US teacher quits over discriminatory new contract
RICHARD Hague, a teacher at a Catholic school for over 40 years, refused to sign a new contract being offered to teachers in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati that prohibits public support for causes the Catholic Church opposes, including same-sex marriage, and he has resigned.
Yesterday a rally was staged in support of Hague, who taught for 45 years at Purcell Marian High School until the controversial teacher contract – thought to be the first of its kind – was implemented. It states that teachers cannot publicly support homosexuality, sexual activity out of wedlock, or in vitro fertilisation.
More than 2,000 teachers in the archdiocese are required to sign to remain employed.
Hague wrote a letter expressing his position to the superintendent of Catholic schools:
I simply cannot believe that Jesus would require me to condemn my friends, nor that Jesus would require me to report any of my colleagues who supported, even loved, gay persons, nor do I believe for a moment that Jesus would punish me for my earlier ministry.
Previous contracts required teachers to comply with the Roman Catholic Church’s philosophy but the new contract for the first time cites specific examples of forbidden behaviour.
The archdiocese says the examples were added partly in response to problems including lawsuits that have arisen over violations of Catholic doctrine. But critics say it infringes on employee rights in part because it also bars them from publicly supporting causes the church opposes.
The National Association of Catholic School Teachers says it knows of no other archdiocese that has instituted the kind of language planned in Cincinnati.
According to this New York Times report, the despicable contract unleashed a dozen billboards which have gone up around Cincinnati over the last week or so. It asks:
Would Pope Francis Sign the New Catholic Teacher Contract?
New York Times columnist Frank Bruni wrote earlier this month that it is an “excellent question” because:
It flags the tension between what’s been said in Rome and what’s happening in Ohio, between a message of greater tolerance and the practice of the same old intolerance, between the direction in which the Catholic church needs to move and the matters of sexual morality on which it keeps getting stuck.
The billboards are sponsored by Cincinnati Voice of the Faithful, which is part of a quickly welling protest of the newly-detailed terms of employment.
While the new contract expressly forbids a “homosexual lifestyle” and any “public support” of one it says nothing about public support of the death penalty, something else that the church opposes, wrote Bruni. He added:
The new contract specifically rules out any use or advocacy of abortion rights, surrogacy, even in vitro fertilization. But it doesn’t address possible advocacy of the sorts of bloody military engagements that the church often condemns.
The new contract forbids ‘living together outside marriage’, ‘sexual activity out of wedlock’ and any public endorsement of either. But there’s no reference to concern for the downtrodden, to the spirit of giving, to charity. And while those are surely more difficult to monitor, aren’t they as essential to Catholic principles, and closer to the core of the faith?
Hague was quoted as saying:
The previous contract was two pages. It was sort of don’t-ask-don’t-tell.
The new contract is six pages and offends him in its suggestion that he must, for example, not express support for gay people in his life. Before it was distributed, Hague, 66, planned to teach for another five years. Now he doesn’t.
Hague, who described himself as “a recovering Catholic,” said that his objections were distilled by a priest who told him that the archdiocese was turning “matters of the confessional” into “matters of the firing line”.
Mindy Burger, 63, an art teacher for 18 years at a Catholic elementary school is also declining to sign the contract, which she called “really misogynistic”.
If I’m a teacher in a Catholic school and I’m a man, who’s going to know if I’m having sex outside of marriage. But if I’m an unmarried woman and get pregnant, I’m fired.
She attended that very school decades ago and reared her own children as Catholics, but she told Bruni:
At this point, I don’t consider myself Catholic anymore.
There are so many losers here: kids — many from the inner city — who depend on parochial schools that will now be drained of talent; younger teachers who can’t afford to quit and will carry an embittered attitude into their classrooms; Catholics everywhere, forced to wrestle anew with their church’s archaic fixations; church leaders, who have such a sad knack for driving people away. Isn’t that what Pope Francis was urging an end to?
Said Timothy Garry, a lawyer in the Cincinnati area who sent all three of his children to Catholic schools and is trying to persuade the Cincinnati archdiocese to adjust the new contract.
I don’t see much in the gospel about sexual stuff. With Francis, everyone feels so hopeful. That’s one of the ironies of this.