It’s a sign of the times that the Catholic archbishop’s idea of the most gay-friendly city in the country, standing firm on the practice of sex, is making headlines. There’s been a whole media war going on in the last month since Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone lowered the boom, making it clear how he expects Catholic high school teachers to behave.
First, a bit of history: The San Francisco Chronicle outlined its new requirements in a simple post on February 3:
The conservative Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco has crafted a new document for Catholic high school teachers and staff clarifying that sex outside marriage, same-sex relationships, pornography viewing and masturbation are “gravely wrong”.
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s document applies to faculty and staff at four Catholic high schools: Riordan and Sacred Heart in San Francisco, Marin Catholic in Kentfield and Serra High School in San Mateo. It states that administrators, faculty and staff “affirm and believe” controversial statements, which will become part of the faculty handbook.
The document goes on to say that the marriage is between “one man and one woman,” despite California law allowing same-sex marriages. He also notes that sperm donation, the use of a surrogate mother and other forms of “artificial reproductive technologies” are also seriously evil.
The document notes that while not all school staff are Catholic, they are “expected to portray themselves as effective and visible professional participants and supporters of a truly Catholic education.” Those who are not Catholics “should abstain” from participating in organizations that “defend issues or causes contrary to the teachings of the Church”.
Apparently, this is news for some of the 317 teachers affected by this rule, although you have to wonder what planet they went to not know where the Catholic Church stands on these issues. But some Catholic schools have such doctrinal covenants and some do not. Apparently, this document is new.
Then, Cordileone held a closed meeting on February 6 with teachers to explain his side of the story.
A teacher could be punished or fired for ‘escorting a woman to an abortion clinic, distributing contraceptives to students or being a member of a white supremacist group,’ Cordileone said, according to a recording made by a person present at the meeting. of the question-and-answer session that followed a morning mass for the school staff. The media were banned from attending.
The team that produced this article obtained a slew of quotes from students and parents standing outside the closed-door meeting – all opposed to the Archbishop – but found only one person (of the 444,000 Catholics in the Archdiocese), and that an 86- year-old woman, who supported Cordileone.
Think about it now. It shouldn’t be that hard to find Orthodox Catholics in the city. Ignatius Press is based there and Joseph Fessio, its very conservative founder, is generally content to chat with the media.
At the time when the the Chronicle revisited the situation on February 22, there was an online petition signed by more than 6,000 people opposing the updated manual, a decision by the teachers’ union to negotiate its language, and an open letter from eight California lawmakers decrying Cardileone’s “intolerance message”. ”
Despite the fact that the use of the “strict moral code” in the title is problematic, the article gives equal weight to Cordileone’s point of view in the words of his colleague, Bishop Robert Vasa of Santa Rosa, who has declared:
“The shock and surprise that the church has standards and actually enforces them shouldn’t happen,” Vasa said. “Of course you need a code of ethics. Look at UPS. They have strict dress codes, hair codes, professional codes of conduct. Why should the church be any different?”
Cordileone then appeared before the the chronicleof the February 24 editorial board to explain that he was not going to spy in people’s rooms and suggested that he was backing down from his previous position.
Cordileone said he had no intention of invading privacy. The purpose of his guidelines, he said, is to ensure that the behavior of his teachers and the examples they set in public do not contradict fundamental Catholic principles – which condemn same-sex marriage, abortion and birth control.
In other words, it is a battle to defend doctrine. Journalists, of course, don’t have to support doctrines (the folks at GetReligion keep saying this), but they do need to accurately cover both sides of these debates.
The diocese disputed this piece and released its own statement disagreeing with the the Chronicletake in charge. The archbishop did not repeal or change anything, he said.
Now I have covered all these articles in order to note that The ChronicleCoverage is a model of propriety compared to some outdoor media in other elite ZIP codes. The article that the Los Angeles Times ran on A1 was outraged.
San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone sparked a protest last summer when he ignored calls from public officials to cancel plans to march in Washington, DC, against same-sex marriage.
Now Cordileone has sparked further outrage in the liberal Bay Area by imposing morality clauses on teachers, staff and administrators at the four high schools under his control in San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo counties.
Note the editorial language: “ignoring pleas”, “promoting new outrage”, “imposing morality clauses”, etc. Yes, definitely, it’s a throwback to the dark ages.
So The New York Times weighed in to state that the issue is “shaking San Francisco.” The leading newspaper offered a perfect blast of Kellerism and did not name a single local supporter of the archbishop.
Some Catholics fought back, and there is an interesting story there. Catholic News Agency wrote that some parents have hired a major San Francisco PR firm – one with a colorful and complex history – to go after Cordileone. A piece to National exam noted the same, saying opponents are “calling the big guns to fire on the Archdiocese of San Francisco.”
What no one reported was that no one forced any of these teachers to work in a Catholic school. In other words, this is another battle over the rights of voluntary associations, defined by doctrine. It’s a big problem nationwide and it’s getting worse.
Meanwhile, parochial schools often pay far less than public schools, so it’s often a labor of love for those who work there. Surely the employees knew that regardless of their sexual practices, they were expected to at least publicly adhere to Catholic teaching in their classrooms or at least not destroy those doctrines? If not, then why didn’t they know?