO CERVELLERA (Editor’s Note: Fr. Bernardo Cervellera is a member of PIME [Pontificio Istituto Missioni Estere], a society of apostolic life. He is the editor-in-chief of AsiaNews, a news service of PIME. (In the essay below, Fr. Cervellera noted China’s willingness, at least in words, “to enter into dialogue with the Vatican,” but decried its refusal “to compromise…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Faustina And Divine Mercy

By CAROLE BRESLIN The Divine Mercy Chaplet had never been one of my favorite devotions until my aunt died. As she lay in the hospital during her final hours, I sat in the room, visiting with the endless stream of visitors who stopped in to see their fellow volunteer. By six o’clock, the room was quiet. I decided to read…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. John Of God

By CAROLE BRESLIN In our time, it is common to hear parents bemoan the fact that their child is impulsive, or strong-willed, or irresponsible. Even the Holy Family suffered when our Lord, at the age of twelve, stayed behind in the Temple. How Mary and Joseph must have agonized over the missing Child Jesus. How do you tell God you…Continue Reading