Bishop relents on vow for Catholic school teachers

Bishop Robert Vasa acted Thursday to quell a rising tide of unrest, announcing he would not require the Santa Rosa Catholic Diocese's teachers to sign a morality clause as part of their contracts if they want to teach next year.

But the bishop, who hews to a strict interpretation of church doctrine, indicated that within two years he intends to put into place something in some way resembling his controversial "addendum." The addendum would have required educators employed by the diocese to affirm that contraception, gay marriage, euthanasia are "modern errors" and "matters that gravely offend human dignity."

"The goals which we had established for this year's teacher contracts will be postponed and we will plan to implement them, in some form, in the spring of 2015," Vasa said in a letter released Thursday that was nearly two pages long and addressed to "Pastors, Principals and especially Teachers."

The plan had provoked fears by teachers, some of them non-Catholics, that they would have to choose between personal beliefs and their jobs. It prompted an outpouring of criticism from parents and students.

"We are extremely ecstatic and grateful to Bishop Vasa," said Lori Edgar, the parent of a Cardinal Newman High School senior and freshman. A Catholic, Edgar had said Vasa's edict did not reflect her understanding of her faith.

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