New “Morals” Clauses in Catholic Contracts – Now You Can Be Fired for Supporting Your Friends

“Mike Moroski is a former English teacher who lost his job at Purcell Marian High School after posting his support of same-sex marriage on his blog.”  For more:  Archdiocese of Cincinnati Expands Moral Clause in Teacher Contracts  In the wake of the firing of an openly gay vice principal at Eastside Catholic in Washington State, bishops are clarifying terms under which employees can be dismissed.  This week, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported that the following “morals” clause now appears in teacher contracts: 4. Teacher-Minister agrees, without limitation, to comply with all policies, handbooks, rules, and regulations of the School and of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.  Teacher-Minister also agrees to exemplify Catholic principles and to refrain from any conduct or lifestyle which would reflect discredit on or cause scandal to the School or be in contradiction to Catholic doctrine or morals.  Such conduct or lifestyle that is in contradiction to Catholic doctrine or morals includes, but is not limited to, improper use of social media/communication, public support of or publicly living together outside marriage, public support of or sexual activity out of wedlock, public support of or homosexual lifestyle, public support of or use of abortion, public support of or use of a surrogate mother, public support of or use of in vitro fertilization or artificial insemination, public membership in organizations whose mission and message are incompatible with Catholic doctrine or morals, and/or flagrant deceit or dishonesty.  Teacher-Minister further agrees to teach and act consistently in accordance with the mission statement of the School and to strive to aid in the formation of student by personal witness to the stated philosophy and teachings of the Roman Catholic Church (these can be found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church http://vatican/va/archive/ENG0015/_INDEXHTM). My husband and I share our home with a practicing Catholic.  It’s pretty public.  All the neighbors know we live together.  According to the terms of this contract, this co-housing arrangement would be disallowed.  Today, our roommate is cooking several pot roasts for a dinner that will be served to homeless people here in Seattle.  (As I write this, it’s raining miserably, so I’m glad people will get a hot meal.) It’s a good thing our roommate doesn’t work for a Catholic institution or we’d have to insist that she move out to protect her job. I also hope she doesn’t consider trying to get a job in a Catholic hospital/health system here in Washington, because the “ministerial exception” that allows Catholic institutions to insist on contracts that pry into people’s personal lives are completely legal.  It’s all about religious liberty, and the fact that you and I fund these institutions (in a recent interview, the CEO of $13.3 billion CHE-Trinity Health estimated that 60-65% of funds come from government payers) doesn’t give us any legal rights to insist they’re run fairly and compassionately. Under Hosanna-Tabor, the Supreme Court decision that gave religious institutions the right to hire and fire “ministers” at will, you don’t even need a contract clause like the one above to fire someone for violating Catholic doctrine.  So the Archdiocese of Cincinnati was really just being helpful in spelling it all out anyway. BTW, like many people here in Washington, we have gay friends who are busy raising children.  I hope no one limits our roommate’s employment options, especially in the healthcare industry here in Washington State, by posting photos that show her looking too friendly with them.

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9 thoughts on “New “Morals” Clauses in Catholic Contracts – Now You Can Be Fired for Supporting Your Friends

  1. Karl

    Is there a point you are making about the actual situation in Bellingham or in Washington State? Are you implying we have the same problem? Do you have evidence to support that implication?

    Reply
  2. catholicwatcher Post author

    Yes we do have the same problem here in Washington State.

    Almost half our tax-supported health system is subject to the oversight of three Catholic bishops who have absolute “moral” authority over medical ethics and employment policies. Very recently, the Archbishop in Seattle insisted that a popular Vice Principal be fired, even though the posted anti-discrimination policy was that employees wouldn’t be discriminated against on the basis of marital status or sexual orientation. The same archbishop tried to cut off lab services for Planned Parenthood patients in Bellingham, even though PeaceHealth in Bellingham gets tax breaks specifically because it’s a religious entity (and therefore presumably cares about people who need health services). This same archbishop serves on the Catholic bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, which dreams up all of these policies.

    If you work in health care and are not gay, not cohabitating, don’t use birth control, will never need Death with Dignity, have no fertility issues and have no plans to publicly support anyone who is gay, uses birth control, has fertility issues, etc., you’ve got no worries. The rest of you might want to clue in and pay attention.

    Reply
    1. Karl

      I am sorry but what you say is just not true. Can you give documented examples of any actual cases of what you are claiming to be a problem in hospitals in Washington State?

      I believe we have excellent hospitals and medical care in our State both church affiliated and public.

