Bp Vasa To Catholic Teachers: Get On Board With Your Employer’s Mission.

Vasa(1)Bishop Vasa of the Diocese of Santa Rosa in northern California is requiring teachers in diocesan (Catholic) schools to sign a statement called “Bearing Witness” that they will live in accord with the principles of the Catholic Church. In other words, they are being asked to agree to the mission of their employer/school and not act in ways that controvert the mission.

I haven’t seen the statement, but the press coverage implies its authenticity.

When I worked at the Vatican, there was one morning when a Vatican employee had called into a radio show, identified himself as a Vatican employee, and then went on to talk about his relations with his live-in girlfriend. He didn’t use his name; so he wasn’t tracked down. But he certainly created a lot of buzz in Vatican offices. Everyone – even if they didn’t practice their faith much – knew that he’d violated one of the agreements of working at the Vatican. It’s like any business or organization, a certain amount of loyalty to the entity’s mission and identity is expected. When it comes to religious organizations, even more can be required.

Not every teacher at a Catholic school needs to be Catholic, but they do need to be able to interact with students in a way that upholds Catholic teachings. If they cannot do that in good conscience, then that teacher is not a good fit for a Catholic school.

Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI dedicated their pontificates to reaffirming and clarifying Catholic identity. It’s good to see the effects of their work locally. I’m sure Bishop Vasa would appreciate support. You might consider contacting him by email or post.


Categories:Church News Education

  • Steve Oslica

    When parents pay tuition to send their children to Catholic schools, the very least they should be able to expect is a firm Catholic formation which supports what these children are getting at home. If you expect “touchy feely self-esteemy find your own faith” stuff, there are plenty of other education options.

  • Mark

    LOVE LOVE LOVE MY BISHOP!!! ( on a side note Pia I live in Crescent City and attended St Joes) I have heard he requested the same thing when he was Bishop of Bend (Ore.). Got some bad press for it but did not care. I will be sure to email him later, but we need more bishops with his courage to have people be you know…Catholic.

    Greg it is not about punishment but doing his job in guiding his flock to live the Catholic faith. For Catholics to note could put their should in jepoardy and yes an employee of the Church should agree to live by and teach certain things.

  • William

    I see nothing wrong with only Catholics teaching at Catholic schools. I would hope that would be the case. Also, I would want my teachers to teach in conformity to Church teaching. If either of those criteria are not met, they should teach in a non-catholic school.

  • Mike Ryan

    Greg Smith:

    “In other words, they are being asked to agree to the mission of their employer/school and not act in ways that controvert the mission.”

    If you take religion out of the mix, employment is a trust and a gift from an entity to an individual.

    No one is being arm-twisted to work for a particular organization.

    The Church allows teachers who are non-Catholic, however they must agree to not compromise their “company’s product.”

    I don’t see anywhere in either Pia’s article or the cited Santa Rosa article that anyone was punished in any way.

    A ‘company’ pays those whom it wishes, only don’t compromise its integrity.

    I recall this concept as “industrial sabotage.” There’s not a company, corporation or organization that I am aware of which allows negativity and interior destructiveness to continue, if they wish to survive.

    In the human body, there’s something similar:

    it’s called “CANCER.”


    Dear Pia ~ This story makes me sad. Once more, a Church leader has decided to focus on punishment, sanctions and coercion rather than persuasion.

    To the Culture War Catholics who say they want a smaller more (ultra?) orthodox Church, I can only say “Be careful what you wish for.” Pax tecum, Greg

    • Antonio A. Badilla

      There is absolutely nothing wrong with a bishop expecting theology teachers to teach in the name of the Church.
      I’m a theology teacher and if I don’t want to teach what the Church teaches, I should be teaching math or history, not teaching in the name of the Church.
      What is sad is to find teachers objecting to what the bishop is asking of them. What are they hiding? Are they afraid of something? Are they not teaching in the name of the faith they claim to profess? I bet they are not and that’s why they play “victim” before the demands of the bishop. Hypocrites!

    • Ann

      Greg, in what way is this coercion, sanction or punishment? If they don’t support the mission they should not violate their conscience by working for organization. The statement is actually leading them to be honest; to live and work in accord with their conscience.

    • Mel

      Greg, how is it coercion to ask teachers to support the mission of the entity they work for? I am sure Coke would not want its employees to promote Pepsi? I can have the most talented teacher on staff, but if that teacher is openly against the mission of the Church, then what value is it to the children and their parents who are paying for a Catholic Education? Vasa is challenging his staff to uphold the values of the Church, that isn’t too big of a disconnect to ask for.

    • Michael Foley

      Greg I have a problem with your argument. How is this punishment or coercion? A teacher in a Catholic school has to be able to exhibit an ability to model Catholic behavior to his/her students in order to persuade them that those behaviors are indeed a worthwhile pursuit.
      It is no different than expecting a coach to teach and exhibit sportmanship,or a business manager
      ,partner in a law firm,…etc to exhibit ethical behavior to those under their tutelege.

  • Paul Sadek

    What a concept! My daughter, some years back had a Catholic high school comparative religion studies teacher who told me that the class was to “help the kids find a faith that fits their beliefs.” Seems that teaching comparative religion from a Catholic perspective had never crossed their minds!

    • ron morrison

      Really, isn’t it best to provide students with a wide perspective of religious concepts so that they can choose what they feel is best for them? Should we offer any student just one choice?

      • Ann

        Catholic schools and Catholic parents should be offering one choice because there is only one God; there is only one truth. This isn’t about feelings, this is about salvation of souls.

      • Beth

        We as PARENTS make the choice for our CHILDREN when we put them in a Catholic school expecting a Catholic education. They can explore other religious concepts after they are well grounded in their Catholic faith and out on their own paying their own way.

      • Jim

        Ron –
        Perhaps so, but you won’t find a teacher at a Baptist school teaching Catholic theology, and vice versa, which is as it should be. I believe in teaching children about other religions, but the emphasis should be on Catholic theology.

      • Michael Foley

        Not really Ron. We are talking about Catholic schools after all. It is their mission to teach Catholic principles.
        When I attended Catholic schools we were taught quite a bit about other religions,especially in the context of their historical contributions to world and in particular American history.
        There are other private schools which a parent can choose if the want a “broad view”.

      • Bob

        Is there more than one Christ? Is there more than one Church that was founded by Christ?

        It is only by the grace of God and the sacrifice of Christ that we are given salvation. And the fullness of the knowledge of Christ is in the Church which he founded over 2000 years ago.

        If we already have a knowledge of the truth, why would we not share that truth with our children, rather than casting them out on their own and hoping that they find the truth for themselves?

        That is not to say that we shouldn’t teach about other religious concepts, but we certainly should not teach that they are all equally valid or equally salvific and tell a student that they should pick what works for them.



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