Bp. Vasa (D. Santa Rosa) getting blow-back for requiring Catholic teachers to adhere to Catholic ways

Remember what Bp. Vasa is doing in Santa Rosa?   He is requiring that teachers in Catholic schools live – gasp! – according to Catholic teachings and mores.  Imagine such a thing!

The Cardinal Newman Society, which focuses on the quality of Catholic schools, has this … btw … check out their spiffy feed on the right side bar on this blog …

Parents Resist Bishop Vasa’s Efforts to Strengthen Catholic Education

March 18, 2013, at 10:32 AM  |  By Tim Drake |

The Press Democrat reports that a group of parents are resisting Bishop Robert Vasa’s effort to have the Diocese of Santa Rosa’s parochial school educators sign a contract addendum stating that they will uphold the Church’s teachings.

The parents of students at Cardinal Newman High School, worried that the addendum might drive away teachers, are seeking a one-year reprieve that was reportedly given to teachers at a K-8 school in Ukiah.

According to the article, parents are concerned that Bishop Vasa may be considering implementing a catechetical program similar to one adopted in the Archdiocese of Kansas City. That program requires educators to take classes through theSchool of Faith to “provide doctrinal and spiritual formation” stressing “the call to prayer, virtue, and holiness of life.”“I’m a Catholic, but to have the bishop do this is not the type of Catholicism my faith teaches me,” said Lori Edgar, the parent of a Cardinal Newman senior and freshman.  [Then maybe, Lori, the problem is that what you think being Catholic is, is out of step with what the Church thinks being Catholic is.  Could it be?  Good sources for a reliable answer could be the local bishop and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.]

Catholic Education Daily is an online publication of The Cardinal Newman Society. Click here for email updates and free online membership with The Cardinal Newman Society.

It’s all part of the New Evangelization, folks.



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  1. Clinton R. says:

    “I’m a Catholic, but to have the bishop do this is not the type of Catholicism my faith teaches me,” said Lori Edgar, the parent of a Cardinal Newman senior and freshman.

    If Ms. Edgar knew what the Catholic faith teaches, then she would know the Bishop is doing his job of upholding the teachings of the Catholic Church. As Father has mentioned many times, the bishop’s solemn task is to keep souls out of hell. I wonder what Ms. Edgar has been taught about the Catholic faith? I would be willing to wager it is the “Spirit” of Vatican II nonsense that has killed the Faith in many places. I pray for Bishop Vasa, that God may strengthen him to continue to uphold and defend the Catholic faith.

  2. heway says:

    I wonder, Father, how many teachers will refuse to sign. This is a diocese that was torn about by the indiscretions of a previous bishop – a man loved by many, including young members of my family. The whole affair left a bad taste in the mouths of the catholics of the diocese. My son’s Newman Club director was involved in an abuse case at the same time, in the same diocese.
    I’m with the bishop. Teachers must have ongoing religious education as well as other subjects.

  3. slaveofmary says:

    It’s ironic that the very thing this good Bishop is trying to combat is a Church filled with misinformed individuals such as Lori. She obviously has been taught the wrong faith and serves as Exhibit A in proving the necessity of such a program. God bless Bishop Vasa. Our Lady Seat of Wisdom, pray for us.

  4. JacobWall says:

    He’s not even asking for that much. According the last post, this “means abiding by the Ten Commandments, going to church every Sunday and heeding God’s words in thought, deed and intentions.” You’d think that if someone was considering teaching in Christian school, they would take that much for granted.

  5. JARay says:

    I am a long-retired teacher. I was never required to swear to such a set of rules but I would indeed, wholeheartedly, have done so. Catholic schools should never employ teachers who are not fully in support of all the teachings of the Church. Non-Catholic teachers are not excluded from having to support Church teachings. The school should be an extension of what Catholic families need to teach their children.

  6. catholicmidwest says:

    You can’t assume the parents are particularly Christian, even if they are Catholic. Poor bishop Vasa, who’s a great bishop, is learning the hard way. Anybody who spends much time around the Catholic schools finally picks up on this sooner or later. It’s scary.

