In this morning’s Cincinnati Enquirer, a local attorney and author pens a thoughtful defense of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s new teacher contract:

The vigorous and heated rhetoric over the new teacher contract for Archdiocese of Cincinnati schools reveals the fundamental tension between American political values and the rights and duties of a religious institution such as the Catholic Church to name and carry out its mission. Public reactions to the contract, including rallies, billboards funded by the self-appointed “Voice of the Faithful,” and petitions circulated by such anti-Catholic groups as and have been well-documented in the Enquirer.

From the actual wording of the contract, it should be surprising that there is any controversy at all. By signing the contract, Archdiocesan teachers merely agree to refrain from engaging in conduct that includes:

“… public support of or publicly living together outside marriage, public support of or sexual activity out of wedlock, public support of or homosexual lifestyle, public support of or use of abortion, public support of or use of a surrogate mother, public support of or use of in vitro fertilization or artificial insemination, public membership in organizations whose mission and message are incompatible with Catholic doctrine or morals, and/or flagrant deceit or dishonesty.”

As a point of Catholic moral teaching and practice, this is unremarkable language, reflecting well-settled doctrine. It does not forbid discussion of these topics, including presentation of arguments that would challenge the teaching. Nor does it prevent a teacher who is the parent of a gay child from loving and supporting that child. It merely ensures that teachers who sign the contract to teach in a Catholic school do not advocate moral positions or live moral lifestyles that violate Catholic teaching. And, of course, no one is required to sign the contract. Then why the hubbub? …

And just before last weekend, the Enquirer ran a story on a teacher who quit rather than sign the new contract.

WCPO Channel 9 News also runs a story today, focusing on the protest billboards now known to be funded by Voice of the Faithful, a group which first made headlines a dozen years ago in the aftermath of the abuse scandal.

UPDATE. The Enquirer‘s Josh Pichler writes a piece on the contract that includes the line “You don’t get more Catholic than Notre Dame,” an assertion with which I suspect more than a few Catholics would quibble.