A bright note! Bp. Vasa confirms morals and faith clauses for Catholic teachers

It seems as if the Catholic world in these USA is beset from without and within right now and that the lion is truly on the rampage.  At least that’s how I have felt for the last few days.  Flying apart at the seams.

So, I was pleased to read this at the Cardinal Newman Society (check out their spiffy widget on my side bar for great coverage of Catholic education):

Santa Rosa Diocese: Teacher Contract Update Affirming Catholic Teaching Will Happen

The Santa Rosa Diocese’s contract addendum by which teachers at Catholic schools will affirm their acceptance of Catholic teaching is reportedly still on track for implementation.“There is no intention not to do this [and] it will happen at some point,” said the communications director for the Santa Rosa diocese, Brian O’Neel, according to Petaluma 360.
Last year, diocesan Bishop Robert Vasa announced plans to have all parochial elementary and high school teachers within the diocese sign an agreement in their revised contracts to “bear witness” and affirm Church teaching. The moral addendum will reportedly include acknowledgement that contraception, abortion, homosexual marriage, and euthanasia are “modern errors” and grave offenses to human dignity.


Read the rest there.

I had a chance to meet and speak with Bp. Vasa during the recent Napa Conference. He is squared away.

Fr. Z kudos.  Bravo.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. acricketchirps says:

    Stuck in the mod’ration queue,
    And I’m wonderin’ just what I can do;
    I’m so scared in case I change my way,
    Before my comment sees the light of day;
    Clowns queued in front of me,
    Jokers queued behind, here I am–
    Stuck in the mod’ration queue.

    (sorry, Fr. and Gerry Rafferty)

    [That should win you some friends here.]

  2. Tamquam says:

    These kinds of agreements are a start. In my experience at my parish, which has a similar sort of agreement, there are two problems. 1. The instructors themselves have an incorrect understanding of the Faith because their own formation was defective. These people sincerely intend to convey the true faith but are unaware of their own deficiencies. 2. There is no one in authority to oversee and enforce compliance with the policy. Your humble (if only!) correspondent can and has attempted to remedy this distortion by charitably (I hope) attempting to correct the teachers themselves and by bringing the deficiencies to the attention of the Pastor. The first results in “You’re wrong, this is what was taught at Catechist training.” The second results in “I’ll look in to it. Meanwhile keep on doing what you’re doing.” He’s just happy that he has a live body certified by the diocese willing to show up and help with his program.

  3. wmeyer says:

    In my view, proper catechesis is perhaps the single most desperate need in the Church in America today. Tamquam, in any parish, the buck stops with the pastor. So there is someone to oversee. As to the right/wrong of teaching, the proper recourse would be to cite the CCC. So before approaching the pastor, I would bring the CCC along, and to be prepared to admit I had checked my own possibly incorrect understanding there before approaching him.

    If you make the attempt, in charity, and each time well prepared, and still see no improvement, then perhaps a letter to your bishop. Fr. Z has presented a guide in the past as to how such pleas should be presented.

  4. LeeF says:

    These kind of agreements are indeed a good start, but as Tamquam mentions, hard to enforce. They really are kind of a backup net to remove instructors caught in personal moral practices contrary to the faith. When it comes to the content of instruction, even if they don’t actually explicitly teach contrary to the faith, it is very easy to just use the tactic of omission and lack of emphasis which is used by so many priests in their homilies. Not teaching the fullness of the Faith and appropriately emphasizing the most important parts is the real problem, and far harder to enforce without a willingness to actively monitor these instructors.

  5. LeeF says:

    A further comment is that although it is of course commendable that His Excellency and some of his fellows implement these type of agreements, they mostly seem to be the odd bishop out in their regions. I would like to see them aggressively push the issue at NCCB conferences in proposing a model agreement to be implemented everywhere.

  6. Chon says:

    Preparing references for Ph.D. students used to be my job. This was at a secular university. Some of these non-believing students applied to be professors at Christian colleges (it’s hard to get hired as a professor). I know of at least one of them who signed a “Statement of Faith” he did not believe in, just to get a job. I would not be surprised to learn some K-12 teachers in some Catholic schools do the same. (Many of these teachers are not Catholic, as most people know). I hope the day will come when teachers at Catholic schools are investigated before they are hired (lifestyle, theology, etc. Why not give them a paper and pencil test of Catholic beliefs?). However, what Bishop Vasa is doing is a good step forward. Bishop Vasa is always a bright spot. This may attract some orthodox Catholic teachers who have preferred to dig ditches rather than teach in the current theological and moral chaos of many Catholic schools.

  7. Chon says:

    LeeF, good points. I would like to add that it would take a full time observer per classroom to monitor these teachers effectively.

  8. Sonshine135 says:

    Praying that Bishop Jugis in the Charlotte Diocese does the same.

  9. Former Altar Boy says:

    Bishop Vasa is definitely squared away and a great shepherd to his priests as well as the laity. When he was in Oregon and his priests at a one-priest parish go on vacation, Bishop Vasa was their replacement. Don’t know if he has any of those kind of parishes in California but you can tell he takes the job seriously.

  10. Bob B. says:

    Chon: I suggested this as a school oath years ago and the terror in some people’s eyes was revealing, so when I suggested an exit test in religion for 8th graders, you would have thought the sky was falling. Of course, the suggestions went no where.
    There are a number of non-Catholics running things (how about a Baptist vice principal who hates Catholics or a principal who graduated from a Catholic college who told teachers their classrooms were too Catholic looking and not to spend so much time at the Church – it was a Jesuit college, you see) and teaching. How about a pro-abortion state representative who was on a Catholic school board? Or the diocesan board where only certain teachers can advance and are protected from failure. Obviously, the problem pervades the Catholic school systems.
    As for the bishop, considering he has a political operative on one of his boards who works for a pro-abortion, SSM legislator, you can just guess how much he must care about schools.
    Just imagine the CINO teachers who end up in Catholic schools because the bishops aren’t doing their jobs – the cycle will never end until this happens, too.

  11. Ben Kenobi says:

    Wow. Kudos to Bishop Vasa. This policy will bear considerable fruit. I had to sign a morals contract myself and yes, it’s enforced here. Very pleased to see this from Bp Vasa. Thank you Fr Z.

  12. everett says:

    Please continue to keep us here in the Diocese of Santa Rosa in your prayers. The reason the contract clause was originally delayed was after there was a giant fuss made by teachers in Catholic schools, and the support that Bp. Vasa thought he had evaporated in the face of said fuss.

    Bp. Vasa has definitely been as pastoral as possible in the best sense of the world, seeking to catechize and evangelize with the goal of winning hearts and minds over to this, but he faces a difficult road, after years of dissent being tolerated in the schools of the diocese. The Faith & Life series has been mandated in grades K-8 across the diocese, and he has been working toward getting catechists certified in accordance with USCCB standard for catechist certification.

  13. Tamquam says:

    wmeyer: The CCC is not the issue, he knows it backwards and forwards. He is just more interested in having a working program. He did fire the previous Confirmation director/Youth minister for not adhering to a fairly rigorous catechism based syllabus. New one is VERY young, bright eyed, bushy tailed and wet behind the ears. She does adhere to the pastor’s program, at least. My long term solution, as I envision it, is to get the master catechist certificate and take over the job. We’ll see. Last year the diocese never got around to promulgating the diocesan training schedule, at least to me.

    The prayers rise, the LORD listens and acts in His good time. Blessed be the Name of the LORD.

  14. Chon says:

    The solution to all this, of course, (in addition to Tamquam getting a certificate), is to pray pray pray for a great multiplication of the new orthodox order(s) of teaching sisters.

  15. Supertradmum says:

    One reason I took the NAPCIS teacher’s course and only taught in NAPCIS schools was because this organization encourages and posts the oath and promise for teachers to take in schools. I wrote a version for Holy Rosary School in Anchorage for our protestant teachers. I do not know if they still use it.

    All, absolutely, all Catholic schools, colleges and universities should make teachers do this. St. John Paul II wanted colleges and universities to do so and most ignored him.

    Here are the original texts. and God bless this good bishop.

    Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

    As conforming to Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio Ad Tuendam Fidem, this Profession of Faith and Oath of Fidelity supercedes the Profession and Oath of 1989.


    I, N., with firm faith believe and profess everything that is contained in the Symbol of faith: namely:

    I believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen. I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten not made, one in Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation, he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

    With firm faith, I also believe everything contained in the Word of God, whether written or handed down in Tradition, which the Church, either by a solemn judgement or by the ordinary and universal Magisterium, sets forth to be believed as divinely revealed.

    I also firmly accept and hold each and everything definitively proposed by the Church regarding teaching on faith and morals.

    Moreover, I adhere with religious submission of will and intellect to the teachings which either the Roman pontiff or the College of Bishops enunciate when they exercise their authentic Magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim these teachings by a definitive act.


    (Formula to be used by the Christian faithful mentioned in Canon 833, nn. 5-8)

    I, N., in assuming the office of __________, promise that in my words and in my actions I shall always preserve communion with the Catholic Church.

