Teaching Profession

Vatican Office Rebuffs St. Louis Catholic Teachers

By Mary Ann Zehr — February 23, 2005 2 min read

The Vatican has dismissed on a technicality a complaint that the St. Louis-based Association of Catholic Elementary Educators filed in August charging that the head of the Archdiocese of St. Louis was violating church law by not permitting teachers in Roman Catholic elementary schools to unionize.

The association had argued that Archbishop Raymond L. Burke broke church law by writing in a June 9, 2004, letter that “neither the archdiocese nor individual parishes will recognize or bargain collectively with any organization as a representative of teachers.” (“St. Louis Catholic School Teachers Seek Union,” Nov. 24, 2004.)

For nine years, the association has sought recognition from the archdiocese as a union.

Archbishop Burke sent his letter after elementary school teachers had informed the pastors of 10 schools in the archdiocese that they wanted to hold union elections.

The Congregation for Catholic Education, the church department in Rome that handles education matters for the Vatican, responded to the association’s complaint in a Feb. 1 decision that said the congregation addresses only “singular administrative acts.” Archbishop Burke’s statement, according to the letter from the Vatican, doesn’t qualify as such an act because it is a general decree applying to all parties in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

Mary Chubb, the president of the St. Louis teachers’ association, said she doesn’t understand how the Vatican could conclude that Archbishop Burke’s statement regarding negotiating with teachers isn’t a singular act, because the archdiocese has permitted teachers in its high schools to unionize but hasn’t done the same for elementary school teachers.

Reasoning Questioned

She said the association used that argument in an appeal it filed with the Congregation for Catholic Education after receiving its decision.

George Henry, the superintendent of education for the St. Louis Archdiocese, said he couldn’t shed any light on whether Archbishop Burke’s statement is a singular administrative act or general decree. “It’s the first time I’ve heard that terminology. I don’t know what any of those terms mean,” he said. “It’s really between the association and Rome.”

Ms. Chubb speculated that the congregation used a technicality to reject the complaint “to avoid the essential issue of recognition of these elections, the association, and commencing negotiations.”

She added: “We’ve been told [church officials] have a reputation for protecting each other and they don’t want to slap the bishop’s hand.”

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the February 23, 2005 edition of Education Week as Vatican Office Rebuffs St. Louis Catholic Teachers

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Culturally Relevant Pedagogy to Advance Educational Equity
Schools are welcoming students back into buildings for full-time in-person instruction in a few short weeks and now is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and systems to build
Content provided by PowerMyLearning
Classroom Technology Webinar Making Big Technology Decisions: Advice for District Leaders, Principals, and Teachers
Educators at all levels make decisions that can have a huge impact on students. That’s especially true when it comes to the use of technology, which was activated like never before to help students learn
Professional Development Webinar Expand Digital Learning by Expanding Teacher Training
This discussion will examine how things have changed and offer guidance on smart, cost-effective ways to expand digital learning efforts and train teachers to maximize the use of new technologies for learning.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession Opinion Only 15 Students Showed Up for Online Class. Then, Teachers Got Creative
When COVID-19 closed school buildings, teachers worked to exhaustion but also felt proud.
Lora Bartlett
1 min read
A teacher shares her pandemic experience.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and PeopleImages/iStock
Teaching Profession Opinion Teachers Were Told to 'Give Grace' as the Pandemic Started. They Did That and Much More
Districts offered little guidance otherwise, writes researcher Lora Bartlett.
Lora Bartlett
4 min read
Illustration of teachers working
F. Sheehan/Getty
Teaching Profession Educators of Color: Schools Need to Better Support Racial Justice Efforts
A new survey of educators of color finds that few received any training for addressing racism and violence with their students.
5 min read
Image of a teacher and students.
nadia_bormotova/iStock/Getty
Teaching Profession Opinion I've Studied Teachers for 20 Years. The Pandemic Was Their Ultimate Challenge
Researcher Lora Bartlett wondered what was happening behind the scenes as teachers' cheerful voices radiated from her daughters' computers.
Lora Bartlett
4 min read
Opinion Bartlett1 KNOW THYSELF LINCOLN
Lincoln Agnew for Education Week