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Catholic schools exist to ‘affirm and proclaim’ Gospel of Jesus

February 6, 2015
Valerie Schmalz

The Archdiocese of San Francisco is proposing three new clauses to the contracts for the teachers in the archdiocesan Catholic high schools. The purpose is to further clarify that Catholic schools – as the first clause states – “exist to affirm and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ as held and taught by his Catholic Church.”

The archdiocese is also adding detailed statements of Catholic teaching on sexual morality and religious practice – taken from the Catechism of the Catholic Church – into the faculty and staff handbooks of the four archdiocesan high schools, Archbishop Riordan, Marin Catholic and Junipero Serra High Schools and Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory. The handbook additions will take effect in the 2015-16 school year and are not part of the contract. About 315 teachers at the four schools belong to the faculty union. Nearly 500 people are employed at the four high schools.

The handbook and contract changes do not contain anything essentially new. Rather, they are intended to clarify existing expectations that Catholic teachers in their professional and public lives uphold Catholic teaching, archdiocesan Catholic schools Superintendent Maureen Huntington said.

“Because we live in a very secular society, the truth as revealed by God gets overshadowed by popular ideology,” Huntington said. “In order to remain faithful to God’s revelations and the church’s teachings, additions and clarifying statements have been developed for our teachers and staff members articulating specific fundamental truths, which are not understood or accepted within our secular society.”

The intent is not to drive any teacher out of a job, Huntington and San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone said.

“At the outset, I wish to state clearly and emphatically that the intention underlying this document is not to target for dismissal from our schools any teachers, singly or collectively, nor does it introduce anything essentially new into the contract or the faculty handbook,” Archbishop Cordileone wrote in a February letter to the teachers.

Archbishop Cordileone was to address the high school teachers of the archdiocese Feb. 6 on the topic of “Catholic education during the time of Pope Francis.” Faculty from the 14 Catholic high schools in the archdiocese, including the 10 owned by religious communities as well as teachers at the archdiocesan high schools, were expected to attend Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral and a subsequent talk.

The union negotiating team was scheduled to present the proposed contract to the full membership by this week, said Lisa Dole, president of the teachers’ union.

“We are pleased that the document acknowledges that the teachers in our high school are not all the same – like many Catholics around the world who struggle with their adherence to some of the teachings of the church,” Dole said late Tuesday in a statement for Catholic San Francisco on behalf of the union executive board.

“There are still concerns with the proposed language and some key issues that the union and archbishop are hopeful that we will be able to work out,” Dole said.

 

A special “Affirm and Proclaim” pullout section in this issue features an expanded version of this story, along with the full text of the archbishop’s letter to the teachers, the changes to the faculty handbook and other information about the archdiocesan initiative.

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