Calling for the status of teachers to be raised to that of doctors and lawyers - and backed by similar pay - Cardinal Hume said a teacher's success could not be measured by pupils' test scores or exam results.
"What matters much more is the impact the teacher has on the child as a whole person. That surely is a very difficult thing to measure," he told a London conference of Christian church leaders on teacher recruitment, organised by the Teacher Training Agency. The Catholic Church runs one in ten secondary schools.
Appraisal was important, he said. "But is it desirable for teachers with similar responsibilities, of the same age, seniority and experience to be rewarded differently? Personally I have my doubts."
Cardinal Hume, a former head of Ampleforth school in north Yorkshire, said teachers had been overburdened with change and bureaucracy.
Margaret Smart, director of the Catholic education service, called the performance criteria too mechanistic. "They miss the essence of education."
Cardinal Hume's view that it was time to "rediscover pride in the vocation of teaching" was echoed by the Church of England's response to the Green Paper.