Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Union, Busted

He might've garnered national attention for his strong election-season pastoral, but before pro-choice politicos met his crosshairs, Scranton Bishop Joseph Martino made news at home earlier this year by removing the diocese's recognition of its longtime organization of Catholic educators.

After protests, the union recoursed the bishop's move to Rome... which has decided in Martino's favor:
The decree from the Holy See, dated Sept. 24 in Rome, was mailed to Bishop Martino and [Scranton Diocesan Association of Catholic Teachers] president Michael Milz.

It notes that the Congregation for Catholic Education is the competent superior authority in this matter, and having studied the matter carefully, has reached the following conclusions:
1. That the Bishop and the Diocese of Scranton have violated no civil or ecclesiastical law.
2. That Canon Law does not prohibit the Bishop’s action.
3. That fair labor policy and wages can be guaranteed by means other than those proposed by the plaintiff.
4. That the law of the Church safeguards the diocesan bishop’s broad authority over Catholic education in his jurisdiction and discretion in avoiding such actions he judges may interfere with that authority.
5. That the Bishop, especially in view of the restructuring of the Catholic schools in the Diocese, was within his rights to alter the Diocesan Policy Manual pertaining to Catholic schools.
The Diocese issued the following statement on the Vatican decision:

“The Diocese of Scranton is gratified that the Holy See has affirmed the right of Bishop Martino to make prudential judgments about the most effective means to operate the Catholic schools according to current circumstances in his diocese, in a way that will be most beneficial to students, teachers, parents, parishioners and all those who support the schools through generous stewardship.

“Moreover, this decision affirms the Bishop’s position that dignity and justice for his employees can be achieved in ways other than membership in a union. In fact, the Employee Relations Program is accomplishing that goal by giving teachers and all school support staff the opportunity to provide regular input concerning wages, benefits, working conditions and a process to address grievances.

“Most importantly, this decision refutes what some people have erroneously charged: that Bishop Martino was violating Church teaching or social doctrine regarding labor unions. The Bishop has consistently acted with the goal of providing authentic Catholic education in an atmosphere of respect and cooperation, and at a cost that is affordable for as many families as possible.”
Should it be sought, one avenue of appeal remains: the Apostolic Signatura, now headed by a familiar face.