The Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney wants its school leaders to publicly commit to a vow of fidelity by adhering to church teaching on some crucial issues--homosexuality, birth control and women's ordination.
The vow would apply to its 167 principals, its deputy principals and religious education coordinators and would be a first for the Catholic Church in Australia, Fairfax newspapers report.
The Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, is behind the move to extend the oath. He is perhaps drawing his inspiration from the apostolic exhortation issued by Pope John Paul II in 1990, Ex Corde Ecclesiae (From the Heart of the Church). In his exhortation, the late Holy Father calls for all those teaching theology in Catholic universities to take an oath of fidelity to the teaching of the Church and those who are not Catholic are asked to respect the Catholic identity of the school.
The Australian requirement is contained in a draft pastoral plan circulated to all parishes of the Sydney archdiocese for comment.
The plan includes marriage preparation classes for senior secondary school students, twice-yearly reviews of its educational bodies, and forums so Catholic politicians can be updated on church teachings.
It also includes formal courses and seminars to teach youth about sexuality and life issues.
The archdiocese says the oath is not an attempt at control but has symbolic value as a public commitment to the moral teachings and identity of the church.