Hawaii Catholic Schools Add Tougher Morality Clause to Teacher Contracts

Catholics schools in Hawaii have revised the contract for teachers, adding an an amplified morality clause that explicitly names offenses for which teachers can be fired, including homosexual activity . This announcement comes a little over a week after the Cincinnati Archdiocese announced similar changes in their contract for Catholic school teachers.

According to the Civil Beatthe new contract affects educators at three dozen parochial schools and includes prohibitions against “homosexual activity” and “same sex unions,” along with several other selectively enforced teachings relating to sexuality. Notably, “unmarried cohabitation” is included. Civil Beat reports further:

” ‘The school expressly reserves the right to terminate the employment of any Teacher, who by word or example, denies the teachings or authority of the Church, or whose personal life or conduct is, based on Catholic teaching, immoral,’ says a portion of the contract..

“Schools have not yet distributed the contracts to teachers, but the documents will apply to all teachers working in parochial schools operated by the Diocese of Honolulu, which covers the entire state. A few private Catholic schools are not parochial schools.”

Both full- and part-time educators will need to sign this new contract annually, beginning next year. Except for a handful of religious-order run schools, the contract will affect every Catholic school in the state. Dioocese of Honolulu Schools’ Superintendent Michael Rockers claimed there was nothing new in the contracts and attempted to tie teachers to ministry, which has been a common tactic to defend discriminatory firings as a matter of religious liberty.

Most troubling are additional comments by Rockers, noted by Civil Beat:

“[Rockers] said the ultimate goal is to provide positive role models for students and that if a teacher’s homosexuality were made public it would negatively affect the children.

” ‘We want to be authentic about what our moral teaching is,’ he said. ‘We’re trying to be pastoral about this and centered on what’s best for the students.’ “

Bishop Larry Silva

Bishop Larry Silva

While the diocesan schools’ office denies this new contract is a reaction to the state’s passage of marriage equality last November, it is hard to see it as anything but a reaction to advancing LGBT equality. It is part of an increasingly punitive reaction by anti-LGBT Catholic leaders who, recognizing they have lost the civil rights struggle, are trying to punish those who are LGBT or their allies. There have been instances of a Virginia priest withholding funds raised by the Boy Scout troop he expelled from their parish, and a British bishop who recently raised the issue of denying Communion to legislators who voted for marriage equality.

Closer to Hawaii, Bishop Larry Silva is on record linking marriage equality to incest, polygamy, and juvenile suicide, as well as defending ‘just discrimination.’  It is not surprising that he would follow the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s decision to add an enhanced morality clause targeting homosexuality and same-gender marriage. Cincinnati’s Catholic schools proposed novel ideas, legally speaking, by more closely tying teachers to ministerial roles,  and adding ‘public support’ of any banned activities as a reason for termination.

In that first instance, I voiced my hope that it would not be adapted by other dioceses and that fairer minds would prevail. It appears Silva will instead continue harming LGBT equality Catholic education, and the Hawaii Church, instead of following Pope Francis’ lead of strengthening communities and welcoming all. If these selectively-targeted morality clauses spread, Catholic schools must be ready to sacrifice talented faculty, committed families, and the wide support from the majority of Catholics supportive of LGBT justice.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

0 replies
  1. David Martin
    David Martin says:

    Such continued Catholic actions will continue to empty the pews leaving submissive, non-questioning congregants. It is not a matter of picking & choosing which teachings to adhere to by the faithful. Accepting, non-judgmental stances are the Way of Christ.

  2. Friends
    Friends says:

    Question: how many younger adult Catholics (i.e., those now in their ’20s and ’30s), which is the cohort of parents who will have their children in Catholic schools during the next couple of decades, will personally support such an attitude of ignorant and hateful bigotry? Younger Catholics across the board DO NOT ACCEPT these bishops’ “Pontifications” on issues like rational non-abortive medical birth control, or same-sex civil unions and judicial marriage. These retrograde bishops are setting themselves up to be completely ignored by the cohort of younger practicing Catholics — and also setting up their schools to experience a drastic reduction of student enrollment which will make them economically non-viable and non-sustainable. Let’s hope “The Francis Effect” really grabs and holds — certainly through his future episcopal appointments, but also through his unprecedented personal outpouring of pastoral healing and understanding.

    • Teacher extraordinaire
      Teacher extraordinaire says:

      How is this suddenly ignorant and hateful bigotry? We have lived under these values for centuries. I taught in two Dioceses – One actually had a contract with a clause on the back that require its teachers act in a manner consistent with the teachings of the church and if it was found that we did anything contrary to those teachings, we could be terminated. Shocking! Like sleeping around outside marriage, like having children outside marriage, like having homosexual sex…You see the Bible and the Church never said that you can’t be gay…it says you can’t act upon it…you can be attracted to other of the same sex, but you cannot live that lifestyle without committing sin. You should be fired for that…54 and single

  3. Erasumus
    Erasumus says:

    This is arcane! Yes, indeed, the Church has the right to do as it sees fit but should it? No. Where is Jesus in any of this? Go ahead, try to make a direct link between the teaching of Christ and this morality clause. Over and over again, Jesus repudiates rules that bind us to narrow mindedness. (Think of Healing the Blind Man – Week #4 of Lent).

    Rigid belief in the Book of Leviticus ought to make us all hate meat, use of leather and oppose ‘man lying with a man. Please note, lesbianism gets a green light though.

    I wonder if the priests get to sign such an agreement.

    I love this Church – it’s part of me -watching us cannibalize ourselves saddens me.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] same-gender marriage is not mentioned in the news story, when the dioceses of Cincinnati, Honolulu, Cleveland, and Oakland instituted new contracts, being part of a legally married lesbian or gay […]

  2. […] in Cincinnati over the contract and others have begun organizing. The archdiocese, as well as Honolulu, Cleveland, and Oakland, should follow Notre Dame’s lead and make their education policy: If […]

  3. […] Diocese of Honolulu, Hawaii, has recently instituted a similar policy to that of […]

  4. […] by the recent developments, particularly those in the diocese of Honolulu and the archdiocese of Cincinnati, where bishops have made orthodoxy pledges which explicitly […]

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