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Oakland's Bishop Barber defends personal-conduct standards for Catholic-school teachers

Catholic World News - June 03, 2014

Bishop Michael Barber of Oakland, California, who has been roundly criticized for including a code of personal conduct in contracts for Catholic-school teachers, defended his policy in an interview with the National Catholic Register.

Bishop Barber, who described himself as a “career classroom teacher,” said that purpose of the revised contracts was to “set an expectation.” He explained: “Every teacher is a role model for the students, whether they are teaching P.E. or math. The classroom is their pulpit, and they will help form their students as young adults.”

Rejecting the idea that his policy was a form of interference in teachers’ private lives, the bishop said:

What you do in your private life is between you and God. But what you do in your private life that becomes public — either because you put something on Facebook or let all the kids know about it in class —becomes a source of scandal, and it directly affects your responsibilities as a teacher.

The broader purpose of the new policy, the bishop said, was to underline the Catholic identity of parochial schools. “When things drift, alternative visions replace Catholic identity,” he said. When a clear Catholic identity is lacking, he remarked, the result is an “untenable situation” in which individuals feel free to set their own rules. He reported that the controversy over his new policies had been “spurred by a few teachers and some parents who are not in agreement with most teachings of the Church.”

Bishop Barber, a Navy chaplain, also revealed to the Register that he has “kept my commission active” and is using his vacation days to fulfill his military obligations.

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Show 4 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: AimezLoyaute - Jun. 04, 2014 12:38 AM ET USA

    The Bay Area Dream Team- Bishop Sal and Bishop Michael! God grant you both many years!

  • Posted by: Defender - Jun. 03, 2014 9:38 PM ET USA

    Only a few refused to sign, too. I sincerely hope that the principals and administrators are made to sign this, too. I have heard far too many of these people state things contradicting the Magisterium and NOTHING being done to these people (but not true of those who complained).

  • Posted by: ZIP5DO@aol.com - Jun. 03, 2014 7:46 PM ET USA

    Wow! One of our few Bishops with a backbone. Great for him. Hope he sticks to his guns.

  • Posted by: filioque - Jun. 03, 2014 7:37 PM ET USA

    What is astounding is that a Catholic bishop has to explain these things to teachers and parents. Or perhaps it is more astounding that we have one who will. Thank you, Bishop Barber. Ad multos annos!

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