Cincinnati Catholic Teacher Contract Specifies ’Lifestyle’ Firing Offenses
CINCINNATI - The doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church is so complex the Archdiocese of Cincinnati is giving teachers a cheat sheet on some of the things that can get them fired.
A new contract proposal from the diocese specifies some violations of Catholic doctrine that could put teachers out of a job - including abortion, artificial insemination and "homosexual lifestyles" - and extends forbidden behavior to include public support for those kinds of causes, drawing some complaints that the language is overly broad and a cynical attempt to make it harder for wrongfully terminated teachers to sue.
Teachers have long been required to act in accordance with the Roman Catholic Church’s philosophy but it’s rare for an archdiocese to include examples of forbidden behavior in its contract. The archdiocese says it’s fairer to teachers this way.
"It clarifies what is expected of all of our teachers," archdiocese spokesman Dan Andriacco said.
The new language comes after a series of lawsuits and other problems involving educators fired over alleged doctrinal violations in the archdiocese.
Last year, a federal jury found the archdiocese discriminated against a Cincinnati-area teacher fired for violating Catholic doctrine when she became pregnant through artificial insemination and awarded her $171,000.
The teacher said she didn’t know artificial insemination violated doctrine. Terms weren’t disclosed in last year’s settlement of another lawsuit against the archdiocese by an unmarried Dayton-area teacher who said she was fired after becoming pregnant.
Catholic schools in California, Pennsylvania, Montana and other states have faced lawsuits or parent complaints in recent years over firings stemming from doctrinal violations, but the National Association of Catholic School Teachers said it knows of no other archdiocese that has instituted the kind of language planned in Cincinnati.
Andriacco said the contract doesn’t require anything the archdiocese didn’t already expect of teachers.
"The contract requires that if you are going to represent the Catholic church as a teacher, you are not going to publicly oppose the teachings of the Catholic church," he said.
Besides citing a broad range of prohibited activities including use of a surrogate mother and sexual activity outside of marriage, the contract specifically bans "improper" use of social media. Teachers would also be barred from "public membership" in organizations with missions conflicting with church doctrine.
The president of the Philadelphia-based National Association of Catholic School Teachers says some educators in the archdiocese have contacted the union with contract concerns, even though the union doesn’t represent them.