A contract addendum asking teachers at St. Vincent de Paul High School to adhere to strict Catholic views in the classroom, as well as participate in catechetical training during after-school hours, has upset some teachers.
The change affects about 200 faculty at SVHS, Cardinal Newman and nine other schools run by the Archdiocese of Santa Rosa.
To many, the move is the latest example of Bishop Robert Vasa’s strict interpretation of Catholicism since taking the helm of the archdiocese in 2011.
(Last year, Vasa said that all politicians who support abortion are unfit for public office, a marked departure from previous North Bay bishops who have tended to strike a more moderate tone.)
Vasa says the teachers' contract addendum is not intended to instill greater religious views in the classroom, but to make sure educators are familiar with Catholic Church teachings, and support and practice them to the best of their ability.
“I'm not presuming that the campus is liberal or conservative,” Vasa told the Press Democrat. “I am simply fulfilling my duty and responsibility to make sure that the Catholic faith, as it is presented in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, is clearly and consistently taught in the Catholic institutions of the Diocese.”
According to the Press Democrat, the addendum is called “Bearing Witness” and asks teachers to acknowledge that it’s their “duty…to believe, teach/administer and live in accord with what the Catholic Church holds and professes.”
The document then goes on to point out that “modern errors” such as contraception, abortion, homosexual ‘marriage’ and euthanasia are not consistent with the clear teachings of the Catholic Church.”
Teachers are called to “life of holiness” and reminded that they have been entrusted with the “formation of souls.”
The verbiage that strongly insinuates teachers live in accordance with Catholic dogma is what's ruffling some feathers, with some teachers saying the addendum infringes on their private views. But others say it’s a formality that's to be expected at a religious school.
“It’s essentially a document that says ‘I agree not to teach contrary to this,’” a teacher at St. Vincent High School, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Patch. “As an employee of a Catholic Church, I agree to not contradict the church (in the classroom)...I don’t think anyone is happy about it, but they’re not about to speak out. This is a personal project of this bishop and not a reflection of even the most devout Catholics at the school."
To read more about the recent changes, check out Press Democrat’s article here
Do you think the addendum infringes on teachers' rights? Do you think it limits the types of conversations that can take place at the schools run by the Diocese? Share your views in the comments below.