How’s this for a bizarre headline: “Sydney principals forced to uphold Catholic values.” In other news, lawyers have been forced to uphold the law, doctors have been forced to treat disease, and baseball players have been forced to win games.
This is the headline on the transcript of a news report from the Australian ABC TV network. Here’s how the story begins:
TONY JONES: Back to Australia, and Catholic school principals in the Archdiocese of Sydney will soon have to swear on the Bible to uphold Catholic principles.
Cardinal George Pell is imposing the oaths to ensure senior teachers toe the church line on contentious issues like women’s ordination, birth control and homosexuality.
Philippa McDonald reports.
PHILIPPA MCDONALD: As Cardinal, George Pell is the chief teacher of the Catholic faith in Sydney, and now he says it’s not enough for those who run his schools to say they believe, they’ll have to swear two oaths as well.
The oaths are merely a Profession of Faith and the Oath of Fidelity. If you’re going to teach in a Catholic school, should you have any problem assuring the parents of these students that you will indeed provide the Catholic education they expect you’re giving. If my physician refused to take the Hippocratic Oath, but asked me to take his word that he would act ethically anyway, I’d be looking for a new doctor.
But these principals are calling the decision “heavy-handed” and complain that it came with no consultation. Why should there be consultation? They’re Catholic teachers in Catholic schools. Do we need to negotiate with them on how much of God’s revealed truth they should abide by?
I applaud Cardinal Pell for taking seriously his duty and obligation to safeguard the faith and the methods by which it is passed on.