The following comes from a March 12 story on Catholic News Agency.
Amid a PR campaign and protests against Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s attempt to clarify Catholic teaching in the San Francisco schools, those who support the archbishop say their voices are not being heard.
“People are afraid to speak up because most of their colleagues oppose the additions to the handbook and because of just how disturbingly negative yet powerful the voices of opposition are,” a Catholic teacher who has worked at an archdiocesan high school for several years told CNA. “The media campaign against the archbishop has also caused fear among his supporters.”
His words were echoed by a former teacher of theology now living in Marin County, who asked not to be identified by name. She said that some of the archbishop’s supporters are concerned they will face “defamation of character and ostracism.”
“I believe the archbishop’s new additions to the Catholic high school handbooks are coming from a place of love and responsibility and not from hate, contempt or intolerance,” she said. “I am not surprised that he continues to be personally and politically attacked. It has never been easy to be Catholic and the teachings are challenging to many, but once understood and prayerfully engaged, their truth, beauty and goodness are unparalleled.”
The San Francisco archdiocese on Feb. 3 announced that explanations of Catholic teaching, as found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and other church documents, would be added to the faculty and staff handbooks for its four high schools. The archdiocese said the changes to the handbook did not contain anything new but were intended to “clarify existing expectations that Catholic teachers in their professional and public lives uphold Catholic teaching.”
Much of the media coverage surrounding the changes focused on the handbook’s expectations that teachers not publicly contradict Catholic teaching on sexual morality and abortion.
The former theology teacher told CNA that the handbook discusses tenets of the Catholic faith that are “often misconstrued, confused and opposed in today’s culture.”
“Without clearly stating them, how can you expect the staff members to effectively understand and carry out the integrity of the mission?” she asked.
Some local politicians have threatened legal action against the archdiocese, while the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a resolution critical of the handbook changes. Over 350 employees, about 80 percent of the staff and faculty at the archdiocese’s four Catholic high schools, signed a petition against the handbook additions. Students, teachers and parents have also engaged in several protests.
Jim Jordan, an organizer of the petition and a teacher at Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep, told CBS SF that the handbook language has a “judgmental context” that undermines Catholic education’s mission and “the inclusive, diverse and welcoming community we prize at our schools.”
CNA’s source in the archdiocesan schools had a different view of the controversy.
“How ironic is it that those who support strengthening Catholic identity are made to be the problem?” he asked. He lamented that the petition referred to Catholic teaching as “harmful” and “hurtful” and was publicized via school e-mail.
The teacher, who did not want to be identified by name, said he was saddened to see “such misguided anger directed at the archbishop” and frustrated that so many teachers lacked “a shared vision of ministry….”