A former Benson High School teacher who openly protested Planned Parenthood, based on his Catholic beliefs, filed a $390,000 lawsuit Wednesday against Portland Public Schools claiming he was wrongly booted from the district.
Former math teacher Bill Diss, who as a devout Catholic attends daily mass, claims that his free speech rights were violated, he was discriminated against because of his religious beliefs and he was wrongfully discharged after more than a decade of teaching at the school.
According to his 38-page suit, filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court:
Diss’ troubles with the district began in February 2007 when he actively began to protest plans for a Planned Parenthood headquarters in Northeast Portland. Media started calling the school asking for Diss, and he was interviewed by TV and radio reporters, according to the suit.
“As the attention mounted, the plaintiff was summoned for questioning by Benson High School administrators,” reads the suit. “He was interrogated about his activities by the principal and by an attorney for the District.
The activities in question occurred on his own time, not at school, nonetheless he was specifically instructed not to mention the fact that he was a teacher or where he worked when making public statements.”
Schools spokeswoman Christine Miles said Thursday that "the school district believes the allegations he has brought up in a legal matter do not have merit, and we will continue through the process to prove that."
Although Miles didn't elaborate beyond that, in a letter from the district, which Diss provided to The Oregonian in 2013, the district stated that Diss had shown "unprofessional, intimidating and/or harassing behavior."
In a 2013 story on OregonLive.com, Diss conceded that he talked about Planned Parenthood and his religious beliefs in class, but he didn't stop students from expressing their own views.
On Sept. 17, 2012, employees from Planned Parenthood Columbia-Willamette showed up to his tutorial class to talk to students about their sexual activities and methods of contraception, according to the suit.
“This knowledge surprised (Diss) and caused him serious emotional distress,” reads the suit. He later learned that Planned Parenthood would continue to visit his classroom throughout the rest of the school year -- and he would have to continue to “facilitate their interactions with students,” the suit states.
His request to be excused from those presentations was denied by school administration, according to the suit.
Diss grew more concerned when he saw Planned Parenthood offer students food and gift certificates to attend its optional Teen Outreach Program -- and promise students up to $30 cash to complete a survey on their sexual activities, the suit states. The program focuses on preventing teen pregnancy and improving academic success, according to Planned Parenthood's website.
People he knew in the Vietnamese community also told him that promotional material written in Vietnamese and passed out by Planned Parenthood wrongly stated that Diss supported the organization’s Teen Outreach Program, the suit states.
In 2012, Diss was quoted in an Oregonian news story saying he'd been suspended for a day in October 2012 for refusing to let the Teen Outreach Program presenters into his classroom.
“Because (Diss) expressed his opposition to the activities of Planned Parenthood at Benson High School, he became a target of” the administration, the suit reads. “They launched a full-scale assault on the plaintiff as a teacher. He was observed and evaluated on the most minute aspects of his teaching.”
The suit states that in fall 2012, Vice Principal Jeandre Carbone wrote him an email asking him to stop using “God Bless” in his communications with her, staff, parents and students.
Things kept going downhill, and by March 2013 the school board decided not to extend his contract, which ran through June 2014, according to the suit. That same month a police officer escorted him off school grounds, and he was told not to return to school for any reason, the suit states.
At a pre-termination hearing last year, multiple administrators testified that Diss was often rude to students and had a pattern of behavior that was damaging to his relationships with students and co-workers.
But at a December 2013 school board meeting over whether to dismiss Diss, several supporters defended him and criticized the board. Others held "We Love Mr. Diss" signs. Even so, the school board voted 6-1 to terminate his contract, with board member Steve Buel dissenting.
The suit states Diss lost his job despite for years having received proficient or better -- even exceptional -- ratings in job performance reviews.
Diss, who lives in Beaverton, is seeking $90,000 in economic damages for lost past wages and benefits. He’s also seeking $300,000 for emotional distress.
The suit was filed by attorney Rebekah Millard at the Life Legal Defense Foundation in Springfield.
The suit states Diss believes Planned Parenthood commits many “grave moral evils” and promotes “sexual behaviors which his religious tenets characterized as deviant."
-- Aimee Green
There is a poll you can take on the paper's website.
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Friday, September 19, 2014
Thursday, September 18, 2014
I date myself by adapting an old advertising slogan from years ago when I say, “When Pope Francis talks, people listen.” That cannot be denied. Our Holy Father has a very “plainspoken” style that many find refreshing. He “tells it like it is,” as they say. He has even made some comments that have been taken out of context and misinterpreted and misrepresented. His classic “who am I to judge” remark is a perfect example of this.
