Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, archbishop of San Francisco, has issued a measured, respectful, yet strong response to an open letter from eight California legislators. The legislators had demanded that the archbishop revoke an archdiocesan policy which requires teachers in Catholic schools to be respectful of Church teachings.
Archbishop Cordileone is known as a lover of the Church, and a staunch defender of Catholic teaching. In his role as chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops‘ Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage, his mission has been to preserve the definition of marriage as the union between one man and one woman. A redefinition of marriage to include homosexual couples, he asserts, would be bad for children, detrimental to society, and dangerous for religious freedom. He has been outspoken in his opposition to abortion.
The current crisis began when the archbishop issued a new handbook for Catholic schools which reemphasized the expectation that teachers in Catholic schools, whether Catholic or not, must support Catholic teaching and may not engage in, or give public support to, abortion, same-sex marriage, contraception or in vitro fertilization.
Eight liberal legislators in California objected to the morality clause, claiming that it denied archdiocesan employees their civil rights. The eight legislators are Phil Ting, Kevin Mullin, Richard Gordon, Mark Leno, David Chiu, Jerry Hill, Marc Levine and Mike McGuire. In a public letter to Archbishop Cordileone, the legislators claimed that archdiocesan employees were being denied their civil rights. The letter said:
“Among these rights are the freedom to choose who to love and marry, how to plan a family, and what causes or beliefs to support through freedom of speech and association.”
On February 19, Archbishop Cordileone released his response, outlining the reasons why he continues to support the morality clause in teacher contracts at Catholic schools. In the letter, which is available at the Archdiocese of San Francisco website, Archbishop Cordileone said in part:
First of all, I always believe that it is important, before making a judgment on a situation or anyone’s action, that one first obtain as complete and accurate information as possible. To this end, a number of documents and videos giving accurate and more complete information about this contentious issue are available on the website of our Archdiocese. I would encourage you to avail yourselves of these resources, as they will help to clear up a lot of misinformation being circulated about it (such as, for example, the falsehood that the morality clauses apply to the teachers’ private life).
The next thing I would like to mention is actually a question: would you hire a campaign manager who advocates policies contrary to those that you stand for, and who shows disrespect toward you and the Democratic Party in general? On the other hand, if you knew a brilliant campaign manager who, although a Republican, was willing to work for you and not speak or act in public contrary to you or your party – would you hire such a person? If your answer to the first question is “no,” and to the second question is “yes,” then we are actually in agreement on the principal point in debate here.
Now let’s say that this campaign manager you hired, despite promises to the contrary, starts speaking critically of your party and favorably of your running opponent, and so you decide to fire the person. Would you have done this because you hate all Republicans outright, or because this individual, who happens to be a Republican, violated the trust given to you and acted contrary to your mission? If the latter, then we are again in agreement on this principle.
My point is: I respect your right to employ or not employ whomever you wish to advance your mission. I simply ask the same respect from you.
Thank you, Archbishop Cordileone, for your clear direction and inspired leadership. May God continue to bless your work.