  7. catholicmidwest says:

    Oh, and Catholic schools sometimes have a large number of non-Catholic students. Where he is, Bishop Vasa’s schools may not, but in some larger cities some Catholic schools have more than 50% non-Catholic students and many non-Catholic teachers. It’s not right and we shouldn’t be doing it, but we have been.

  8. Maynardus says:

    In this day and age it’s hardly surprising to hear that a Catholic bishop acting like… a Catholic bishop(!) has elicited howls of protest, but I must confess that I was shocked to learn the sources of the whinging. As parents of six, we chose to homeschool for several reasons, one of which was that when we attended an open house at the local “catholic” school they basically apologized for being Catholic! “We don’t really emphasize that here!”, we were told! But they’re full-up at around $15k/year… But from what I know of (most of) the folks who send their kids there, their reaction would probably be the same as these poor benighted half-wits in Santa Rosa. But it’s still amazing to actually hear it…

  9. Cantor says:

    The opening lines of Cardinal Newman High School‘s Mission Statement read:

    Cardinal Newman is a Catholic, college preparatory high school. Our mission is to educate our students in the wholeness of mind, body, and spirit through the teachings of Jesus Christ as proclaimed by the Catholic Church.

    Sadly, it doesn’t sound as though the faculty is as enthusiastic as they might be. Given the state of teacher employment these days, I suspect they could re-staff the Diocesan schools without a lot of difficulty.

    The complete Mission Statement, etc., can be found at http://www.cardinalnewman.org/s/206/index_noHeader.aspx?sid=206&gid=1&pgid=877

  10. Kathleen10 says:

    Let’s hope the policy gets implemented now that some parents have deemed it unpopular. “A smaller church”, is what the newly elected Pope Benedict said could result from circumstances like this, if the basic tenets of the faith were rejected, and people walked away. Someone has to be willing to endure a smaller church and stay the course nonetheless.

  11. Elizabeth D says:

    Call to Action has a big push right now for “church workers’ rights”. For instance the idea that it is a gross violation of Catholic school teachers’ rights that they should be in accord with Catholic teachings. There is a documentary film being produced on that topic. It will also feature Ruth Kolpack of the Madison Diocese, a CTA member who was fired from a parish staff position after she wouldn’t renounce belief in “gay marriage” and “women’s ordination”. Search YouTube for her name and you should be able to find videos of her and her story, that are a preview of that film.

    Legally, churches and religious schools have very well established rights to employ or not employ people on the basis of their religious/moral beliefs. Call to Action et al have recourse only to media noisemaking to try to advocate to pressure parishes, schools and dioceses to employ CTA type “change the Church” heretics teach the Catholic Faith. I think this is pretty transparent and ridiculous, personally.

  12. Gail F says:

    Catholicmidwest: I don’t see why Catholic schools can’t have 100% non-Catholic students, if that’s who needs to be educated. But even if they do, the staff should either be Catholic or abide by Catholic rules. That’s because the SCHOOL is Catholic, whether the students are or not.

  13. Imrahil says:

    The Knight von Kuehnelt-Leddihn once asked the question: Would you prefer a prison with hostile wardens or hostile fellow-prisoners?

    My point is: A Catholic school where the Catholic students are not sufficiently numerous as to (assisted by the school’s profile of course) shape the character of the studentship-as-a-whole, is a practical impossibility. Could even be damaging.

    (I include uncatechized Catholics and Catholics who have, by upbringing, views of the sort called “liberal”.)

    100% non-Catholics? No. Whatever is possible, that is not.

  14. MouseTemplar says:

    This bishop is obviously trying to help his flock obey the directives set forth for teachers and parents by Gravissimum Educationis. He has his work cut out for him if the school staff is anything like the one we deal with at my son’s catholic-in-name-only school. We’re only partly done with his first year there and are already worn out with the apparent ignorance of the faith and the stonewalling of our suggestions and complaints evident in every interaction. You’d think there was a war on [or is there?].

    That said, we won’t be scraping and saving to send him there next year. We’ll spend more yet to send him to the Classical Trivium Academy where he at least will begin his day with a recitation of the Nicene Creed instead of a “Song to the Rainbow” and begin learning Latin instead of “How Our Families Ruin the Rainforest”.

