Catholic school teachers react to moral code in new contract

Catholic school teachers react to moral code in new contract

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - There are 16 teachers at Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic school. Last week they heard the details of a new employment agreement. The expanded contract spells out the moral code teachers in Hawaii's parochial schools are being required to live by, in the classroom and in their private lives.

"It doesn't make me feel uncomfortable. It's my faith. It's what I believe. It's what I want the students to see out of me," second-grade teacher Chantelle Enos said.

Grounds for firing include adultery, homosexual activity, same-sex unions, abortion or in-vitro fertilization, or living with someone other than a spouse.

Teacher Warren Cabading agrees with the terms but believes some teachers won't.

"If I don't agree with it, then maybe as a teacher that's something I got to sit down with myself, my family, and figure out where do I want to go?" he said.

Catholic Schools Superintendent Dr. Michael Rockers said teachers who sign the contract then violate it will be dealt with pastorally.

"We connect with the teacher and let them know we're aware of what seems to be a serious contradiction in what they agreed to and what we're aware of," he said.

The updated agreement covers instructors in 36 schools that fall under Hawaii's Roman Catholic Church. Enos said it's a road map.

"It really defines what is being asked of me to help the students grow in their faith," she said.

The moral code clause is similar to what's being added in Catholic school districts around the nation. Some disgruntled teachers in Cincinnati threaten to form a union. So far there's been no backlash in Hawaii.

"I think there are questions about why at this time? And why the focus on Catholic identity?" Rockers said.

The contract covers 650 Catholic school teachers statewide. About half have studied the new deal.

"If that's what we state in our faith then we should be living by it," Enos said.

"I think you want to practice what you preach, and especially what you teach," Cabading said.

Teachers who want to continue working in the Catholic schools must sign the contract by June 30. It takes effect later this year.

Follow Jim Mendoza:   

Copyright 2014 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved