Cleveland Catholics speak out against “morality clauses”
As the school year comes to a close, many teachers are finding new language in their contracts. The Cleveland diocese recently directed all of its 104 elementary schools to use a contract with a very specific, bullet pointed, “morality clause.” The story broke when The Plain Dealer made a copy of the contract public and word is spreading around the community. Letters to officials and the local papers are starting the debate, and now a petition is in the works.
Bob, an organizer with a local Church reform group, emailed details of the contract and the addresses of Church officials to his friends, urging them to send letters. “These added pages make [teachers] no more accountable. But they are intimidating and disingenuous.” he said of the contract, “The four additional pages seem to be focused solely sexual matters (again) instead of offering a balanced and more comprehensive statement that includes peace, justice, option for the poor, the environment, stewardship of the Earth, and countless other moral concerns raised by Francis I over the past year.”
Others have written letters to the editor, hoping to spread the word and start a debate about an issue many feel is taboo. “Teachers have already received contracts to review. They are wondering whether they will be fired for things they may have done that have nothing to do with their performance in the classroom.” Writes Julia, an Equally Blessed supporter, in a letter published in the Akron Beacon Journal, “The diocese has redefined the role of the educator and taken priority away from professional skills. Teachers have been reclassified as ‘teacher-ministers,’ limiting their ability to organize and form associations or unions.”
The contracts threaten teachers with the loss of their job for private decisions like using contraception, remarrying after divorce, supporting gay rights, or becoming pregnant using fertility treatments. These are not decisions that impact a teacher’s ability to do his or her job. “Bishop Lennon, remove this clause and allow teachers to focus on the work they are doing to educate our children. An employer has no right to fire someone for actions unrelated to their ability to perform their job” read a letter, we couldn’t agree more!