  15. oldcanon2257 says:

    If we only had enough solidly formed and loyal Catholic clergy and religious (like those learned Jesuits and Dominicans of old), the Church could have Catholic schools in the US staffed exclusively by them again thus effectively implementing the New Evangelization in the academic sector. In that case, the amount of time those teachers are required to teach Catholic religious education and to lead their students in other Church-oriented tasks could be increased significantly leading to students AND parents being more well-catechized in the Catholic Faith. There would be no issue like the one in Santa Rosa. First, teachers who are clergy and religious are subject to canon law. Second, even if, God forbid, teachers who are clergy or religious refuse to comply with “oath of fidelity” or other similar requirements, get disciplined then are diabolically influenced to file lawsuit against the Church in civil court, their suit will have no merit (and consequently dismissed) because the clergy and religious should be “minister” within the meaning of “ministerial exception”.

    Recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in “Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC” seemed to side with churches.

  16. vox borealis says:

    Sometimes I think the Church in the western world should just get out of the education business. I know that is a drastic statement, but basically they (and we) have fumbled the ball with Catholic schools for the last fifty-plus years, and the problems are so deeply entrenched, that when the occasional bishop tries to correct the problems, he gets pilloried. So I say, get rid of the lot of them, Shut them all down. Then found a handful of new Catholic schools where, it will be stated up front, the teachers and curricula will have to conform to Catholic standards, where Catholic identity will be fostered and not apologized for. The chickens are sure coming home to roost.

  17. Gaetano says:

    As a former Catholic high school teacher, I would have been overjoyed to sign a statement like that. It also would have alleviated my ongoing frustration of having my fellow teachers undermine the good lessons I was trying to impart to my students.
    Oh that they had required my fellow staff in university ministry to do the same….

  18. iowapapist says:

    Catholic schools exist to evangelize. The bishop’s actions serve this end.

  19. AAJD says:

    The Diocese of Ft. Wayne-South Bend was also, this week, told by a judge to proceed to trial in a civil suit brought by a woman who, in plain violation of the terms of her contract as a teacher in a local Catholic school, went out and used IVF to try to conceive. I hope it’s eventually thrown out, but in the meantime the diocese is forced to shell out in legal fees for what seems to me an obvious non-case.

  20. KAS says:

    It is about time some move was made to make Catholic schools actually Catholic. If the Baptist kids at the Catholic School are not in danger of being converted to Catholicism, then the Catholic school is NOT Catholic enough.

    Which is why we plan to home school our two younger ones. Our local Catholic school, I hear has improved in recent years, but truthfully it was a bad move to send my older kids there.

    If a Bishop is actually insisting on catechesis for the teachers, bully for him!! He ought to be doing that at the minimum! And if he makes sure the teachers actually teach Catholicism ALL the BETTER!

    I pray he doesn’t cave and that the movement is catching!

  21. EXCHIEF says:

    Bp Vasa did pretty much the same thing when he was Bishop of the Diocese of Baker Oregon. In that case he required that CCD teachers sign a document similar to what is at play in Santa Rosa. However, he left it up to individual Pastors to certify to him that all CCD teachers had complied. I know, for a fact, that in one Parish such a certification was made when not all CCD teachers complied. In fact, in that parish, CCD was taught by several who openly disagreed with the Church’s teachings on marriage, abortion and contraception.

  22. Bob B. says:

    This “type of Catholicism” is the problem in Catholic education. For the most part, many parents don’t know the Faith themselves and they are quite content to have their children believe, as they do, that their “version” is the one everyone follows.
    Some teachers also identify with the lack of proper catechesis because this is how they were raised. Unfortunately this sentiment also applies to the (arch-)diocesan education departments, as well.
    Having taught in elementary and high school, I am sure that a solid foundation needs to be first laid in elementary and middle school. For the most part, teachers have to depart from the religion books students use (most are not worth the paper they are printed on), but you may run into problems with the hierarchy. (I have, despite raising ACRE (Religion) test scores significantly above the national average, as well as my 8th graders scoring at a 10th grade level in math and at an 11th grade level in science at the beginning of the school year!) (My greatest accomplishment was to have two students tell me they wanted to be priests!)
    The “rule” seems to be, don’t be “too conservative”(as a priest told me) or you’ll be shown the door or not have your At-Will contract renewed. There is no recourse.
    Unfortunately, there will be some who will sign the “promisory note,” as it were, who will not abide by it and there will be principals and Catholic education officials who will look the other way. This requirement needs to be in place for all in the Catholic educational system, just as a mandatum does too. We have to start somewhere, but there remains more to be done.

