Duty and belief

EDITOR: David Bjorstrom ("Sensible policy," Letters, Tuesday) asked: "Why would someone work as a Catholic school teacher .<TH>.<TH>. if they do not believe?" My 15 years as a teacher in a Catholic school followed retirement from the Navy. There were times when my personal beliefs as a naval officer did not comply with U.S foreign policy nor with the behavior of political leaders and, as an educator, in matters of conscience and Catholic teaching. However, I believed it was my responsibility to act and teach in a manner that did not contradict those institutions. So, too, teachers in the Santa Rosa Diocese should be expected to behave.

For the bishop to demand a statement of compliance with the threat of dismissal is antithetical to the church's teaching on conscience. Joseph Ratzinger wrote in 1968 that "one's own conscience .<TH>.<TH>. must be obeyed above all else, if necessary even against the requirement of ecclesiastical authority." Because of the approach the bishop has taken, it seems that a moral argument could be made that the document may be signed even if one did not agree with all of its content. The apostles, our first teachers, were not asked to make a pledge of allegiance.

Follow church leaders only to the extent that they themselves follow Christ.


Santa Rosa