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Contract Controversy: Billboards criticize rules for Catholic teachers

CINCINNATI (Jeff Hirsh) -- The Archdiocese of Cincinnati is defending its new contract for Catholic school teachers.

All employees have to sign it, or lose their jobs.  For the first time, those contracts have a specific behavior clause which critics call narrow-minded and missing the true mission of the church. 

There are a dozen billboards a group called "Voice of the Faithful" says the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, with its new teacher contract, is not being faithful to the gospel.

Margaret Quinn of Voice of the Faithful said, "The message is these new strict conditions of the contract go so counter to the message of love and inclusion that Pope Francis is giving to the world."   
The billboards follow a recent rally against the new contracts which spell out a morality clause.  No public support for things like abortion, out of wedlock sexual relationships, or a gay lifestyle.

Dr. Jim Rigg, Superintendent of Archdiocesan schools, said, "Would Pope Francis sign the contract?  Unequivocally, yes."
The Superintendent of the Archdiocesan schools says while the new contract is longer, it does not really change what Catholic school teachers have been expected to do all along, not to publicly endorse what the church opposes.

"I'm somebody who has someone in my family that I'm close to who is gay, and I don't feel there is a conflict signing the contract and living out the ministry that I am called to, and continuing to love my relative," Dr. Rigg said.
But the billboard activists say that's hypocritical.  Christine Schroeder's four children went to Catholic school, now she has grandchildren.

"Would you feel uncomfortable having your grandchildren, although it's your children's choice, having them go to parochial schools now?" Jeff Hirsh asked her.

Schroeder responded, "Yes, our grandchildren, unfortunately and sadly, will not be going to Catholic schools and a huge number of the next generation do not want to belong to a church which discriminates and that's very sad."

The contract calls each teacher a "teacher-minister," and that term is very specific because it's easier to fire a minister at a church organization than it is to fire someone just called a teacher, who could then file suit.  This has happened, and the Archdiocese has lost one of those.  The Archdiocese of Cincinnati has more than 3,000 teachers in parishes from here to Dayton.  The Superintendent says he knows of only a handful of teachers who refused to sign the new contracts.

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