A small group gathered Thursday morning across the street from the Cincinnati Archdiocese offices in Downtown. They're protesting the new Catholic school teacher contract which includes specific language prohibiting employees from publicly supporting causes that run counter to Catholic teachings.
They're also supporting Purcell Marian High School teacher Dick Hague. The 66-year-old literature, humanities and creative writing teacher plans to retire from a 45-year career rather than sign the new contract.
About a dozen people carried signs supporting Hague and railing against the contract. One woman said more people were expected to join throughout the day. They plan to rally from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Former Purcell Marian Dean of Student Life Mike Moroski spoke to the media. Moroski was fired last year because of a blog post he wrote supporting gay marriage. He said Thursday, "All of this was avoidable. The contract could have stayed the same. As Dick Hague says it wasn't perfect but it was a don't ask, don't tell kind of policy and it worked. All I and a lot of other folks ask the Archdiocese to do is to revert back to the old language."
The church says that won't happen. Last week, Superintendent Jim Rigg told WVXU the Archdiocese is standing by the contract. Rigg argues the contract doesn't have any new stipulations for employees but rather clarifies expectations that have always been included.
Communications Director Dan Andriacco says the Archdiocese knows of nine people who have told their schools they are quitting or retiring because they refuse to sign the contract. However, there could be others who are retiring for the same reason but haven't said anything. Andriacco says 80-90% of teachers have been presented with the contract.
The Archdiocese issued the following statement:
The Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s 2014-2015 Teacher-Minister Contract honors the vital ministry of our teachers in maintaining the educational quality and the Catholic identity of our schools. Only a handful of the teachers to whom it has been presented have refused to sign it.
The Teacher-Minister Contract is reflective of the teachings of the Catholic Church. These teachings have remained consistent under the leadership of Pope Francis. Expressions of opinion, however well meant and deeply felt, will not change the contract – or the teachings of the Catholic Church.
Despite unfavorable demographic trends that have challenged Catholic schools across the country, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati has the sixth largest Catholic school network in the United States in terms of enrollment (up from eighth place two years ago). When students return in the fall, they will find our schools fully staffed with outstanding teachers ready to provide the excellent Catholic education for which they are well known.
The contract covers about 2,800 employees in 94 schools.