CNN Hypes Catholic Schools 'Trying to Force Teachers' to Sign 'Morality Clause on Steroids'

On Sunday's CNN Newsroom, Susan Candiotti slanted toward the liberal opponents of the Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati's updated morality clause for its schoolteachers. Candiotti played up how the "new contract now has a litany of thou-shall-nots, including no sex outside marriage; no in-vitro fertilization; no remarriage without an annulment; no homosexual 'lifestyle;' and no public support of any of those."

The correspondent sympathized with the plight of one teacher who is "walking away from her dream job after 14 years," due to the archdiocese's "morality clause on steroids," which reemphasizes the Catholic Church's teachings on sex: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]

SUSAN CANDIOTTI: Molly Shumate loves teaching first graders at the same Cincinnati-area Catholic school where she and her two sons attended....But a newly-revised morality clause in next year's contract, covering 2,200 teacher in Greater Cincinnati, is throwing teachers for a loop....For Shumate, that homosexual ban is a slap in the face. Her son Zach is gay.

Anchor Randi Kaye teased the segment by underlining that the "so-called 'morality clause on steroids' has some teachers pretty upset." She led into the CNN journalist's report by hyping that "in Cincinnati, the archdiocese is trying to force teachers to sign a strict morality clause banning such behavior, but some Catholic teachers are fighting back."

Candiotti wasted little time before playing three consecutive soundbites from Shumate. After using her "litany of thou-shall-nots" line, the correspondent outlined that "there have been protest rallies, and billboards asking, 'Would Pope Francis sign the new Catholic teacher contract?'...There's also worry that students will suffer." She emphasized this "worry" with a clip from a "parent and attorney," who lamented that "students cannot feel comfortable coming out, if you will, to teachers – even trusted teachers – and that's a shame."

The CNN journalist did later read an excerpt from the archdiocese's school superintendent defending the "morality clause on steroids," but neglected to included actual soundbites from supporters. She also played a soundbite from CNN commentator Father Edward Beck, who contended that "the direction that Pope Francis is moving our church is against these divisive social issues. And so, it's interesting that there are certain dioceses that seem to be going in the opposite direction." She concluded her report with two more clips from Shumate.

The full transcript of Susan Candiotti's report from Sunday's CNN Newsroom:


RANDI KAYE: Should Catholic school teachers be allowed to have sex outside of marriage; or what about simply voicing support for abortion right, or gay and lesbian issues? In Cincinnati, the archdiocese is trying to force teachers to sign a strict morality clause banning such behavior, but some Catholic teachers are fighting back.

CNN's Susan Candiotti has the story.

[CNN Graphic: "Catholic Teachers Upset By Morality Clause"]

SUSAN CANDIOTTI (voice-over): Molly Shumate loves teaching first graders at the same Cincinnati-area Catholic school where she and her two sons attended.

MOLLY SHUMATE, LEAVING JOB IN CATHOLIC SCHOOL: Being a Catholic teacher is – you know, you're not in it for the money – most definitely.

[CNN Graphic: "Catholic Teachers Upset By Cincinnati Archdiocese Morality Clause 'On Steroids'"]

CANDIOTTI: But a newly-revised morality clause in next year's contract, covering 2,200 teacher in Greater Cincinnati, is throwing teachers for a loop – including Shumate. She's walking away from her dream job after 14 years.

SHUMATE: It's sad, and my spirit is broken.

CANDIOTTI: The new contract now has a litany of thou-shall-nots, including no sex outside marriage; no in-vitro fertilization; no remarriage without an annulment; no homosexual 'lifestyle;' and no public support of any of those. For Shumate, that homosexual ban is a slap in the face. Her son Zach is gay.

SHUMATE: This isn't the religion that I was raised with – telling me that I can't support my son.

CANDIOTTI (on-camera): When the archdiocese says this doesn't mean that any relationships should be severed within one's family-

SHUMATE: I don't believe that. You know, I don't think you can separate the two.

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): There have been protest rallies, and billboards asking, 'Would Pope Francis sign the new Catholic teacher contract?'

Forty-three-year veteran language teacher Roger Rosen did sign, but held his nose.

ROGER ROSEN, CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER: I signed it because I'm cowardly, and I like to be able to have a check at the end of the week. Isn't that terrible?

[CNN Graphic: "Catholic Teachers Told To Sign Morality Contract Focusing On Sex, Social Issues"]

CANDIOTTI: There's also worry that students will suffer.

TIM GARRY, PARENT AND ATTORNEY: The students cannot feel comfortable coming out, if you will, to teachers – even trusted teachers – and that's a shame.

CANDIOTTI: What's behind the so-called 'morality clause on steroids?' Mainly, an increasing number of teacher lawsuits. Last year in Cincinnati, a federal jury ordered the archdiocese to pay this unmarried teacher $170,000, after she was fired for using in-vitro fertilization.

CANDIOTTI (on-camera): We asked the archbishop to meet with us and explain the new contract – ask him some of the same questions that teachers and their supporters have been asking us. But through his representative, he said no, and instead, gave us a copy of an open letter written by his school superintendent.

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): It states, in part, 'The contract is not an excuse for some type of witch hunt, but merely a clearer verbalization of what it means to be a Catholic school teacher.'

But at what cost?

FATHER EDWARD BECK: The direction that Pope Francis is moving our church is against these divisive social issues. And so, it's interesting that there are certain dioceses that seem to be going in the opposite direction.

CANDIOTTI: For Molly Shumate, enough's enough.

SHUMATE: 'Thank you for standing up for your son.'

CANDIOTTI: After supporting her son, Shumate's getting support from others.

SHUMATE: I know in my heart I'm doing the right thing.

CANDIOTTI: Praying her diocese will have a change of heart. Susan Candiotti, CNN, Cincinnati.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center