    With great care and fidelity I shall carry out the duties incumbent on me toward the Church, both universal and particular, in which, according to the provisions of the law, I have been called to exercise my service.

    In fulfilling the charge entrusted to me in the name of the Church, I shall hold fast to the deposit of faith in its entirety; I shall faithfully hand it on and explain it, and I shall avoid any teachings contrary to it.

    I shall follow and foster the common discipline of the entire Church and I shall maintain the observance of all ecclesiastical laws, especially those contained in the Code of Canon Law.

    With Christian obedience I shall follow what the Bishops, as authentic doctors and teachers of the faith, declare, or what they, as those who govern the Church, establish.

    I shall also faithfully assist the diocesan Bishops, so that the apostolic activity, exercised in the name and by mandate of the Church, may be carried out in communion with the Church.

    So help me God, and God’s Holy Gospels on which I place my hand.

    I shall foster the common discipline of the entire Church and I shall insist on the observance of all ecclesiastical laws, especially those contained in the Code of Canon Law.

    With Christian obedience I shall follow what the Bishops, as authentic doctors and teachers of the faith, declare, or what they, as those who govern the Church, establish. I shall also — with due regard for the character and purpose of my institute — faithfully assist the diocesan Bishops, so that the apostolic activity, exercised in the name and by mandate of the Church, may be carried out in communion with the Church.

    NOTE: Canon 833, Nos. 5-8 obliges the following to make the profession of faith: vicars general, episcopal vicars and judicial vicars; “at the beginning of their term of office, pastors, the rector of a seminary and the professors of theology and philosophy in seminaries; those to be promoted to the diaconate”; “the rectors of an ecclesiastical or Catholic university at the beginning of the rector’s term of office”; and, “at the beginning of their term of office, teachers in any universities whatsoever who teach disciplines which deal with faith or morals”; and “superiors in clerical religious institutes and societies of apostolic life in accord with the norm of the constitutions.”
    Taken from:
    L’Osservatore Romano
    Weekly Edition in English
    15 July 1998, page 3

  16. gracie says:

    The focus is on sexual ethics but the rot of ignorance pervades all aspects of Catholic teaching.

    A couple of years ago I was explaining the Sacrament of Baptism to 3rd graders and said that when we are baptized we become adopted children of God. This aspect of the Sacrament has been taught forever and yet I got dragged on the carpet because a parent complained that I used the word “adopted”. Apparently, her child is adopted and he was upset that I had distinguished between our adoption and Christ’s “natural” Sonship to God. He felt that I was saying adopted children are inferior to biologically born children because Jesus is God and we’re not. It was nuts; but instead of the Director straightening our the mother she told me to stop using the word “adoption” when talking about the Baptism. It didn’t matter to her that this is in the Catechism and has been said since the beginning of the Church. She agreed that that was so BUT said it would be better if I didn’t use such language.

    The second run-in with her came when a parent called to complain that I had told the students, in an explanation of the First Commandment, that they should not take astrology seriously – in other words, they shouldn’t look to the stars/palm reading/tarot cards/ouija boards, etc. to know what the future is. It turned out one of the mothers was into astrology and got offended at what I said. Again, the Director said not to mention such things – even though, again, I pointed out that it was in the CCC. I left the program at the end of the year and am now teaching at a neighboring one.

    The point I’m making is that the ignorance of the Catholic faith runs throughout every aspect of it – not just the sexual bits. Are there any parishes out there that are addressing the need to catechize the parents?

  17. Bob B. says:

    I’ve had similar experiences, but what is worse is having a principal not knowing some of these things. Astrology was also one of those things I encountered, but after explaining how the stars are nowhere today where they were centuries ago, the kids got it. I never did tell them why the enneagram was taught by some religious sisters as part of the diocesan teachers’ recertification program for religion, though – not even the bishop answered me when I wrote him.

  18. Rachel says:

    I just visited the cathedral of Santa Rosa on a trip up north, and that place seems to get cooler every time I go. I went to a Sunday morning novus ordo Mass and spotted more veils than ever, including on the mantilla-clad schola that did some beautiful chants. Heard a good homily on the exaltation of the Holy Cross, and then after Mass I had the Knights of Columbus breakfast, then bought a 1962 Missal in the cathedral bookstore (the woman there smiled and said she had one too), and then chatted with a girl who says she’s about to join the Marian Sisters of Santa Rosa, a new order that has Mass in both forms and is in the diocese at Bishop Vasa’s invitation. And then a time of prayer in the beautiful perpetual adoration chapel. I’m saying a prayer for the bishop as he faces whatever opposition arises.

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