"A failure to do that is an abdication of my responsibility."
| Carl E. Olson | Catholic World Report
Bishop Robert F. Vasa talks about education, witness, conscience, responsibility, faithfulness—and Benedict XVI.
Excellency, Bishop Robert F. Vasa, is the sixth bishop of the Diocese of
Santa Rosa, California. Prior to coming to Santa Rosa in January 2010,
he was the bishop of the Diocese of Baker, Oregon, for ten years. Bishop
Vasa recently required the 200 teachers in the diocesan schools to sign an
addendum to their contracts, titled "Bearing Witness". This addendum
acknowledges that they are called "to a life of holiness" and that "this
call is the more compelling for me since I have been entrusted, in my
vocation as a teacher/administrator in a Catholic school, with the
formation of souls." It also states, "I am especially cognizant of the
fact that modern errors -- including but not limited to matters that
gravely offend human dignity and the common good such as contraception,
abortion, homosexual 'marriage' and euthanasia -- while broadly accepted
in society, are not consistent with the clear teachings of the Catholic
Bishop Vasa spoke last week with Carl E. Olson, editor of Catholic World Report, about the controversy over his directive, the proper goals of Catholic education, the serious misunderstandings that exist about "conscience", and some of the biggest challenges facing the Church in the United States.
CWR: You had a similar situation when you were the bishop of the Diocese of Baker, Oregon, where you asked all those involved in catechesis—
Bishop Vasa: —in ecclesial ministries of one kind or another.
CWR: —to sign. How similar are the two situations?
Bishop Vasa: It was the same general principle, but it is different here because it involves people who work for me in a contractual relationship because I am their employer.
CWR: And the situation in Oregon involved people who were sometimes volunteers and such.
Bishop Vasa: Right.
CWR: You know the lay of the land and you surely expected some negative reaction. Did the reaction live up to your expectations?