Canon Law and Catholic Schools

I have reflected before on what makes a school Catholic. Education based on the premise that there is such a thing as truth, and that truth can be accessed and understood. Fundamentally, knowing the truth and living in accordance with it will make you better equipt for life and facilitate a confident, happy, family based society which values every member.

The essential element that will facilitate delivery of this ideal must be educators who know, love, and live Catholic lives. Truly Catholic teachers are our schools greatest asset.

Here are some clarifications regarding the legitimate expectations of Catholic schools regarding their teaching staff based on the CES contract and Canon Law.

The CES contract of employment for teachers in Catholic schools, in its general terms and conditions (section 4) states:

4.1 You are to exercise the ministry and professional duties and maintain the professional standards of a Teacher in the School under the directions of the Governing Body and under the immediate directions of the Headteacher and in accordance with (a) the provisions of the Education Acts and any associated Regulations; (b) the conditions of employment prescribed in the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (“STPCD”) from time to time in force, including the National Workload Agreement; (c) the Trust Deed and the Instrument of Government of the School; (d) Canon Law in relation to the governance of the School; (e) any regulations or policies of the Governing Body; (f) the Burgundy Book , and any further modifications of the same; and (g) any local collective agreements recognised by the Governing Body to the extent that (f) is consistent with (a) to (d) above and (e) above as adopted by the Governing Body.

Let's expand some of the relevant Canons in this regard:

Can. 803 §2 Formation and education in a Catholic school must be based on the principles of Catholic doctrine, and the teachers must be outstanding in true doctrine and uprightness of life.

Can. 804 §2 The local Ordinary is to be careful that those who are appointed as teachers of religion in schools, even non-Catholic ones, are outstanding in true doctrine, in the witness of their Christian life, and in their teaching ability.

Can. 805 In his own diocese, the local Ordinary has the right to appoint or to approve teachers of religion and, if religious or moral considerations require it, the right to remove them or to demand that they be removed.

The Contract goes on to state:

4.2 You are expected to be conscientious and loyal to the aims and objectives of the School. You will not be expected to refrain from any outside activity (whether paid or unpaid) unless, in the reasonable opinion of the Governing Body, such activity would interfere with the efficient discharge of your duties.

4.3 You are required to develop and maintain the Catholic character of the School. You are to have regard to the Catholic character of the School, not to do anything in any way detrimental or prejudicial to the interest of the same.

14.1 The disciplinary rules and procedures governing your employment are set out in the Governing Body’s Disciplinary Procedure from time to time in force, notified to staff.

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