On February 6, San Francisco’s Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone met with teachers from San Francisco’s archdiocesan high schools to discuss details of a new archdiocesan initiative, which asserts “that Catholic schools – as the first clause states – ‘exist to affirm and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ as held and taught by His Catholic Church.’”
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that before the meeting a group of Catholic high school students demonstrated in the plaza in front of St. Mary’s Cathedral, near to where the meeting was held. The students expressed their opposition to the new initiative. The students were joined and supported by a number of LGBT activists, some of whom attended the protest, and/or weighed in on the protest’s Facebook page.
One was Gregg Cassin, who has led demonstrations in support of same-sex marriage and who has led retreats for students at Notre Dame High School in Belmont. Another was a man named Billy “Equality” Bradford. Also expressing support was Nick Andrade, a prominent parishioner of San Francisco’s Most Holy Redeemer parish and former member of the board of directors at San Francisco’s Catholic Charities. Andrade’s Facebook page says he is “married” to a man named Jim McDermott.
The problems at Bay Area Catholic high schools have been investigated in the pages of California Catholic Daily. From March to May of 2014, CalCatholic ran a multi-part series documenting the presence of same-sex “married” persons, and open homosexuals in the departments of religious education in high schools under the archdiocese of San Francisco. Included in the series was Woodside Priory, whose chair of the department of religious education,
Matthew Nelson, described himself as a “queer bohemian,” and his Facebook page included a picture of Nelson with three members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence at an event promoting same-sex marriage. Nelson either quit or was invited to leave Woodside Priory shortly after the CalCatholic article appeared. Another article investigated Notre Dame de Namur, whose previous director of campus ministry, John Ottersberg, was listed on Bed, Bath, & Beyond’s registry page as having a July 18, 2009 wedding with another man. Ottersberg currently serves in the Campus Ministry at San Francisco’s St. Ignatius College Prep.
Other articles on Notre Dame High School investigated the school’s long-standing relationship with LGBT activist Gregg Cassin who attended Friday’s protest. Another article investigated the sister schools Convent of the Sacred Heart (for girls) and Stuart Hall (for boys). Three of the five teachers of religion at those schools are admitted homosexuals, and a fourth, Ray O’Connor, was for many years the coordinator of lector coordinator at San Francisco’s Most Holy Redeemer parish. In 2011 when a group of students from other parts of the country visited Convent of the Sacred Heart, O’Conner took them on a field trip to Most Holy Redeemer, to the office of the same-sex lobbying group, the Human Rights Campaign, and to the LGBT Museum in San Francisco’s Castro District.
All of those schools, while nominally Catholic, are run by religious orders, and Archbishop Cordileone’s options are limited. But with his new initiative he appears to be working to inoculate the other high schools against what Pope Francis has recently called the “new ideological colonization that tries to destroy the family.”
One homosexual activist commenting on the protest referred to Cordileone as a “dinosaur.”
St. John Bosco, founded the Salesian order, now the second largest men’s order in the Catholic Church. In his famous 1884 letter from Rome, the Magna Carta of Salesian education, Don Bosco wrote, “It is better to run the risk of expelling someone who is innocent than to keep someone who causes others to sin.”
According to the Feb. 9 Catholic Voice, Bishop Michael Barber is instituting a policy similar to San Francisco’s in the diocese of Oakland.