by Mike Andrew -
SGN Staff Writer
Three Sunday-school teachers in the Roman Catholic diocese of Arlington, Virginia, resigned July 12 rather than sign a 'loyalty oath' promising to believe everything their bishops tell them.
'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,' The Washington Post reported.
According to the Post, Arlington is one of a small but growing number of dioceses that demand fidelity oaths from church workers and volunteers.
Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle does not require loyalty oaths, his spokesperson said.
'Teachers in our system sign no such oaths,' Greg Magnoni, director of communications for the Archdiocese of Seattle, said in an e-mail to Seattle online columnist Joel Connelly.
Another Catholic diocese, in Baker, Oregon, issued a long list of doctrines it requires lay church workers to believe, including 'the sinfulness of contraception, the evil of extramarital sexual relationships, the unacceptability of homosexual relationships, [and] the wrongness of cohabitation before marriage.'
Bishop Robert Vasa, former bishop of Baker and now reassigned to Santa Rosa, California, said it is appropriate to require church workers and volunteers to believe in church doctrines.
'As chief shepherd of the Church of Eastern Oregon, I need an assurance that those who serve in official capacities hold interior dispositions consistent with Church teachings,' he said in a statement.
Vasa is a canon lawyer, meaning he is an expert in church law.
In Oakland, California, controversy has broken out between Bishop Salvatore Cordileone and the Catholic Association for Lesbian and Gay Ministry.
The pro-LGBT group's leaders have been asked to sign a pledge of 'adherence to the fullness of Catholic teaching' and to promise they will 'strive to clearly present Catholic doctrine on homosexuality in its fullness.' They have refused to do so.
One of the Arlington teachers who quit is Rosemarie Zagarri, a professor of history at George Mason University. She said she felt that she was being asked to go against her own conscience.
'Although I fully understand the authoritative role of the Catholic hierarchy in defining the teachings of the faith, in my view only a person who is willing to abandon her own reason and judgment, or who is willing to go against the dictates of her own conscience, can agree to sign such a document,' she wrote to Arlington Bishop Paul Loverde.
Pope Pius X, now venerated as a saint, ordered all bishops, priests, and teachers of theology to sign an 'Oath Against Modernism' in 1910, in an attempt to counter the trend toward a less literal, more critical approach to scripture that was then starting to take hold in seminaries. The oath was scrapped in 1967, after the Second Vatican Council opened its 'dialogue with the contemporary world.'
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