The Archdiocese of Cincinnati has made a clear stance on life outside the classroom for Catholic school educators.
New teacher contracts explicitly prohibit participating in and even supporting things such as gay lifestyles, out of wedlock sexual relationships, abortions and certain fertility methods that go against the teachings of the church.
After general logistic issues such as the date of the contract and general expectations of duties, the fourth section of the contract explicitly outlines some of the offenses the archdiocese deems worthy of termination.
“Such conduct or lifestyle that is in contradiction to Catholic doctrine or morals includes, but is not limited to, improper use of social media/communication, public support of or publicly living together outside marriage, public support of or sexual activity out of wedlock, public support of or homosexual lifestyle, public support of or use of abortion, public support of or use of surrogate mother, public support of or use of in vitro fertilization or artificial insemination, public membership in organization whose mission and message are incompatible with Catholic doctrine or morals, and/or flagrant deceit or dishonesty.”
Referring to the educators as “teacher-ministers,” the legally-binding document informs potential employees that they are agreeing to “teach and act consistently in accordance with the mission statement of the School and to strive to aid in the formation of students by personal witness to the state philosophy and teachings of the Roman Catholic Church (found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church).”
In the contract, the school is given permission to immediately terminate the teacher’s employment “upon any breach of this contract by the Teacher-Minister or any other good cause or upon the closing of the school for any reason."
The archdiocese’s spokesperson, Dan Andriacco, told WCPO that what’s now listed in the contract isn’t so much new as it is further spelled out for clarification.
“We’ve had a moral conduct clause in our contract for years. It’s become apparent to us that some teachers didn’t fully understand what that meant. The new languages makes the clause more explicit by giving some examples of conduct that is unacceptable as being contrary to Catholic teaching. We think that’s fairer to the teachers and a help to them.”
Part of the reason for the new contract wording is related to several inter-diocese incidents in recent years involving teachers and educators losing their jobs over morals violations.
One of the most prominent firings took place in October 2010, when computer instructor Christa Dias was let go after she became pregnant through artificial insemination.
Dias, a non-Catholic, testified she didn't know artificial insemination violated church doctrine or her employment pact. She said she thought the contract clause about abiding by church teachings meant she should be a Christian and follow the Bible.
In June 2013, a jury said the archdiocese should pay a total of $71,000 for back pay and compensatory damages and $100,000 in punitive damages. Dias had sued the archdiocese and two of its schools; the jury didn't find the schools liable for damages.
Another noteworthy firing took place five months before the controversial ruling and involved former City Council candidate Mike Moroski.
The archdiocese dismissed him from his assistant principal position at Purcell Marian High School in February 2013 after he wrote "gay people SHOULD be allowed to marry" on his personal website.
After authoring the post, Moroski was told to either remove the post and sign a form recanting his belief, or resign. He did neither.
The former school administrator said the Archdiocese of Cincinnati fired him because he was promoting an idea that is in contradiction of the Roman Catholic Church.
After the news of the new contract terms was released, Moroski told WCPO that believes the archdiocese has “truly over stepped their bounds.”
“I understand private industry and schools having their own private guidelines. However, when the restrictions force ‘top talent’ to shy away from the institution, I find the restrictions troubling, indeed,” he said.
As far as Moroksi is concerned, the school's goal to educate students is partially lost if the best and brightest teachers aren’t the ones imparting the knowledge.
“The only people who will be hurt by this are the students whose teachers will leave or he fired; not to mention the potential teachers who won't even come close the Archdiocese,” he said.
Moroksi pointed to dwindling archdiocesan enrollment numbers in recent years and stated the decision enforce the rigorous moral code isn’t in the best interest of the schools. Nor is it in the parents who send their children to local parochial schools if this how their teacher applicants are selected, he added.
Archdiocese needs to look in the mirror and ask ‘why.’ Catholics aren’t coming home. Schools are closing. And the schools that are closing or struggling are often the ones who educate low-income students and take a hit because they accept so many EdChoice students. So, students, especially lower income ones, are suffering so that a select few can dispense what they see as ‘morality.’”
Moroski added that the new contract “does not take the employees' humanity into account, and for that, I am sad and disappointed.”
However, as far as the last point is concerned, the archdiocese feels it isn’t forcing anyone to work there and this new contract states what is and isn’t acceptable.
In the agreement, the signee is asked to “acknowledge and agree” that the work of the Catholic Church, its agencies and institutions, has characteristics that make it different from the work of the other agencies and institutions.
“I share the common purpose of working diligently to maintain and strengthen the Catholic Church and its members. By word and example I will reflect all the religious values of the Catholic Church,” the contract reads.
Teachers are also asked to agree to “play a substantial role in conveying the Catholic Church’s message and carrying out its mission” (to their students).
Their five-fold education-based objective for educators is to: teach and convey the tenets of the Catholic faith; to build and live Catholic Christian community; to integrate learning with faith; to instill a sense of Christ’s mission, care for other and series; to draw the school community into worship.
So far, Andriacco said at this point the school district has only received a “few calls and emails about the contract, some of which are from parents.”