      Reply
      1. Lorie Lucky

        Well, yes. After Swedish Hospital affiliated with Providence it gave $20 million to Planned Parenthood to set up a clinic (with abortion facility) in an adjoining building, so that Swedish could refer possible direct abortion patients to Planned Parenthood and NOT do abortions at Swedish.
        Cienna Madrid, journalist for The Stranger, reported in the 2/22/13 issue on a woman who was miscarrying at over 5 months pregnant. When she and her husband arrived at the Swedish ER, the docs refused to do a D&E on the grounds that the fetus still had a heartbeat. So this woman had to wait four hours, in agony, while the fetus was monitored. THAT’s putting the fetus ahead of the woman. And if the fetus had survived it would have become what doctors call a “million dollar baby”, because it would have so many health problems it would coat the health care system $1 million dollars to get it to the age of 18.

        Reply
      2. catholicwatcher Post author

        There are two issues: 1) denial of services; and 2) employment discrimination.

        In denial of services, the Catholic hospitals/health systems don’t deny that they deny services. A recent job posting for a Family Medicine physician down in Vancouver said specifically that PeaceHealth follows the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care. These directives forbid access to “direct” abortion under any circumstances, contraception, fertility treatments, Death with Dignity, etc. The ACLU recently testified down in Olympia about a woman with a pregnancy crisis who presented at the E.R. of a Catholic hospital, accompanied by her doctor, and was told she’d have to wait until the ethics committee could weigh in before she could have the emergency procedure she needed. Religious rules trumped best medical care in that case, unless you think forcing a woman in pain to wait until religious experts weigh in is appropriate.

        In terms of employment discrimination, the Ockletree case that said religious institutions aren’t bound by the State’s antidiscrimination law was just decided in February of this year. So from this point forward, there’s nothing to keep Catholic health systems here in WA from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or any other basis that they believe might run counter to Catholic doctrine. We’ll likely not even know when “cases” occur because they don’t become cases when people have no legal recourse. Lawyers don’t like to take cases when there’s zero chance of winning.

        Reply
        1. Karl

          I understand the potential for problems but I do not see that we are facing a crisis. In reality I believe the examples you present (which seem to have been addressed) are few and far between. And in the complexities of medicine, it is difficult to get all the facts and fully understand the context of individual situations. And surely we should not extrapolate one or two instances to an entire system.

          Thousands of people of all races, religions and sexual preferences are working at our hospitals and our general population participates as patients getting good care at our healthcare facilities. While we are supporting these wonderful facilities and the caring people who work there, we need to help the facilities address any individual problems in a constructive manner.

          I hope those reading these posts will address individual issues in a caring and constructive manner without attacking the entire system which although not perfect, provides great compassionate care and needs our public support.

          Reply
          1. catholicwatcher Post author

            If by support, you mean “financial support,” support for Catholic ministries is expressly forbidden by the WA State Constitution, which says, “No public money or property shall be appropriated for or applied to any religious worship, exercise or instruction, or the support of any religious establishment…”

            Just last year, the attorney for Franciscan Health, which, like all of the Catholic health systems defines itself as a Catholic health care ministry, testified in oral arguments before Washington’s Supreme Court that the religious mission “is infused in everything” they do. In that context, they were arguing for the right to not be subject to Washington’s anti-discrimination laws. So now it’s up to all of us to make sure that as they advance their religious mission, which now includes the absolute right to discriminate against gay people and others that do things that conflict with Catholic doctrine, they need to do it without the public funds they’ve come to depend on.

            Above all, I don’t think the residents of Washington want to return to a world where women (including my Catholic mother), had to watch friends die from botched abortions and endure 10 pregnancies in 12 years before someone finally allowed a hysterectomy so she couldn’t get pregnant any more. And I doubt anyone wants to see their gay, married friends fired or not hired into medical roles in publicly financed health care systems because the way they live their lives offends the bishops and violates Catholic doctrine.

          2. catholicwatcher Post author

            @Karl, and by the way, on what planet were the cases that I cited “addressed”?

            We’re hearing about new cases now – but typically, because of the circumstances (e.g., the end of much-wanted pregnancy in stressful conditions), it’s difficult for the victims to come forward, so the rest of us who can speak out MUST. I happened to know the woman who suffered at Swedish, and I doubt she would say her situation was “addressed.” In fact, we’re hearing from people at Swedish that the situation is getting worse, not better, as Providence tightens its grip.

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