California diocese requires teachers to sign agreement on “modern errors”

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The Santa Rosa Catholic Diocese is requiring its 200 schoolteachers to sign an agreement affirming that “modern errors” such as contraception, abortion, homosexual marriage and euthanasia are “matters that gravely offend human dignity.”

The move is an effort by Bishop Robert Vasa to delineate specifically what it means for a Catholic-school teacher — whether Catholic or not — to be a “model of Catholic living” and to adhere to Catholic teaching.

That means means abiding by the Ten Commandments, going to church every Sunday and heeding God’s words in thought, deed and intentions, according to a private church document that is an “addendum” to language in the current teachers’ contract.

In his two years as Santa Rosa’s bishop, Vasa has attempted to bring his strict interpretation of church doctrine to a diocese that historically has had a more tolerant approach.

But some teachers fear the addendum is an invasion of their private lives and a move toward imposing more rigid Catholic doctrine.

“Personally, it’s probably something that I can’t sign,” said a teacher at Cardinal Newman High School in Santa Rosa.

John Collins, the diocese superintendent, said the contract language is not an effort to drive certain teachers away or “provoke” them. He said about 25 percent of the teachers are non-Catholic.

“People are being invited to grow in an understanding and appreciation and embrace of the Catholic faith,” he said.

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