  23. Navarricano says:

    I have only once had to sign such an addendum, at a Catholic university where I taught for a few years. I was happy to do so and would do so again in a heartbeat.

    A number of years ago, when I still lived in the States, I taught in an all-boys’ Catholic high school. A colleague there once ridiculed a student who was involved in the Pro-Life club in front of the other students in class, and announced openly to the boys in the classroom that he had undergone a vasectomy! The principal of the school reprimanded him, though he kept his job. He is still there as far as I know (I left a few years later) and I have no indication that the situation in the school ever improved. Happily, I now teach in a school in which it would never occur to a member of the faculty to do such things, nor to dissent from the Church’s doctrine or moral teachings. Nearly all of us are practicing Catholics, and, yes, candidates are selected carefully on the basis of their adherence to the Catholic Faith. Of course, there are some teachers here who do not go to Mass outside the school, but they support the school’s mission and do not undermine the children’s religious instruction, which is handled only by teachers who practice the Faith.

    Bravo Bishop Vasa for your firm stand and clear teaching!

  24. LarryW2LJ says:

    The school that my kids attend has a significant population of students who are not Catholic (about 15%, I believe). At the time of registration, the parents and families of these children have it made VERY CLEAR to them, that they are registering their children into a Catholic school. Their children are required to attend ALL Masses and prayer services with the rest of the children and they are NOT exempt from religious education, either. These kids of other faiths (some of which are Muslim) are not shielded in any way from Catholic teaching and doctrine.

    I do not know all the teachers, personally; but I do know a good number of them on more than just a “name and a face” basis. These are all good people who view their positions as a ministry and not just a job or career. I am not 1000% certain, but I do believe there is a “faith and morals” clause in their contracts that they agree to when they sign on for the job.

    Could they do a better job? I suppose – it seems no one teaches like the good ol’ Bernardine Sisters taught me (bring back the Baltimore Catechism – please!). But even saying that, I keep a tab on what my children are being taught and there is no flukiness or unsound theology being stuffed into their heads.

  25. CPT TOM says:

    [Then maybe, Lori, the problem is that what you think being Catholic is, is out of step with what the Church thinks being Catholic is. Could it be? Good sources for a reliable answer could be the local bishop and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.]

    This describes one of my sisters to a T and she’s been teaching in Catholic Schools for 30 years. I just found out this recently that she voted for and campaigned for Obama twice as she waits for the Church to move into the 21st Century by abandoning all its Medieval trappings. This attitude undermines completely the identity of our Children to be Catholic…instead it sets them up to be Liberal Protestants. It is like having a fifth column movement in our midst destroying the faith. God bless this Bishop, and I hope more of them get the courage to clean up the schools!

  26. The Masked Chicken says:

    Oy! It’s the Ten Commandments, not the Ten Suggestions.

    “I’m a Catholic, but to have the bishop do this is not the type of Catholicism my faith teaches me,”

    Dear Woman, who told you that you know anything about the Catholic Faith? Oh, that’s right, being Catholic means being, “nice.” You, “feel,” you know what the Fatih teaches. The Press Democrat is looking for any quote that agrees with their foregone conclusion, whether the person making it knows what they are talking about, or not. Great way to be used, Lori.

    There are two words I think Bishops do not use enough and they should make a reappearance: shut up.

    The Chicken

  27. The Masked Chicken says:

    Okay, I might have been too hard on Lori and maybe a bit rash in judging. It is so easy to sin in the combox. I once had a priest in the confession tell me that, direct quote, “Blogs are evil.” While I don’t agree, I suspect that there might be a correlation between how people post on blogs and how they act on the highway. We need to get the term, “blog rage,” put into the dictionary.

    The Chicken

  28. Athelstan says:


    This attitude undermines completely the identity of our Children to be Catholic…instead it sets them up to be Liberal Protestants.

    For all too many implementations of the Council, that seems to have been a feature, not a bug.

