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Firing offense: Catholic teacher contracts spell out 'immoral conduct'

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Employees of Roman Catholic schools in Columbus are being required to sign updated contracts that include specific examples of immoral conduct that are prohibited.

Examples of behavior that could get the workers fired include having sex without being married, having an abortion or publicly supporting abortion rights, and entering into a marriage not recognized by the Catholic Church.

The changes also specify that workers must abide by Catholic Church teachings “both within and outside their employment duties” and regardless of their religious affiliation, according to The Columbus Dispatch ( ).

The Diocese of Columbus joined its counterparts in Cincinnati and Cleveland in amending school policies to detail the examples of prohibited behavior. Teachers and other employees are now receiving the updated contracts.

George Jones, a diocese spokesman, said the changes are meant to clarify existing policies.

The agreements apply to 1,479 school employees and 2,661 employees elsewhere in the diocese, he said. They do not apply to employees of Catholic hospitals and universities, which are separate entities.

“These in no way alter or modify the original intent of these policies,” the diocese said in a statement.

“Catholic institutions should inherently reflect Catholic teachings. While our diocese is open to staff, faculty and students of many faiths and beliefs, it is entirely appropriate and necessary that these institutions, and the employees who serve within them, strive to respect these teachings as set forth in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.”

The changes come after the Columbus Diocese reached a private settlement with a physical education teacher who was fired after she acknowledged her same-sex partner in a newspaper obituary.

In Cincinnati last year, the archdiocese was ordered by a federal jury to pay $171,000 to a teacher fired after she became pregnant through artificial insemination. In a separate case, the archdiocese settled out of court with an unmarried teacher who was fired after she became pregnant.