The Arlington Diocese, which includes nearly a half-million Catholics across northern and eastern Virginia, is one of a small but growing number that are starting to demand fidelity oaths. The oaths reflect a churchwide push in recent years to revive orthodoxy that has sharply divided Catholics.
Such oaths are not new for priests or nuns but extend now in some places to people like volunteer Sunday school teachers as well as workers at Catholic hospitals and parish offices.
The Arlington “profession of faith” asks teachers to commit to “believe everything” the bishops characterize as divinely revealed, and Arlington’s top doctrine official said it would include things like the bishops’ recent campaign against a White House mandate that most employers offer contraception coverage. Critics consider the mandate a violation of religious freedom.
Articles like this almost make me wish I was a journalist. Instead of actual research and getting quotes I could just write “critics say” followed by anything I wanted to make a point with – that done I could go home after a days work. Yes religious freedom now means you have the right to be a catechist even if you won’t swear to teach what the Church teaches.
So far, out of the diocese’s 5,000 Sunday and parochial school teachers, four are objecting to it and will not take the oath.
So what exactly is objectionable to them? The Profession of Faith simply starts with the Creed and then says:
With firm faith, I also believe everything contained in the Word of God, whether written or handed down in tradition, which the Church, either by solemn judgment or by the ordinary and universal Magisterium, sets forth to be believed as divinely inspired.
I also accept and hold each and everything definitively proposed by the Church regarding teaching on faith and morals.
Moreover, I adhere with religious submission of will and intellect to the teachings with either the Roman Pontiff or the College of Bishops enunciate whey the exercise their authentic Magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim theses teachings by a definitive act.
This section is pretty much a restatement of the levels of Church teaching from the Vatican II document Lumen Gentium section 25. Though an actual document from Vatican II doesn’t count since as much as ye ole spirit of Vatican II.
Now as far as these four women saying they can’t take the oath. Well if their conscience seriously objects to it, than that is what they should do. This is much better than those who would swear the oath and not fully mean it. Oath-taking has fallen on hard times across the spectrum from marriages to politicians swearing to defend the Constitution.
One of the women submitted a letter explaining why she won’t take the oath and I don’t think she really explained why she won’t. One of the reasons is that she says it is not even possible to “specify ALL the teachings proposed definitively.” I find this rather lame as if you can know most of them yet the one you might not knows directly is the one you would object to. As if the Church has hidden the definitive teachings making it impossible to know them all without looking at lots of fine print. She says it is “impossible to know” what she is assenting to. Yeah that shows a lot of faith and trust in the Church. Another reason has even less substance in that the “expression of teachings have not reached their fullest expression in the present.” Well if the Magisterium’s deepening understanding in the area of faith and morals makes it so that you can no longer accept the faith at that point, well then resign at that point.
She even goes on to write that “only a person who is willing to abandon her own reason and judgment, or who is wiling to go against the dictates of her own conscience, can agree to sign such a document.” Wow so of the 5,000 catechetical teachers who will sign this document they are all willing to abandon reason and their conscience. Talk about abandoning reason and pure vanity. Being guided by the Magisterium is not abandoning reason since we must fully engage our reason to come to a fuller understanding of Church teaching.
She also says that forcing this issue she will be depriving students of teachers. Well 4 out of 5,000 is not much depriving. Though the 5,000 figure seems awfully high to me. One thing for sure this policy is already working if it keeps teachers like her from poisoning others with such a skeptical view of the Magisterium and the ability to know what she teaches. She treats this oath like a contract with the Devil where you must make sure there are no loopholes that will back-stab you later.
Via Rorate Caeli