But what I find interesting is that few in the media, especially the secular media, have picked up on the fact that Pope Francis talks a lot about Satan, the devil. In my living memory of three popes, I cannot recall any pope talking as much and as bluntly about Satan than Pope Francis. Just a couple of weeks ago, Pope Francis said the following in his weekly general audience:
“The path of salvation, through which the Church guides us and accompanies us with the power of the Gospel and the support of the Sacraments, gives us the ability to defend ourselves from evil. The Church has the courage of a mother who knows that she must protect her own children from the dangers resulting from the presence of Satan in the world, to bring them to the encounter with Jesus. This defense also consists of a call to vigilance: be on guard against the deception and seduction of evil. Because, even if God has conquered Satan, his temptations always return. We know this, we are all under attack. It is not for us to be naïve, but to be vigilant and stand firm in the faith, not to resist the advice of a mother, resist the help of mother Church.”
In his very first homily after being elected Pope, he said the following strong words to the Cardinals gathered in the Sistine Chapel: “When one does not profess Jesus Christ — I recall the phrase of Leon Bloy — ‘Whoever does not pray to God, prays to the devil.’ When one does not profess Jesus Christ, one professes the worldliness of the devil.” That’s pretty strong stuff.
As if to stave off any criticisms of speaking about Satan, Pope Francis said the following in one of his daily Mass homilies from last April:
“We are all tempted because the law of our spiritual life, our Christian life is a struggle: a struggle. That’s because the Prince of this world, Satan, doesn’t want our holiness, he doesn’t want us to follow Christ. Maybe some of you might say: ‘But Father, how old fashioned you are to speak about the devil in the 21st century!’ But look out because the devil is present! The devil is here… even in the 21st century! And we mustn’t be naïve, right? We must learn from the Gospel how to fight against Satan.”
Okay, so some of you might be thinking at this point, “Why is the archbishop dwelling on this topic in his column?” That’s a fair question. It is because, like our Holy Father, I want us to be keenly aware of the spiritual struggle we are in for the salvation of our souls. It is my responsibility as a shepherd to guard and protect the flock entrusted to my pastoral care. Some might find this kind of talk unsettling or uncomfortable. I hope so!
What is our defense, or even offense, against the evil that confronts us in this world? Pope Francis clearly hints at it in the homily quoted above. Satan does not want our holiness and does not want us to follow Christ. So striving for holiness and following Christ is exactly what we must do!
An author familiar to some of you, Dr. Peter Kreeft, wrote an interesting essay some time ago entitled “The Winning Strategy.” In it he makes three essential points: First, we are at war. Second, we must know who the enemy is. And third, what weapon will win this war.
One of my favorite lines from the essay is, “If you don’t know that our entire civilization is in crisis, I hope you had a nice vacation on the moon.” We are in a struggle, as our Holy Father points out as well. Pope Francis uses phrases like, “we are all under attack”, “our Christian life is a struggle” and “we must learn from the Gospel how to fight against Satan.” That gets to Dr. Kreeft’s second point: our enemy is Satan.
But it is Dr. Kreeft’s third point that is most important, i.e. the weapon to use in this struggle. It is holiness. It is the sincere effort to become a saint. This corresponds with Pope Francis’ own remarks about what the Evil One does not want in us — holiness and the following of Christ.
It is truly possible to become a saint. The only thing holding us back is ourselves. We fear the price. I am not pointing fingers. I include myself in that category. We fear to give 100 percent of ourselves to Christ and in service of the Gospel. But if we could each do it, if even one quarter of us would give ourselves COMPLETELY to God, we would change the world. At least we would change our small corner of the world in western Oregon.
Archbishop’s Sample schedule
Friday, Sept. 19 —Meeting of the Sharing our Faith Board, Pastoral Center, Portland, 10:30 a.m.
Saturday, Sept. 20 — Meeting of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, Pastoral Center, Portland, 9:30 a.m.
Sunday, Sept. 21 — Celebration of the Eucharist, Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows and 90th Anniversity, The Grotto, Portland, Noon
Tuesday, Sept. 23 — Celebration of the Eucharist, St. Therese School, Portland, 9 a.m.
Wednesday, Sept. 24 — Meeting of NABRS Oregon, Our Lady of Peace Retreat Center, Beaverton, 9 a.m.
Thursday, Sept. 25 — Catholic Charities Board Meeting, Clark Family Center, Portland, 4 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 26 — Celebration of the Eucharist and Inauguration of Rev. Mark Poorman, CSC, as President of University of Portland, Chiles Center, Portland 11:45 a.m.
Saturday, Sept. 27 — Luncheon Meeting with State Officers of Knights of Columbus, Portland, 11:30 a.m.
Saturday, Sept. 27 — Celebration of the Eucharist for their Annual Gathering of St. Vincent de Paul, St. Anthony Church, Tigard, 5 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 28 — Celebration of the Eucharist and Dinner for annual gathering with Deacons and their wives, The Grotto, Portland, 4 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 2 — St. Andrew Church Assembly, Portland, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 3-Monday, Oct. 6 — Annual Meeting for the Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulchre
Posted by VOCAL at 7:24 PM
Monday, September 8, 2014
We allude, Venerable Brethren, to many who belong to the Catholic laity, nay, and this is far more lamentable, to the ranks of the priesthood itself, who, feigning a love for the Church, lacking the firm protection of philosophy and theology, nay more, thoroughly imbued with the poisonous doctrines taught by the enemies of the Church, and lost to all sense of modesty, vaunt themselves as reformers of the Church; and, forming more boldly into line of attack, assail all that is most sacred in the work of Christ, not sparing even the person of the Divine Redeemer, whom, with sacrilegious daring, they reduce to a simple, mere man."26
Ever mindful of his humble origin, he stated, “I was born poor, I lived poor, I will die poor.”
