Damascus Route

Remarried divorcees are denied teaching posts at Catholic schools


Remarried divorcees are denied teaching posts at Catholic schools

Belgium's Primate, André-Joseph Léonard
Belgium’s Primate André-Joseph Léonard, head of one of the nation’s most “liberal” churches has tightened the rules for the employment of remarried divorcees in Catholic schools. The ban extends to the whole of Europe
Giacomo Galeazzi
vatican city

No teaching in Catholic schools for anyone who has divorced and remarried. And anyone who does not have a canonically sound private life has no hope of becoming headmaster at any school run by religious congregations.

The "crackdown" on religion teachers and heads of schools comes from the Catholic Primate of Belgium, Andre-Joseph Leonard. The head of one of the more “liberal” churches is therefore, reverses the usual progressive line of the Belgian episcopate and is setting the standards for what is happening in the rest of Europe, where divorced persons hardly go into teaching religion in Catholic schools let alone become Presidents of religious institutes. Besides, this is why Benedict XVI put Leonard at the helm of the Belgian Catholic Church. To steer one of the churches that interpreted the winds of change in a more liberal key in the aftermath of Vatican II, towards the traditional stance the Church had always adopted. In a country that launched its own catechism in antagonism to the Roman doctrine, in the Pope’s mind Leonard must try to lead the faithful to safe and familiar havens.

The problem of divorced and remarried people, in this sense, is an important test. It is a controversial issue which local bishops have been faced with for some time. In 1993, three German bishops (Lehmann, Kasper and Saier) declared themselves in favor of allowing them to receive the Eucharist if, after consulting with a priest, they felt in all consciousness have the right. The Vatican, however, criticized this position. Divorce is also a question of ecumenical significance, in that it separates the Catholic Church from the Orthodox and Protestant Churches. Eastern tradition, referring to the principle of "oikonomia" (the prevalence of mercy on strict application of the law), admits the possibility of blessing a second and third marriage. The Churches of the Reformation, for their part, support in principle, the indissolubility of marriage, but respect the conscience of the faithful, allowing divorcees to remarry in church and approach the Eucharist.

Throughout the world, individuals who divorce and remarry, cannot teach catechism in a parish nor teach religion in Catholic schools.At the annual Teacher’s Day, Monsignor Carmine Brienza, Director of the Office of Catholic Schools of the Vicariate of Rome, traced the contours of the figure of the Catholic school teacher at the Highlands Institute, directed by the consecrated of the Regnum Christi movement. “What is the role of the Catholic school teacher? And who can teach in a Catholic school? Is there a Catholic way of teaching? What is the limit of the Catholic proposal? - asks Bishop Brienza. Not a saint, not necessarily someone who has "reached" faith, but persons on a journey into faith, able to question themselves on the contribution they can make to the school, the Catholic school, the project of the school where they are working, with their professionalism and to try and reconcile their lifestyles with what this educational plan proposes.” Catholic school teachers are teaching professionals: they must have their "papers in order," their skills backed by documents and facts. “They are professionals of Christian education says Monsignor Brienza. And anyone who accepts the anthropological vision that emerges from Christianity, looks at children and guides their development, in this light. The Catholic school teacher is a person engaged in a journey of faith and Christian growth. Because nobody can give what they do not possess.”

The school, the parish, the family are examples of community models that allow us to live within the Church. Thus, “the Church is our Mother, it does not reject anyone, it welcomes all its children, but asks each one to question themselves, to begin a journey, to try to accept the gift of faith, each, in the solidity of their own life, marked sometimes by grief, illness, suffering from the consequences of errors.” The Church respects each person’s freedom and cannot help but suggest that “they follow Christ, as their path to happiness, as a way of salvation, in different and sometimes crossed ways, such as parishes, movements, groups and Catholic schools, communities in which to grow humanly, following the man-God Jesus Christ.”