Sprinklergate: Is it Real, or Is It Politics?

Sprinklergate: Is it Real, or Is It Politics? March 23, 2015

Market Street, San Francisco Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by William Welch https://www.flickr.com/photos/20098477@N02/
Market Street, San Francisco Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by William Welch https://www.flickr.com/photos/20098477@N02/

I’ve been sick as the proverbial dawg these past few days. I managed to put together a couple of posts, but then I fell back into bed and pulled the blankets over my head.

I’m not feeling all that great today, either, but I have roused myself from my coughing and hacking and moaning and complaining long enough to realize that there’s another oddball “scandal” about the Catholic Church leap-frogging around the internet.

From what I gather, a cathedral in San Francisco (of all places) attempted to use a sprinkler system to encourage homeless people to vacate the steps leading into their building. Or some such.

Needless to say, the story has fueled the tanks of Catholic bashers. It’s also brought out quite a few disappointed and sad comments from faithful Catholics, as well. The story seems to be all about whether or not the Catholic Church and the Archbishop of San Francisco should be keel-hauled and sentenced to extinction over Sprinklergate.

I haven’t read too much about a couple of issues that I think are somewhat pertinent.

First, the Archbishop of San Francisco is engaged in a battle over the future of the Catholicism in that great city, i.e., whether or not the Church will be run by its own teachings or by secular authorities and the mob actions of “activists” who don’t agree with those teachings. This particular argument is about homosexuals.

Second, digging up dirt on someone who opposes them is a standard tactic of the gay rights movement. Demands for  civil and human rights for gay people are just. Homosexuals have been subjected to unjust discrimination and violence for a long time.

But that does not justify advancing this cause by denying the human rights of other people. Far too often, the gay rights movement has advanced its cause by the ignoble method of organized and manufactured character assassination of those who oppose it.

Using character assassination as a method of political bullying is an effective tactic. It harms, sometimes destroys, the ability of the person who is attacked to put their ideas forward in a credible manner. It also serves as a warning to anyone who might be inclined to join them that they, too, will be destroyed. In this case, it sends a signal to other bishops to duck and cover or be personally attacked as well.

I’m not going to take a position on Sprinklergate in this post, but I am going to raise a simple question: Is the whole scandal and the sudden media focus on this rather obscure action by the cathedral an example of attacking the Archbishop because he’s standing for Catholic teaching?

I’m not saying that turning the sprinkler system on homeless people to get them to move off the church steps is a good thing. What I’m saying is that the reason it has been so widely reported may very well be politically motivated.

Archbishop Cordileone has been attacked, picketed and and smeared ever since he took office in San Francisco. These attacks are because  he has taught actual Catholic teaching as regards gay marriage. This latest series of attacks are precisely and directly because he has been doing his best to create a Catholic Church in San Francisco (again, of all places) that is actually Catholic.

In a back-handed way, Sprinklergate is a compliment to Archbishop Cordileone. If this is the best his opponents could do, then he must be an honest man.

There are other issues about Sprinklergate which need to be discussed. But that really is the topic for another post.

My point here, dear Catholics, is don’t be so quick to join in with public lynchings of our clergy when those public lynchings are so obviously linked to actions by that clergy to defend the teachings of the Church in a Catholic-bashing world.

Now, I’m going back to coughing and hacking, moaning and complaining. As soon as I feel up to it, I’ll write another post talking about other overlooked issues in Sprinklergate.

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20 responses to “Sprinklergate: Is it Real, or Is It Politics?”

  1. San Francisco is a paradise for homeless. Only place worse is Berkley. You can’t even make people who are camping on your front porch to move. I’m sure this is what has happened. I’ve heard that the or firm opposing the diocese is owned by a vicious man who will say and do anything, even if completely fabricated. Great company these people keep.
    Archbishop Niederauer was a pushover who never stood up to anybody because he was “pastoral.” Now, Abp Cordileone is trying to be Catholic. God Bless Him!
    Btw, maybe the diocese needs to offer free field trips, bus and all, to the campuses of Google and Apple. They have lots of space!

  2. One point worthy of clarification. It is incorrect to state that “These attacks are because he has taught actual Catholic teaching as regards gay marriage.”

    He has been scrutinized and criticized for his actions against the rights of gay people in the state of CA. Not for teaching actual Catholic teaching. No one cares what he does with regard to Catholics. Pretending that all Californians or San Franciscans are Catholics is his error.

  3. When I get my energy back, I’m going to write a whole post on just this issue. I hope you can contain yourself.

    In the meantime, does anyone want to answer this now?