He was embarrassed by some of the pomp of the papal court.
“Look how they have dressed me up,” he said in tears to an old friend.
To another, “It is a penance to be forced to accept all these practices. They lead me around surrounded by soldiers like Jesus when he was seized in Gethsemani.”
Pope Pius X His "old" words on an old problem.
Posted by VOCAL at 6:12 PM
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Archbishop Sample Consecrated the Archdiocese of Portland to Our Lady of Fatima. Let's join him this Saturday.
Join the Archdiocese of Portland on these Saturdays- July 5,
Aug. 2, Sept. 6, Oct. 4 and Nov. 1, 2014.
These are suggested, but any five will bless our soul.The Faithful are asked to:
3. Pray the Rosary
4. Meditate for 15 minutes on a mystery of the Rosary.
All of these actions should be offered for the Intention of making Reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
All of these actions should be offered for the Intention of making Reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
The Blessed Mother promised that for those who do this on the First Saturday of five consecutive months, she will assist them at the Hour of Death with all the Graces necessary for Salvation.
Five - First Saturday Devotions to Mary? Why?
It is sometimes asked why Our Lady asked for Communions of reparation on five first Saturdays, instead of some other number. Our Blessed Lord answered that question when He appeared to Sr. Lucia May 29, 1930.
He explained that it was because of five kinds of offenses and blasphemies against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, namely:
1. blasphemies against her Immaculate Conception,
2. against her perpetual virginity,
3. against the divine and spiritual maternity of Mary,
4. blasphemies involving the rejection and dishonoring of her images,
5. and the neglect of implanting in the hearts of children a knowledge and love of this Immaculate Mother.
(A holy card of Our Lady of Fatima in the home will remind us of this Consecration of our Archdiocese.)
Posted by VOCAL at 6:44 PM
Monday, September 1, 2014
Like the Santa Rosa Catholic Diocese itself, the teachers of St. Vincent de Paul High School seem to be backing away from a controversial contract clause suggested by Bishop Robert Vasa in 2013.
That spring, Bishop Vasa proposed a “morals addendum” for Catholic school teacher contracts, which would have required educators to sign a document stating that they personally accept Catholic doctrine in order to keep their jobs.
Teachers at St. Vincent de Paul High School who spoke to the Argus-Courier last year said they felt the new contract would force teachers to adopt traditional Catholic beliefs as their own.
The addendum would have required teachers to believe, among other things, that contraception, abortion, homosexual marriage and euthanasia are “modern errors” that “gravely offend human dignity.” (VOCAL highlighted text)
With many local teachers opposed to the addendum, there was a sense of relief when Bishop Vasa decided to postpone the edict until the spring of 2015, giving teachers time to find work elsewhere if they didn’t agree with its terms.
With a prolonged timeline and a shifted focus on religious education programs, it seems that the “morals addendum” is out of sight and out of mind for the time being.
Brian O’Neel, communications director for the Santa Rosa Catholic Diocese, said he did not know when the edict would next be discussed with teachers.
“There is no intention to not do this,” O’Neel said. “It will happen at some point, it’s just not going to happen this academic year. We don’t have a definite timeline.”
O’Neel said last year’s effort to enact the addendum was surrounded with confusion over what Bishop Vasa was asking of teachers. Vasa spoke to teachers from Santa Rosa, in an effort to explain why Catholic teachings cannot “be left up to a person’s own discretion.”
“(Bishop Vasa) quickly understood that he had to do a little preparatory work first, so that is still where we stand,” O’Neel said. “He is continuing to speak with educators and administrators so that the groundwork is laid.”
In the meantime, other diocese across the country, such as the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and the Diocese of Oakland, are adopting similar contract language for teachers. As of May, the revised contracts out of Cincinnati forbid practices such as extramarital sex, a gay “lifestyle” and abortions.
That same month, it was reported that several teachers quit their jobs at Oakland’s Bishop O’Dowd High School because of contract language dictating that in their personal lives they must “promote behavior in conformity with the teaching of the Roman Catholic faith in matters of faith and morals.”
O’Neel speculated that the implementation of the new contracts elsewhere may be due to other bishops across the country recognizing “where culture and society are heading.”
“They understand that steps need to be taken in order to safeguard the integrity of how the faith is presented and passed on in our parochial schools,” he said.
O’Neel said the Santa Rosa diocese is focusing on religious education, and currently has a joint effort with the St. Vincent parish to offer educational programs.
(Contact Allison Jarrell at allison.jarrell@argus courier.com)
Posted by VOCAL at 2:30 PM