SAN FRANCISCO (CNS) — The San Francisco Archdiocese said the full-page advertisement in the San Francisco Chronicle April 16 urging Pope Francis to oust San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone over morality clauses and other policies “is a misrepresentation of Catholic teaching.”
The ad also is “a misrepresentation of the nature of the teacher contract, and a misrepresentation of the spirit of the archbishop,” the archdiocese said in a statement released the day before the ad’s publication. “The greatest misrepresentation of all is that the signers presume to speak for the Catholic community of San Francisco. They do not.”
Signed by more than 100 local Catholics, the ad is in the form of an open letter to Pope Francis, asking him to replace Archbishop Cordileone with “a leader true to our values and your namesake.”
The letter claims the archbishop has “fostered an atmosphere of division and intolerance,” saying he “coerces educators and staff of our Catholic high schools to accept a morality code which violates individual consciences as well as California labor laws.”
It is referring to proposed new clauses to contracts for teachers in archdiocesan Catholic high schools to further clarify that Catholic schools “exist to affirm and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ as held and taught by his Catholic Church.”
The San Francisco Archdiocese is adding detailed statements of Catholic teaching on sexual morality and religious practice to the faculty and staff handbooks of archdiocesan high schools to take effect in the 2015-16 school year. The statements cover church teaching on abortion, same-sex marriage, artificial contraception, and other tenets of the faith.
The handbook and contract changes reiterate more strongly what archdiocesan officials say is the responsibility of teachers and staff not to contradict Catholic teaching in school and in their public lives.
Signers of the ad said that “teachers, students and parents are overwhelmingly opposed to the archbishop’s proposal and said the “mean-spiritedness” of the proposed language for the faculty handbook “sets a pastoral tone that is closer to persecution than evangelization.”
The ad also claimed the archbishop “disregards advice from his priests” and instead relies on a “tiny group of advisers” recruited from outside the archdiocese.
The San Francisco Archdiocese in its statement said that local church officials have “met with a broad range of stakeholders” and have “engaged in a constructive dialogue on all of the issues raised in this ad. We welcome the chance to continue that discussion.”
On April 16, several Catholics announced formation of a group called SFCatholics.org to support the archbishop. They launched a website with the same name and have planned a family picnic and “Archbishop Cordileone Support Day” May 16.
“It’s truly astonishing that a group of self-proclaimed ‘prominent Catholics’ has become so self-absorbed that they believe they can demand that the Holy Father remove an archbishop because he refuses to sacrifice teaching Catholic values to children in our Catholic schools,” said Eva Muntean, who helped organize the group.
The Chronicle ad “grossly misrepresents the position of the archbishop on critical issues, attempting to suggest that he is at odds with Pope Francis. He is not,” Muntean said in a statement. “Both Pope Francis and Archbishop Cordileone believe in the teaching of the Catholic Church on marriage, life, and human sexuality.”