Oath of fidelity not a problem: Teachers union

NSW Independent Education Union secretary, Dick Shearman, says that a proposal to require Catholic school principals to take an oath of fidelity to adhere to church teachings is not discriminatory and will not impact on employment agreements.

The Brisbane Times reports that the requirement is contained in the draft Archdiocese of Sydney Pastoral Plan 2008-2011.

Principals, deputy principals and religious education coordinators at more than 120 Catholic primary and 40 Catholic secondary schools in Sydney will most likely have to take the oath in early 2008.

Cardinal Pell is behind the move to extend the oath - which is a requirement of church law for bishops, priests and heads of seminaries - to all senior educational leaders.

IEU general secretary Mr Shearman said the oath was not discriminatory and would be expected in all religious organisations.

"The position as I see it doesn't impact upon any agreements, awards or employment conditions of principals or religious education coordinators," Mr Shearman said.

"It doesn't matter what religion it is, if you're a rabbi you can hardly claim you've been discriminated against it you're expected to follow the teachings of the Jewish faith."

Bishop Julian Porteous heads the Archdiocesan Renewal Planning Committee, which drafted the plan after nearly three years of consultation.

He said guidelines, similar to what the oath would contain, already existed for school executives as prescribed by the Catholic Education Organisation.

"So this is just really a further expression of something which is already in their guidelines," he said.

"The idea of the plan is to advance the Catholic life of the archdiocese of Sydney."

Bishop Porteous echoed Mr Shearman, saying the oath would be more a job requirement and not a method of discrimination.

"If the person would look at the job description, if you like, and if they couldn't embrace all that's expected of them, then naturally they would just say ... I don't have the commitment to the religious ideals of the school," he said.

"Therefore it'd be best for me to pursue my career in another school that doesn't require that particular commitment."

Catholic oath not discriminatory: union (Brisbane Times, 5/6/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Sydney Archdiocese Draft Pastoral Plan 2008-2011 (PDF)
Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney | Bishop Julian Porteous | Cardinal George Pell
Draft Pastoral Plan needs serious re-write suggests Academic (Catholica, 18/5/07)

Pell seeks hi fidelity vows from teachers (CathNews, 4/6/07)
Sydney draft pastoral plan "seriously flawed": ACU lecturer (CathNews, 18/5/07)
Sydney Planning Committee holds first meeting (CathNews, 16/2/05)
Pastoral plan for Archdiocese of Sydney (CathNews, 23/11/04)
Future Scottish cardinal yields to Vatican pressure (CathNews, 14/10/03)

5 Jun 2007