    It must be odd belonging to a religion, most of whose history, traditions, and many of its teachings you find embarrassing or even shameful.

    Kudos to Bishop Vasa for doing the hard work of trying to restore the Catholic identity of his schools.

  29. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    The only thing I don’t like about Bp. Vasa’s Addendum is his calling it an Addendum; it’s not an Addendum, it’s part of the new contract, not an addition an old one.

  30. catholicmidwest says:

    If you force people to undergo catechesis it won’t work. First, they have to become friends of Christ, followers of Christianity. Only then will catechesis take hold when they get it. Otherwise, you get something else, and it’s not a good thing. This is where all the resistance and fighting in the Church is coming from.

    Catholic schools shouldn’t be using the schools to be attempting things they won’t address in other parish ministries, like raw evangelization. The statistics say that merely attending a Catholic school is not a factor in remaining a Catholic as a young adult. In fact, it can have the opposite result. I’ve seen it many times myself as a Catholic school teacher.

  31. catholicmidwest says:

    You cannot make assumptions about the people in the pews next to you. You don’t know what they believe and what they don’t believe if they don’t tell you. And you can decide something and then not get support and be totally blindsided. There is a personal culture of silence about commitment in the Catholic Church. This is a situation familiar to anyone who’s ever worked for the Church. This is the problem Bishop Vasa is having.

    The answer isn’t doing the same thing we’ve always done, only harder and louder. No. The answer is conversion and friendship with Christ–the new evangelization. When people have a personal stake in their relationship with God and a personal prayer life, then holiness and reverence and appropriateness and all the things traditionalists want become not only possible, but NORMAL.

  32. JacobWall says:

    Another case of “I’m a Catholic, but …” Is there a logical way to prove that “I’m a Catholic, but …” means the same as “I’m not a Catholic”? I’ve found that you can pretty much understand it to mean the same thing.

  33. JacobWall says:

    and as a side note, “I’m a devout Catholic, but …” means “I am emphatically opposed to all Catholic teachings.”

  34. catholicmidwest says:

    People keep looking for a “litmus test,” a shorthand based on appearance, a shortcut. There isn’t one. You won’t know what people really believe about God until they tell you, if they tell you. Many Catholics don’t talk about basic belief; rather they want to talk about behaviors and appearances. It’s a modern, and now post-modern, Catholic thing.

  35. The Masked Chicken says:

    “and as a side note, “I’m a devout Catholic, but …” means “I am emphatically opposed to all Catholic teachings.”

    “I’m a devout Catholic, but I like to eat hot dogs,” means I’m emphatically opposed to all Catholic teachings??

    “I’m a devout Catholic, but I hate the Pope’s new shoes,” means I’m emphatically opposed to all Catholic teaching?

    Faith and Morals. Faith and Morals.

    The Chicken

  36. Bob B. says:

    One way to prove you are really Catholic might be to say something in Latin?

  37. WhollyRoaminCatholic says:

    I’m proud to teach in one of Archbishop Naumann’s schools in beautiful Kansas City. It is an honor to work in a Catholic school that bucks the trends of Catholic education by actually providing a Catholic education.

    Do you want to see it in your diocese? Send a kind letter to their Excellencies, Bishop Vasa and Archbishop Naumann to thank them for caring about giving a Catholic education to Catholic students in Catholic schools– and send a copy of the letters to YOUR bishop!

    There are dissidents entrenched everywhere. Attacking them will not bear so much fruit as supporting the bishops– and schools!– who are doing it the right way. Vote with your prayers, letters, feet, and TUITION! The bishops need teachers who care to teach the truth, but they can’t do it if the laity doesn’t care to demand it in solidarity.

  38. AnnAsher says:

    What Bp Vasa is doing is encouraging and is as it should be. At my husband’s pro life crisis pregnancy center – he requires volunteers to live by the morality we teach our clients. It is as it should be.

