6-March-2013 -- EWTNews Feature |

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Calif. diocese asks teachers to commit to living Church teaching

The Diocese of Santa Rosa, Calif., has asked Catholic school teachers to sign an additional contract clause agreeing to set an example of Catholic living in both their teaching and their actions.

Deirdre Frontczak, the diocese's director of communications, told EWTN News on March 4 that the change aims to highlight teachers' duties to "develop Catholic young people in the faith."

She said Bishop Robert F. Vasa "has had a question about whether they can do that if they are not committed to the teachings of the Church."

The new addendum to the contract explains teachers' commitments to Catholic teaching in the face of "modern errors."

Frontczak said that since Bishop Vasa arrived in 2011, he has been examining the diocese's schools and religious education programs "as an active ministry of the diocese, not just as academic institutions or athletic institutions." The bishop sees the teachers' jobs as an extension of his teaching mission.

"Over the years, questions are sometimes raised about the equal level of commitment to Catholic teaching among various teachers in the Catholic schools," Frontczak noted.

The diocesan schools' contract with teachers has always stressed that Catholic teachers must be "a model of Catholic living and adhere to Catholic teaching in personal and professional life." The contract says non-Catholic teachers in a Catholic school are also models.

The contract also says that teachers must not "teach, advocate, model or in any way encourage beliefs or behaviors contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church."

A new addendum, "Bearing Witness," now goes into more detail about these expectations. The addendum says teachers are "called by God to a life of holiness" and should keep God in their "thoughts, words and deeds." "If you're not modeling this behavior people won't take you seriously," Frontczak explained.

The addendum says teachers must try to adhere to the Ten Commandments. Catholic teachers should recognize that the practice of their faith includes Mass attendance on Sundays and days of Holy Obligation. They must agree to "believe, teach and live in accord with what the Catholic Church holds" to the best of their ability.

The addendum also says that "modern errors," though they may be "broadly accepted" in society, are not consistent with "the clear teachings of the Catholic Church." These errors include contraception, abortion, euthanasia and homosexual "marriage."

Frontczak said there is nothing in the document that should surprise anyone. She also rejected the idea that the diocese is interested in "coming after the teachers."

"Nobody is coming after their personal lives," she said.

Bishop Vasa is not asking teachers to promise that they will never commit a sin, she added.

"He's asking them in their role as teachers to commit to honoring the faith, as the Church teaches it."

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat last week published a 1,200-word article on the new addendum, leading with the comments of one anonymous school teacher who said he probably could not sign the document.

Bishop Vasa told the Press Democrat he rejected as "fear mongering" the idea that the addendum is a move towards more religious dogma.

"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," he said.

Diocese school superintendent John Collins said that about 25 percent of the diocese's 200 school teachers are non-Catholic.

Other dioceses across the country have also asked teachers and religious educators to make their Catholic commitment explicit.

In 2012, the Diocese of Arlington, Va., required religion instructors to affirm their belief in Church teachings, including on controversial subjects.

Read more: http://www.ewtnnews.com/catholic-news/US.php?id=7172#ixzz2MnzgZchK

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