Sunday 23rd November 2014

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:

TOP CATHOLIC BISHOPS AIDE ON EXECUTIVE AMNESTY: OBAMA’S ‘LAST CHANCE TO MAKE GOOD ON PROMISE’

In a statement last Friday in the New York Times, the top aide on immigration for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) said that executive amnesty is President Barack Obama’s “last chance to make good on his promise…Continue Reading

Catholics Want To Learn More About Their Faith, Bishops Report

BALTIMORE – For three and a half years, members of several U.S. bishops’ committees have been trying to pinpoint what Catholics in the pew are thinking and why they accept or reject church teachings. To this end, they have conducted…Continue Reading

Vatican cardinal: Catholic charity ‘is not only giving food … but giving God’

The Vatican cardinal who oversees the Church’s charitable initiatives has emphasized again that Catholic charities cannot be satisfied with meeting the material needs of those they serve. “Charity is very linked with the proclamation of the Gospel, and doing charity…Continue Reading

Prof at Catholic university tries to justify same-sex ‘marriage’ acceptance from Scripture

Professor Gerald Schlabach of the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota recently published a piece for The Christian Century utilizing the writing of St. Paul to create an argument legitimizing acceptance of same-sex marriage. In light of Schlabach’s article, The Cardinal Newman Society…Continue Reading

Pro-Life Group: “We Will Not Obey the Obamacare HHS Mandate, Not Today, Not Ever”

The pro-life group Priests for Life was one of the earliest organizations to file a lawsuit against the Obama administration over its HHS mandate. The mandate compels religious groups to pay for birth control drugs and drugs like ella that…Continue Reading

Court Says Obama Admin Can Force Pro-Life Group to Obey Pro-Abortion HHS Mandate

The pro-life group Priests for Life was one of the earliest organizations to file a lawsuit against the Obama administration over its HHS mandate. The mandate compels religious groups to pay for birth control drugs and drugs like ella that…Continue Reading

Where Are Our Young People Going?

During the 10:30 Mass in my parish a couple of Sundays ago 32 boys and girls stood in front of the altar, faced the congregation, and formally affirmed their desire to be confirmed. It was part of the preparation for…Continue Reading

US Bishops Elect New Secretary, Discuss Health Care Ethics Guide

Baltimore, Md., Nov 11, 2014 / 08:22 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops voted Tuesday on several committee leadership positions, also considering several liturgical proposals and moving forward with a New York canonization cause. At their fall…Continue Reading

Fidelity to Bishop of Rome crucial to evangelization, US bishops say

Baltimore, Md., Nov 10, 2014 / 12:29 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In a message to Pope Francis on Monday, the U.S. bishops vowed fidelity to the Holy See and voiced hope that Pope Francis will attend the World Meeting of Families…Continue Reading

Nation’s Catholic bishops gather in Baltimore Monday

Nearly 300 bishops from across the nation will determine the coming year’s agenda for the American Roman Catholic church when the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops begins its annual fall meeting Monday in Baltimore. The bishops will spend four days…Continue Reading

Pope names new ‘foreign minister,’ prefect of Apostolic Signatura; Cardinal Burke given new position

The Holy See Press Office announced on November 8 that Pope Francis has named Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States, as the prefect of the Apostolic Signatura. Archbishop Mamberti replaces Cardinal Raymond Burke, who has served…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke: Church Risks Serious Tensions in Months Ahead

Cardinal Raymond Burke has said he is at the service of Pope Francis, has no personal animosity towards him, and those who claim the American cardinal is an opponent of the Pontiff are trying to discredit him. The head of…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

'From our friends at The Foundry'


Today . . .

Pope: All Christians Called To Be Missionaries, ‘Not Just The Few’

pope668

(Vatican Radio) All Christians and “not just the few” are called to intensify their missionary spirit and go out to proclaim the joy of the Gospel, said Pope Francis.He issued the call on Saturday in speaking at the Vatican to a group of more than 700 participants in Italy’s National Missionary Congress, which was organized by the Italian Episcopal Conference…Continue Reading

Pope Francis Pays Tribute To Blessed Paul VI’s Devotion To Mary

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis paid tribute on Thursday to Blessed Pope Paul the 6th and his great love for the Mother of God, saying he always turned to Mary at crucial and difficult moments for the Church and humanity. The Pope’s words came during a message which was read on his behalf by the Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin…Continue Reading

