Sunday 1st 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:

Hit job on Card. Pell because he’s doing his job

His Eminence George Card Pell was appointed by Pope Francis to oversee cleaning up the finances of the Holy See. He is doing his job. And so as Pell drills into the financial corruption and is getting closer to the…Continue Reading

Oil company hit man has Archbishop Cordileone in his sights

San Francisco, Calif., Feb 27, 2015 / 05:20 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Sam Singer’s public relations firm spun a Chevron oil refinery disaster in California and fought back a legal ruling in Ecuador that could have awarded billions of dollars to…Continue Reading

What about Henry VIII?

Interestingly, Jesus’ hard teaching that “what therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder” (Mt 19:6) follows not long after his insistence to Peter on the necessity of forgiveness (see Mt 18:21–35). It is true that Jesus did…Continue Reading

Sacrificing Priests on the Altar of Insurance

Fr. Bob (that’s what we’ll call him) was a faithful parish priest for more than 25 years. One day, a process server showed up at the rectory door and handed him a summons and complaint. The complaint alleged that some…Continue Reading

Catholic Colleges Must Save Students from Pornography Epidemic, Says Counseling Expert

Catholic colleges and universities owe it to their students to do everything within their power to help combat the destructive effects of pornography, argued Dr. Peter Kleponis in a recent interview with The Cardinal Newman Society. Kleponis, a licensed clinical…Continue Reading

Imagine: A Catholic Archbishop!

If it weren’t so predictable, it would be infuriating, but because of that, it is infuriating to thinking people. It’s happening again as San Francisco drops the hammer – again – on the Catholic Church and especially Archbishop Cordileone. He’s…Continue Reading

As storm brews, San Fran archbishop strikes back at school guideline critics

San Francisco, Calif., Feb 20, 2015 / 03:19 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Politicians have targeted San Francisco Catholic schools’ teacher standards, but Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone says they are a matter of Catholic mission and common sense. “Would you hire a campaign…Continue Reading

University of Scranton to end all abortion coverage

SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) – The University of Scranton plans to end employee health care coverage for abortions in cases of rape, incest and to preserve the life of the mother. The Times-Tribune of Scranton (http://bit.ly/1JstU9i ) reports Thursday that the…Continue Reading

Notre Dame Scandals under Fr. Jenkins Are Rooted in Diminished Catholic Faculty, Alumni Say

February 20, 2015, at 11:02 AM  |  By Kimberly Scharfenberger  | Following the election of University of Notre Dame President Father John Jenkins, C.S.C. to his third term, Notre Dame alumni spoke with The Cardinal Newman Society to share their…Continue Reading

Cardinal Napier: African Bishops Have Higher Priorities Than Communion for Divorced and Remarried

by CNA/EWTN NEWS 02/19/2015 Cardinal Wilfrid Napier speaks at the Vatican Press Office on Oct. 14, 2014. – Bohumil Petrik/CNA ROME — A leading African cardinal says the continent’s bishops want the upcoming Vatican synod to zero in on strengthening…Continue Reading

LGBT Catholic group gets special seating during Pope’s weekly address

(CNN)Members of New Ways Ministry — an advocacy group for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Catholics — have made three pilgrimages to the Vatican, under three different popes. But only once have they been treated like VIPs. That’s the treatment…Continue Reading

Cardinal Wuerl attacks “brother bishops” as “dissenters”

It is an open secret in Washington, D.C., that Donald Cardinal Wuerl has effectively banned Raymond Cardinal Burke from entering the Archdiocese of Washington.  Several sources have confirmed this to Rorate over the years, stemming from Wuerl’s disdain for any priest…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 at the close of the Spiritual Exercises – With a piece of Elijah’s mantle

2015-02-27 L’Osservatore Romano The meditations this morning, Friday 27 February, in Ariccia were the last of the Spiritual Exercises in which the Pontiff and members of the Roman Curia participated. Meditations were led by Carmelite, Fr Bruno Secondin, in the chapel of the House of Divin Maesto belonging to the Pauline Fathers. At the end of his reflection Friday morning, Pope Francis wanted to thank the preacher. “On behalf of everyone, myself included,” the Pope…Continue Reading

Pope Francis returns to Vatican after Lenten retreat

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis and members of the Roman Curia have returned to the Vatican at the conclusion of their  5-day Lenten retreat held in the town of Ariccia near Rome. The spiritual exercises began last Sunday (February 22nd) and took place in the Casa Divin Maestro centre in Ariccia. In brief remarks at the conclusion of the retreat the Pope thanked Carmelite Father Bruno Secondin for leading the spiritual exercises with them. Please find…Continue Reading

