Contracts list banned acts for teachers in US Catholic schools

Teachers at many Catholic schools in two United States dioceses are facing contracts that list violations of Church teaching that could get them fired.

In the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in Ohio, such behaviours include abortion, artificial insemination and “homosexual lifestyles”.

Teachers have long been required to act in accordance with Church’s teachings, but spelling out behaviours that can led to dismissal in a contract is a new development in the archdioces.

The archdiocese says it’s fairer to teachers this way.

The new language comes after a series of lawsuits and other problems involving teachers fired over alleged doctrinal violations in Cincinnati.

Besides citing a broad range of prohibited activities, including use of a surrogate mother and sexual activity outside of marriage, the contract specifically bans “improper” use of social media.

Teachers would also be barred from “public membership” in organisations with missions conflicting with Church doctrine.

The new contract describes every teacher as “a teacher-minister”, wording legal experts view as an attempt to prevent fired teachers from bringing wrongful termination charges.

A Cincinnati archdiocese spokesman said that if a person is to represent the Church as a teacher, then he or she cannot publicly oppose Church teachings.

Opponents of the contract said it will force people to lie to keep their jobs and that some good teachers will leave.

The Diocese of Honolulu in Hawaii has approved a similar contract for teachers in its schools.

The contract, which is called the “Standard Teacher Employment Agreement,” is for full- and part-time teachers who must sign it every year they work.

It is scheduled to start in the 2014/2015 school year.

A Honolulu Catholic school spokesman said the ultimate goal is to provide positive role models for students.

“We want to be authentic about what our moral teaching is,” he said.

“We’re trying to be pastoral about this and centred on what’s best for the students.”

Writing for the National Catholic Reporter, Marianne Duddy-Burke of DignityUSA wrote that it is time for Catholics to tell their leaders that they have gone too far.



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