Pope At Santa Marta: Jesus Weeps

pope667

(Vatican Radio) Jesus weeps today when the doors of our hearts, those of the pastors of the Church, are closed to His surprises not recognizing the One who brings peace said Pope Francis at Mass Friday morning in Casa Santa Marta. Commenting on the Gospel of the Day, Pope Francis said Jesus weeps over Jerusalem because its people did not…Continue Reading

Pope At Audience: The Universal Call To Holiness

(Vatican Radio) “Every state of life leads to holiness, always”, but only if we are open to the grace of God’s gift, said Pope Francis Wednesday speaking of the universal call to holiness of all baptized at his general audience. Below a Vatican Radio translation of the Holy Father’s catechesis: Dear brothers and sisters, good morning. A great gift of…Continue Reading

The Synod And The New Evangelization

By JOHN F. KIPPLEY (Editor’s Note: John F. Kippley is the author of Sex and the Marriage Covenant: A Basis for Morality and other books and articles. With his wife Sheila, he is a coauthor of Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach and cofounder of NFP International. This commentary appeared on his blog [johnkippley.com] of…Continue Reading

A Book Review . . . Detailed Studies Of Galileo

By JUDE DOUGHERTY Finocchiaro, Maurice. The Trial of Galileo: Essential Documents, translated and edited by Maurice A. Finocchiaro. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Co., 2014. Pp. xii+160. This book draws upon Finocchiaro’s previously published works, The Galileo Affair: A Documentary History (1989) and Retrying Galileo: 1633-1992 (2005), at once making those masterful works more readily accessible,…Continue Reading

Reconnecting With Mary . . . The Apparitions At L’Ile Bouchard

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY Part 1 This is first of two articles about the Marian apparitions at L’Ile Bouchard, in northwestern France, near Tours, which took place from December 8-14, 1947. The situation in postwar France was very serious, and there was a real threat from Communism, and even of civil war, but, unknown to…Continue Reading

Applying Just War Theory

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK The conditions that must be present before military force can be justified, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, are as follows: “1. the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain; “2. all other means of putting an end…Continue Reading

A Parody From Hell

By DONALD DeMARCO “My symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state” — C.S. Lewis in The Screwtape Letters. + + + Screwtape: I am proposing a new method for promoting hatred. Wormwood: There is already a great deal of hatred in the world. Shouldn’t we set our targets on something…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Reading And Interpreting Scripture

By DON FIER We ended last week’s installment by launching into a discussion on a question of critical importance: “How is Sacred Scripture to be read and interpreted?” The significance and the relevance of this question become apparent if one examines findings outlined in the 2012 “Status of Global Mission” report, a publication of the International Bulletin of Missionary Research…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. We recently celebrated the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica. Why does the Church celebrate a church building in Rome? — P.R., Massachusetts. A. Because the Basilica of St. John Lateran is the oldest church in Christendom and is the church of the Pope, not St. Peter’s Basilica. The Lateran Basilica was built in the fourth century…Continue Reading

Be Watchful And Alert

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER First Sunday Of Advent (YR B) Readings: Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b, 64:2-7 1 Cor. 1:3-9 Mark 13:33-17 In the first reading today we hear of the conflict that has tormented humanity from the very beginning. The problem is that we blame God for everything. Isaiah cries out to God in a lament, “Why do you let us…Continue Reading

In The Footsteps Of St. Paul… Bishop Conley’s Pilgrimage Teaches About Evangelizing Culture

(Editor’s Note: Below is the latest column by Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, Neb., for the Southern Nebraska Register. Bishop Conley, in conjunction with Spirit Catholic Radio and others, went on an October 31 to November 9 St. Paul Mediterranean Pilgrimage Cruise. (ZENIT News Agency provided the text. All rights reserved.) + + + The ancient Christian writer and theologian…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Social Kingship Of Christ And Religious Freedom

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK “For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. When everything is subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all.” The first reading…Continue Reading

Cast A Gauntlet – Sola Scriptura: Part 1

Catholic Heroes… St. Cecilia

By CAROLE BRESLIN The Catholic Church has thousands of saints. For the last two millennia, people of great holiness, exemplifying heroic virtue, have been honored as saints, members of the Church Triumphant in Heaven giving honor and glory to God. Some have been formally declared saints by the Church, while others have been so honored from the beginnings of the…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

By CAROLE BRESLIN Since the United States is a relatively new country compared to the rest of the world, we do not have as many canonized saints as do France, Italy, or Spain. Elizabeth Ann Seton (died 1821) was the first person born in the United States to be canonized, although she lived many years after Kateri Tekakwitha (died 1680)…Continue Reading

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