  4. Oh he was a huge backer of prop 8. that was the impetus for backlash and criticism from the gay community (rightfully so!). As for his standards for Catholic schools, he is dealing with internal criticism, not criticism from the gay community. Contrary to many right-wing religious folks, the gays are not responsible for all the ills of society, nor the criticisms of said Abp. But it is always easier to scapegoat a group. It was the catholic school teachers who actually signed a petition against his changes to the contract. Although, I support his changes, I think he just needed to make sure it was clear the contract was not about conducting witchhunts.

  5. Thank you. I hope you feel better. It stinks when we are just completely drained physically and mentally!!! Get well soon.

  6. “He has been scrutinized and criticized for his actions against the rights of gay people in the state of CA. Not for teaching actual Catholic teaching.”
    Abp Cordileone supported Proposition 8. One way the California Constitution is changed is by propositions. That is what the people of California passed THREE TIMES! to define marriage. Seems the rights of the majority of Californians are being stepped on by a very small minority of influential people.
    “No one cares what he does with regard to CatholicS.”
    Is that why there have been demonstrations and vandalism to the Cathedral, Churches and Bishop’s Residence in California? As well as personal attacks, ad hominem attacks on faithful priests and bishops. From the news it certainly looks like there are a lot of very anti-Catholics willing to attack the Church.
    Abp Cordileone has never implied that all Californians are Catholic in any way.
    He is setting an example for Catholic schools for whom he is responsible. There are moral standards.
    It does sound like you just do not agree with Abp Cordileone and the Catholic Church.

  7. Okay, your response is correct and makes sense. It also shows you cannot blame the ills on the gay groups, as the original section I isolated tried to do. Gotta play honestly or not play at all ( at least that is what my catholic school taught me well!).

  8. Fair point. I do not agree with much of what the cardinal says. His actions and statements are not necessarily in agreement with the Church. For instance, in no way would the church endorse dousing the down trodden with water. Just as as example.

  9. No, not when those in the community who oppose the Church have hired a firm with a history of destroying other people’s reputations in order to win disagreements for his clients. I expect the Archbishop to continue on the road he started regardless of the consequences, just as the Christians in the Mideast continue to practice their faith regardless of the consequences. And I expect the other American bishops to do the same.

  10. The Catholic Church teaches the Truth of the Faith in its fullness. I don’t know if you consider yourself a Catholic or not, but we cannot pick and choose doctrines according to personal preference or political expedience.

  11. FW Ken, there are 5 Catholic justices on the Supreme Court, and Anthony Kennedy has consistently voted in favor of gay rights, including decriminalization of sodomy, which is a sin according to Catholics.

    If it had been a straight, Catholic judge (more of those than gay judges!!), and he had voted AGAINST same-sex marriage, would you be accusing him of acting in his self interest, as he is Catholic and believes it is a sin?

    Why accuse the gay judge of acting in self-interest when you don’t apply that standard to Catholic justices? You might be much more homophobic than you realize. Homophobia is not just gay-bashing … it’s more unstated assumptions, not realizing you are not applying the same logic or scrutiny to your words, arguments, and actions.

  12. What sometimes bothers me is the mindset of taking all criticism as some sort of “secular” attack against the Catholic Church. If I were to ask you, FW Ken, is there anything at all about the contemporary Church that bothers you … is it all peachy? All good? Or anything you are willing to submit is wrong and should be discussed honestly and publicly?

    Why cannot there by teachers (nearly 80% of them) who are Catholic but believe that the revisions to the educational clauses are misguided? It might be, for instance, that they think homosexuality is wrong, but they see no need to constantly draw attention to it because the proscriptions are already clear. Or there might be a number of complex motivations, as happens with any group.

    Let’s not be dishonest. This is a conversation taking place primarily within Catholicism now. Most gay people don’t particularly care about churches, and I suspect if you got out more and got to know them, you’d realize they are going hiking, dating, working, bringing up families … and completely insulated from the sometimes asinine debates that go on within Catholic circles.

    But as the recent declarations of the Presbyterian Church make clear, this is a debate happening WITHIN religious communities. And why not? Christian mothers and fathers have gay sons and daughters, gay relatives, gay colleagues. This influences them too, when they come into contact and see what kind of people gay people are, they come to their own conclusions about whether the kids are being brought up well, and so on. So there is no need to posit some form of “LGBT group” working in the shadowy background. Why not engage honestly with your Catholic brothers and sisters who think differently from you do? Are you capable of doing that?