Local Catholics stand against archbishop

Amid continuing controversy over proposed additions to the faculty handbook for Bay Area-based Catholic schools, a group of prominent Bay Area Catholics has called on Pope Francis to remove San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone.

In a letter to the pope printed Thursday as a full-page¬†advertisement in the San Francisco Chronicle, the letter’s signatories, which includes prominent San Francisco business leaders, teachers and attorneys, wrote:

“Upon threat of losing their jobs, he coerces educators and staff in our Catholic high schools to accept a morality code which violates individual consciences as well as California labor laws.”

At issue is proposed language for the faculty handbook warning that homosexual relations and other sexual activities outside of marriage are “gravely evil.” If adopted for the 2015-16 school year, the handbook would specify, “all extra-marital sexual relationships are gravely evil and that these include adultery, masturbation, fornication, the viewing of pornography and homosexual relations.”

Several Bay Area lawmakers wrote a separate letter to the Archdiocese in February taking issue with a proposed contract clause that would classify teachers as ministers. Such language, they warned, would provide the church exemptions from federal anti-discrimination laws in dealing with teachers, potentially using their personal lives as grounds for dismissal.

Cordileone said in a letter to teachers in February that the intention of the revised language is not to threaten the jobs of the 315 teachers working at four Catholic schools in San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo counties.

Instead, Cordileone said he sought to clarify the Archdiocese position on controversial issues in the face of:

“… the tremendous pressure the contemporary culture places on everyone to conform to a certain agenda at variance with, and often aggressively so, our Christian understanding of the human person and God’s purpose in creation.”

The teachers would not be required to hold particular beliefs or live a particular lifestyle, Cordileone said, but he expects them to uphold strict Catholic beliefs in the classroom as a matter of professional responsibility.

In response to the published letter calling for Cordileone’s removal, the Archdiocese released a statement today saying:

“The advertisement is a misrepresentation of Catholic teaching, a misrepresentation of the nature of the teacher contract, and a misrepresentation of the spirit of the Archbishop.”

The Archdiocese statement goes on to say the letter’s signatories should not presume to speak for the Catholic community of San Francisco.