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FutureChurch calls on bishops to hold open consultations immediately with parents, teachers and other stakeholders in Catholic schools in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Honolulu where severe new teacher contracts are being implemented
Release date: 
Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Release date:  May 28, 2014
Contact: Deborah Rose-Milavec, Executive Director
Office:  216.228.0869 x4    Cell:  513.673.1401

FutureChurch calls on bishops to hold open consultations immediately with parents, teachers and other stakeholders in Catholic schools in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Honolulu where severe new teacher contracts are being implemented

For more than twenty-three years, FutureChurch has advocated for justice for church workers and the full participation of all the baptized in the life and leadership of the Church.  We love our Church, value our Catholic schools and support the teachers who often make tremendous sacrifices in order to teach children from our communities.

FutureChurch believes the spirit of the new teacher contracts in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Honolulu is out of step with the pastoral tone and teaching of Pope Francis.

When Pope Francis was asked in a September 30, 2013 interview[1] what the church most needs today, he replied, “I see clearly that the thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity . . . .”

While all three teacher contracts include long lists of high stakes moral infractions accompanied by the threat of employment termination, Pope Francis reminds us, “The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules . . . We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods . . . .”
 
While all three teacher contracts fixate on a very narrow body of Catholic doctrine and teaching surrounding matters of sexuality, Pope Francis reminds us, “The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently.”

While all three teacher contracts favor a strict moral code that selectively targets certain kinds of behavior, Pope Francis reminds us, “We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.”
 
FutureChurch believes the bishops and other diocesan and school officials who authored these new teacher contracts need to find the new balance that Pope Francis envisions.  We call on each of them to meet as soon as possible with teachers, parents and supporters of Catholic schools in their dioceses with a willingness to enter into discussions about the purpose, content and scope of the new teacher contracts.  This includes discussing the changes in status from  “teacher” to “teacher-minister,” a shift that could imperil teachers' right to organize for better wages and working conditions or to bring civil suits when they believe their employers have treated them inappropriately.   
 
With Pope Francis as our moral guide, we hold up his words, “The people of God want pastors, not clergy acting like bureaucrats or government officials . . . the proclamation of the saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives. Today sometimes it seems that the opposite order is prevailing.”
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[1]  “A Big Heart Open to God,” Antonio Spadaro, S.J., America (September 13, 2013) at http://www.americamagazine.org/pope-interview

 

About FutureChurch Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, FutureChurch seeks changes that will provide all Roman Catholics the opportunity to participate fully in Church life and leadership. It is a national coalition parish centered Catholics striving to educate fellow Catholics about the seriousness of the priest shortage, the centrality of the Eucharist (the Mass), and the systemic inequality of women in the Catholic Church. FutureChurch is a nonprofit organization that makes presentations throughout the country, distributes education, advocacy and prayer resources and recruits activists who work on behalf of its mission.