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Bishop Robert Vasa of Santa Rosa, California, has done the unthinkable—nay, he has gone beyond outrageous, to a place so foreign and radical, many Catholics in his diocese are going apoplectic and having complete meltdowns (with low-fat lattes in hand, I presume). Prepare to be shocked:

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.

Who does he think he is? Their employer? Their bishop? Um, yeah, he is both, in fact. But, of course, some of the teachers would rather not walk the talk and be adults about the reasonable requirement:

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. ...

The teacher, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of repercussions, said he has not made a final decision whether or not to sign the document.

"On my high moral days, I feel I absolutely won't sign," the teacher said. "And on my days that I think about my job, I think who will it affect if I don't sign it."

The teacher said he objects to the "whole idea that they want me to live their morals when it's my personal life what I do outside of work."

Even more depressing are the vast majority of the nearly 90 comments (as of this posting), many of which raise the question: "Were you educated in a Catholic school? Can you spell 'Catholic'?" And, "If your conscience tells you that 2+2 = 5, do I have to affirm how wonderful of a teacher you think you are?" Here are a couple of the more ridiculous comments:

Coercion of any kind is wrong. You can't say "well we aren't firing them if they choose not to sign..." That's like a armed robber saying "I didn't shoot you, you shot you by not handing over your money when I asked so very nicely the first time." I believe in God and I was raised a Catholic, but more and more I have to put my faith in what my heart believes instead of what a single man such as this one demands I believe. Shameful.

Oh my! My heart goes out to all these teachers. To force them to sign this document (and it is force) is despicable! These teachers have families, obligations, homes, etc. Wouldn't it be amazing if all the teachers refused to sign? How would this bishop run the schools without all these dedicated teachers. This is positively disgusting of this Bishop to demand this.

I suggest teachers who are opposed to this look for jobs at less discriminatory schools. For those that can't find work elsewhere, they should sign it and then be as immoral as possible in protest of this terrible agreement.

Yes: be immoral in order to show you own the moral high ground. Brilliant. Meanwhile, here is some of what the offending addendum states:

Titled "Bearing Witness," the addendum asks teachers to "acknowledge" or "recognize" that:

They are called to a "life of holiness" and that "this call is the more compelling for me since I have been entrusted, in my vocation as a teacher/administrator in a Catholic school, with the formation of souls."

As a teacher in the Santa Rosa Diocese, "I am, by that fact, also a ministerial agent of the Bishop who is the chief 'teacher' of the Diocese."

It also requires all teachers to "agree that it is my duty, to the best of my ability, to believe, teach/administer and live in accord with what the Catholic Church holds and professes.

"I am especially cognizant of the fact that modern errors -- including but not limited to matters that gravely offend human dignity and the common good such as contraception, abortion, homosexual 'marriage' and euthanasia -- while broadly accepted in society, are not consistent with the clear teachings of the Catholic Church."

Read more here. Prepare to laugh, to cry, and to say a prayer for Bishop Vasa. 

 
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Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight.
 
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