  39. Pingback: Catholic Congressmen who support abortion – educated in Catholic schools - CATHOLIC FEAST - Sync your Soul

  40. MAJ Tony says:

    My first 2 1/2 years of education (78-80) were in a Catholic school, specifically Holy Name of Jesus, Henderson, KY (Dio. Owensboro, KY). As I had family that were habit-wearing Benedictines (older great aunt and cousins of my maternal grandmother) I found it unusual that most of the few nuns teaching didn’t wear anything resembling a habit (I think the principal did, sort of) and found it curious, even at a young age, that one of my teachers was a Seventh Day Adventist (whatever that meant to a second grader, I knew it wasn’t Catholic, and I sort of knew the difference). She obviously didn’t go into great detail on her religious beliefs, but young MAJ Tony still wondered why a Catholic school didn’t have all Catholic teachers, though I probably didn’t dwell on it much at the time. I don’t know that many of the students were non-Catholic, but the few times we had a school Mass, I don’t recall specifically anyone not attending. That was 30+ years ago, and Vat II was only in it’s 1st decade. I don’t recall anything particularly horrific (in the positive sense) in the context of school or Mass in the diocese in those days, but one could argue that in the negative sense, what was not done (lack of good Catholic catechesis, dumbed down liturgy, etc…) could be considered so. We’re certainly reaping the “benefits” of the experiment of the so-called “spirit of Vat II” run amok. Thank God for giving us Popes who’ve set the wheels in motion to give us the authentic expression of the council.

  41. St Donatus says:

    I have noticed that several comments say that you can force Catechize anyone. I don’t think that is the point. If teachers sign Bishop Vasa’s addendum, they can more easily be disciplined or removed if they don’t adhere to it. Also, most will at least try to adhere to it to keep their job.

    Another point is that Catholic Schools used to actually catechize children despite their parents. My parents went to church but that is as far as it went. We were left to learn to be Catholic on our own. In CCD I learned that being Catholic meant loving others. Nothing else really. Thirty years later it was the two years of being taught strict Catholic doctrine by Nuns that brought me back.

    The reason Catholic Schools don’t have very much effect on children today is their lack of strong Catholic teaching. I had to read the old Baltimore Catechism to learn Catholic beliefs in a short period. It was very effective.

    Does anyone know why the Baltimore Catechism has been scrapped when it was so very effect? Why didn’t they scrap the Bible while they were at it? I’m sure they could have done a better job than God.

  42. Bob B. says:

    Apparently the bishop is going to wait TWO years before implementing having teachers sign the agreement!


    Guess you can’t underestimate the forces of opposition.

  43. catholicmidwest says:

    St Donatus, you said, “I have noticed that several comments say that you can force Catechize anyone. I don’t think that is the point.”

    You might want to consult the students on that. I think each one of them has a decision to make along about their 16th year, and currently about 70% of them leave the Church right around that point. It seems that the end of CCD is Confirmation, which many of them are using as their leaving-the-Church ceremony.

    BTW, this percentage seems to be unrelated to whether they attend Catholic school (CCD etc) or not in the long run. Catholic schooling does not seem to have a statistically significant effect on adult religious behavior, and hasn’t had for a great many years.

  44. jhayes says:

    Bishop Vasa has withdrawn the Addendum to techer’s contracts.

    “In a letter Tuesday to pastors, Catholic school principals and “especially teachers,” Santa Rosa, Calif., Bishop Robert Vasa has temporarily withdrawn his requirement that they sign an addendum to their 2013-2014 contracts that would have required they agree they are “a ministerial agent of the bishop” and reject “modern errors” that “gravely offend human dignity,” including contraception, abortion, same-sex marriage and euthanasia.

    In the letter, Vasa:

    Wrote that his “most serious oversight … was my failure to engage and consult the pastors of the diocese and especially those who are the local shepherds of our Catholic schools”;

    Said his “degree of vigilance” in assuring “the greatest hope of finding the truths of Jesus in our Catholic schools” for students “can look like a lack of trust”; and

    Acknowledged “that I over looked proper engagement of the principals” and “erroneously chose a path of informing rather than mutual discernment.”

    Broad grass-roots reaction from parents, teachers, students and pastors had developed in the diocese following disclosure of the addendum, which had been inserted into the contracts as what Vasa and Catholic school superintendent John Collins described as an amplification and clarification of the standard faith and morals clause….

    In the two-page letter, Vasa said he still plans to implement “in some form” the “goals which we established for this year’s teacher contract” in the spring of 2015.


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