Santa Rosa Diocese Issues Updated Code of Ethics
SANTA ROSA— Bishop Robert F. Vasa of the Diocese of Santa Rosa in California released an updated Code of Ethics which clarifies an existing paragraph in the parochial school employee contract. The new contract, effective for the 2015-16 school year, like previous contracts, contains a reference to the code of ethics for Catholic school principals and teachers.
Although very similar to previous versions, what makes the revised contract somewhat unique is the addition of a reference to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC).
The revised code of ethics—particularly Principle 1— makes it clear that the CCC is the source text for all references to Catholic teaching, values, and morals. At the same time it takes a broader, more philosophical approach. It outlines personal and professional commitments and details acceptable understandings and corresponding behaviors for those entrusted with delivering Catholic education. It reminds diocesan school employees they are both educators and ministerial agents of the Catholic Church.
Promulgated by Pope St. John Paul II in 1992, the CCC is the “authoritative exposition of the one, perennial, apostolic faith,” and thus the source for the standards and statutes for the Santa Rosa diocese and its institutions.
The contract and code’s release follows months of intensive discussions in collaboration with pastors and principals.
“I am very grateful to all who worked with me on this,” said Vasa. “The suggestion that we link the contract to the entire Catechism came from pastors. This prudently avoids specific identification of polarizing issues, albeit without, at the same time, eliminating them.”
Previously the requirement for Catholic schools in the Santa Rosa diocese has been, “The teacher must not teach, advocate, model, or in any way encourage beliefs or behaviors contrary to the teachings of the Church.”
Generically stating “beliefs or behaviors contrary to the teachings of the Church” without further explanation could give the impression that these “teachings” are open to broad individual interpretation. Clarifying that the “teachings of the Church” and the Code of Ethics are rooted in the Catechism assures that the terms of both are properly understood by all.
Diocesan officials say all of this will help assure that terms and conditions previously open to an unduly broad interpretation will now rest on a firmer, more objective foundation.
The Diocese of Santa Rosa in California consists of six northern California counties: Napa, Sonoma, Lake, Mendocino, Humboldt, and Del Norte, which borders Oregon. Bishop Robert F. Vasa has served as ordinary of the diocese since 2011.