Bishop Calls on Teachers to Toe the Line on Gay Marriage, Contraception

In a recent addendum to a teachers' contract, Archdiocese Bishop Robert Vasa reminds faculty that it's their duty to live and teach according to the tenets of the Catholic Church


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.

Abner March 05, 2013 at 01:14 AM
Every one has the right to decide where to work, every community of faith has the right to choose their values, we are in a country where to decide what to do or to be is a right. Christians has the right to say no to homosexuality, is our choose...
TT March 05, 2013 at 03:55 AM
And I have the right to call Abner a bigoted moron because he has a problem with gays. He thinks god and baby jesus say it's wrong because he reads from a 2000 year old book written by ancient men. See how freedom works...
Colin March 06, 2013 at 12:23 AM
Yes Abner, and I and many others can choose to avoid your schools and churches. Given that a large majority of residents of Sonoma County, including Catholics, support gay rights and use contraceptives, I'd say it's very dangerous to aggressively exclude people for having the "wrong" views. But that is The Church's choice.
Chris March 13, 2013 at 10:47 PM
Lots of commentary on this from members of Bishop Vasa's former Diocese in Oregon who feel the Addendum to teacher's contracts is just one of several things he may have in store: http://ncronline.org/news/california-bishop-adds-belief-requirements-teacher-contracts#comment-828318413
Kebo March 14, 2013 at 03:18 AM
The reality is that teachers are professionals who know how to teach a subject objectively and impartially. A math teacher is not likely to be talking about moral issues. If the Bishop had confined his contract provisions to religion teachers and what they taught at school, maybe I could understand it. It seems to be okay for gay priests to preach from the pulpit, but not okay for a lay teacher to even think about alternative sexuality. The Bishop is obsessed with the subject probably because the clergy has been so rocked by sexual scandals. But the irony is that they always pick on the nuns or the laity and never themselves. In order to volunteer at a Catholic school you have to be fingerprinted and attend sexual abuse instruction, but we haven't been the problem, just the victims. It is bizzare. But this bishop is determined to make a name for himself as some kind of crusader no matter how many people he drives away. I think he is bucking for some kind of promotion which is probably the only way we will ever get rid of him. Never should this man have been made an administrator.


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