Charles Rice RIP

charlie rice

Word reached  us today that longtime Catholic activist and legal scholar Charles E. Rice died during the night of February 25. We ask our readers to pray for the repose of his soul and for the consolation of his family and many friends and associates. An ardent crusader and defender of the Catholic faith, his presence will be missed. Joseph Matt, President, The Wanderer

Pope, Curia reflect on superficial religiosity

  (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis and the Roman Curia are in the middle of their weeklong Spiritual Exercises in Ariccia, outside Rome. According to L’Osservatore Romano, the retreat master, Carmelite Father Bruno Secondin, has shared reflections with the Curia on the prophet Elias. In his reflection, Fr Secondin compared the worship of the false idols in Elias’ time with a modern-day religiosity that is interested in the superficial and in measures of faith “according to…Continue Reading

What If The Government Fears Freedom?

By ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO What if the current massive spying on Americans began with an innocent secret executive order signed by President Reagan in 1986? What if Reagan contemplated that he was only authorizing American spies to spy on foreign spies unlawfully present in the U.S.? What if Reagan knew and respected the history of…Continue Reading

Our Lady And The New Evangelization

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY Part 3 This article will look at the importance of the modern Marian apparitions, and particularly Fatima, and in this regard, this is what the Church, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (n. 67) says about private revelation: “Throughout the ages, there have been so-called ‘private’ revelations, some of which…Continue Reading

Hanging Rudy Out To Dry

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN Back in 1987, this writer was invited by friends to advise them on a press conference they had called to oppose President Reagan’s signing of an INF treaty to remove all nuclear missiles from Europe. My advice: Deplore the treaty; do not attack the president. The next day, Howard Phillips declared…Continue Reading

Darfur: Hell Without The Cameras

By JOHN J. METZLER UNITED NATIONS — In recent years, there has been a dearth of media coverage of Darfur’s humanitarian crisis. What had once been a focus for both diplomatic and high-profile celebrity efforts to detail human rights abuses during more than a decade of inter-ethnic conflict in Sudan’s troubled western region, has now…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “Should Serodiscordant Couples Be Permitted To Use Condoms?”

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 the book The Case Against Condoms, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + There are times when priests, ministers, and pro-life activists encounter what might be called the “ultimate hard…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

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catechesis In The Twenty-First Century

By Don Fier “In order to arrive at a systematic knowledge of the content of the faith, all can find in the Catechism of the Catholic Church a precious and indispensable tool. It is one of the most important fruits of the Second Vatican Council.” With these words in his apostolic letter Porta Fidei announcing the upcoming Year of Faith…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. As a longtime subscriber to The Wanderer, I am puzzled that your writers don’t hesitate to criticize and disagree with bishops and cardinals on particular issues, but when it comes to the Pope you automatically close shop, yet he is human just like the bishops and cardinals. There is no teaching in our Church that says one cannot disagree…Continue Reading

God’s “Foolishness” Is Wisdom

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Sunday Sermon for March 8, 2015 Third Sunday Of Lent (YR B) Readings: Exodus 20:1-17 1 Cor. 1:22-25 John 2:13-25 In the Gospel reading today, we hear about our Lord cleansing the Temple because the people had turned God’s house into a marketplace. The people, naturally, were appalled at this action because the buying and selling…Continue Reading

Pope’s Message For 30th World Youth Day . . . “Blessed Are The Pure In Heart. . . .”

VATICAN CITY (ZENIT) — Here is the Vatican-provided text of the Holy Father’s message for this year’s World Youth Day, which will be held on Palm Sunday, March 29, 2015, at the diocesan level. ZENIT News Agency published the text on February 17; all rights reserved. + + + Dear Young Friends, We continue our spiritual pilgrimage toward Krakow, where…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World . . . Lent: Season For Deeper Conversion From Death To Life

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Italians, when the subject of marriage and therefore also of children comes up, are quick to say, “Due è basta,” meaning, “Two children are enough.” Young people decide long before they even meet the person they will marry that it will be thus also for them. If you’ve learned to love Italy and the Italians…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Augustus Chapdelaine

By CAROLE BRESLIN Christianity has never been warmly welcomed by the authorities in China, but that did not stop the missionaries over the centuries who have gone there to save souls. Christianity has existed in various forms since the Tang Dynasty (eighth century). The first reports of Catholic priests going to China go back to the 13th century. John of…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . Blessed Jacinta Marto

By CAROLE BRESLIN In the Catholic classic Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis, we learn that wisdom is to be valued much more than knowledge. There is an entire book of the Old Testament called the Book of Wisdom. While holiness does not equal happiness, we can be sure that joy comes only from God. Little Jacinta Marto, the…Continue Reading