8 State Lawmakers Ask S.F. Archbishop to Rethink Teacher Morality Clauses

Thursday, February 19, 2015
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone

Eight California Democrats, five from the Assembly and three from the Senate, wrote a letter to San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone asking him to reconsider his recent inclusion of morality clauses in a handbook at four Bay Area Catholic high schools in the area.

A handbook containing the restrictions, which take effect August 1, “effectively removes civil rights protections guaranteed to all Californians,” the legislators wrote.  The church would require around 500 administrators, teachers and other staff to formally agree that “adultery, masturbation, fornication, the viewing of pornography and homosexual relations” are “gravely evil.”

The 2,000-word section in the handbook also specifically cites the church’s opposition to abortion, contraception, homosexuality, artificial insemination, cloning and same-sex marriage. That would seem to put the book at odds with Pope Francis, who has urged church leaders to back off divisive subjects like same-sex marriage.

The archbishop also wants to take advantage of a legal loophole and reclassify teachers as ministers in employee contracts in order to dodge anti-discrimination laws. That will be subject to negotiations, Lisa Dole, president of the San Francisco Archdiocesan Federation of Teachers, told the San Francisco Chronicle.

The letter, written by Assemblymen Phil Ting and Kevin Mullin, was signed by all the lawmakers who represent communities in the counties of San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin. The others are: Assemblymen Richard Gordon, David Chiu and Mark Levine, and Senators Mark Leno, Jerry Hill and Mike McGuire.

The legislators warned that the morality clauses would make it hard to find good educators to work at the schools and emphasized that the archbishop’s actions “would be illegal for any other employer.” They also didn’t think much of the “divisive tone” of the archbishop’s handbook update and worried how it would reflect on what is arguably the most socially liberal region in the country.

“We are known and beloved around the world for our celebration of diversity, our political activism, and our unwavering commitment to ensure that all people may live with dignity as equals,” they wrote.

The archbishop is NOT known for an “unwavering commitment” to those ideals. He has a slightly different agenda. Cordileone was named to his post by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012 after serving as bishop in Oakland for three years. He issued an ultimatum to the national Catholic Association for Lesbian and Gay Ministry, based in Oakland, that he would declare the group “not authentically Catholic” if it didn’t endorse traditional theology within a year.

He was also a prime mover behind the anti-gay marriage Proposition 8 in 2008. Prop. 8 campaign manager Frank Shubert says Cordileone was instrumental in rounding up major donations for the successful political campaign when it was stumbling and influenced other religious leaders in the cause.

The archbishop told the Los Angeles Times the only way gays and lesbians could remain in the church’s good standing was to stop having sex. That would disqualify a fair number of his flock from receiving the sacrament of Holy Communion, central to life as a Catholic.

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

California Lawmakers Urge Archbishop to Nix Morality Clauses (by Olga R. Rodriguez Associated Press)

Lawmakers Urge S.F. Archbishop to Withdraw Teacher Morality Clauses (by Lee Romney, Los Angeles Times)

S.F. Archbishop’s Morality Clauses Run Counter to Pope’s Message (by Jill Tucker, San Francisco Chronicle)

New S.F. Archbishop Is Anti-Gay Crusader Who Led Fight for Prop. 8 (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)

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