Schools Create New Policies on Catholic Identity

The ongoing dispute over Catholic identity in schools has seen victories for both conservative and progressive sides.

In the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois, Bishop Thomas Paprocki instituted a new policy stipulating that parents of children enrolled in diocesan schools will be expected to meet with a pastor if they are “not living in accordance with church teaching,” the Springfield State Journal-Register reported. In addition, families who support positions contrary to those of the hierarchy could trigger expulsion of the student.

A three-year bargaining agreement for teachers at four San Francisco Catholic schools was accepted by a narrow vote. After months of negotiations with Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, the contract’s morality clause no longer referred to teachers as ministers but now reads that teachers “shall conduct themselves at all times during the performance of those duties in a manner in keeping with the standards of the Church,” Reuters reports.

Ted DeSaulnier, an executive member of the teachers’ union and a religion teacher at Archbishop Riordan High School, favored signing: “Our contract is not going to solve the conflict between a 2,000-year-old religious institution and the changing landscape of civil rights in the United States.”

The Archdiocese of -Philadelphia has instituted a similar measure, a memorandum of understanding that parents will be required to sign for the 2015-2016 school year. According to Philadelphia Magazine, one clause reads that for “Catholic education … its fundamental priority is fidelity to Catholic teaching and identity.”

St. Mary’s Academy in Portland, Oregon, rescinded an employment offer when it discovered Lauren Brown lived openly as a lesbian. The school initially offered Brown a year’s salary for her silence, but Oregon Live reported that the school board later voted to institute equal employment opportunities for gay and lesbian applicants. A representative from the Archdiocese of Portland intimated to Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) that the school’s decision put it in violation of canon law and jeopardized its affiliation with the archdiocese. OPB also reported that school president Christina Friedhoff affirmed in an email to parents that St. Mary’s welcomes diversity in its faculty and students.

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