The new initiative to re-Catholicize the high schools in the archdiocese of San Francisco has forced the fault lines in the local Catholic Church onto the front page. Opposition to the initiative has been publicized in the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Mateo Daily Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Salt Lake City Tribune, all local TV stations, and the National Catholic Reporter. The initiative even reached the Daily Mail (UK), whose headline “Gay Rights Row” identified the real issue: the archbishop’s attempt to stop what Pope Francis called the “ideological colonization” by homosexual activists and the proponents of “gender theory.”
The Mail quoted Lisbeth Melendez Rivera of the Human Rights Campaign saying “the ‘moral clauses’ proposed by Archbishop Cordileone ‘stand in stark relief to the message of inclusion being promoted by Pope Francis’”—a statement showing either ignorance or deliberate misinterpretation of the Holy Father’s statements denouncing counterfeit marriage. Matthew Bajko, writing in the homosexualist Bay Area Reporter was better informed or more honest, writing “So while to us Cordileone’s position is completely wrong, it’s entirely consistent with the Vatican…”
On February 9 CalCatholic reported (“Gays herd highschoolers to St. Mary’s”) on a protest in front of St. Mary’s Cathedral by those opposed to the initiative. A second protest is scheduled at St. Mary’s on Ash Wednesday, February 18, at 5:30 pm. Postings to the Facebook event page for the protest indicate that the archbishop’s initiative is seen by gay activists nationwide as a threat to their agenda—as was shown by the comments from the Human Rights Campaign. One of the major voices behind the protests is Gregg Cassin, who has organized protests in support of same-sex “marriage” and who is a regular speaker at Notre Dame de Namur High School in Belmont, California. Casssin wrote on the Facebook page: “THIS MOVEMENT is for every LGBT student that goes to these schools -the teachers -yes, the families -yes, the staff –yes…” and “Say no to the bigotry & hate-speech.”
Cassin was joined by a man named Todd Tif Fernandez, who wrote on the Facebook event page: “We need to proclaim that teaching LGBT children to hate themselves is child abuse, and it violates explicitly the right to identity and equality, freedom of expression, and right to safety. Children – learn and rise up for your rights! And LGBT Adults, please rise up for the rights of our LGBT Children. There should be NO SAFE HAVEN for religious abuse of LGBT children. None. Not one school. Not one church…” Fernandez’s bio in the Huntington Post describes him as a “a volunteer activist working to accelerate the end of legal discrimination against LGBT America” and says he works “in association with GetEqual, Out4Immigration, ActOnPrinciples, the New York Immigration Coalition, Queer Rising, Queer OWS Caucus, eQualityGiving, and the Radical Faeries.”
More worrisome for Catholic parents with children in archdiocesan schools, are objections from teachers and administrators from the schools, who see the archbishop’s instruction that they simply not publicly advocate positions in opposition to the Catholic Church as threatening.
Abi Basch, who teaches social studies at Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep, was “one of the promoters” of the February 6 protest, according to Catholic San Francisco. Basch’s Facebook page is filled with organizations such as the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the Human Rights Campaign, Abrazo Queer Tango, Harvard’s LGBTQ Policy Journal, Olivia Travel “THE travel company for lesbians”, etc. etc.
The February 9 National Catholic Reporter quoted Elizabeth Purcell, an English teacher who has been at St. Ignatius College Preparatory in San Francisco for 19 years, “The language that the archbishop has laid out is unacceptable,” she said. “It’s exclusive. It’s hateful. It denies everything we teach our students about inclusion…. The kids at St. Ignatius are very upset. They’re afraid it’ll lead to indoctrination, not education.”
The newspaper quoted a text from an unnamed official at an independent Catholic high school: “More than anything, I am saddened by Archbishop Cordileone’s overall approach,” she wrote. “It’s Pharisaic to say the least — and his comments about trying to be with the people are simply empty words.”
Not all objected. Father Mark Doherty, the chaplain of Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep and a graduate of the school, told the Reporter he supported the archbishop’s initiative: “Catholic school teachers bear the responsibility — at a bare minimum — to conduct their professional and public lives, in both word and deed, in such a way as to not present a contrary witness. The new language to be introduced in the faculty handbook is meant to be an aide to faculty members. By clarifying what exactly the Church teaches on neuralgic points of human sexuality and religious practice, the new language … can help faculty members direct the course of their professional and public conduct in such a way as to not flagrantly contradict the Church’s stated mission. This is especially true in an age and region where the prevailing cultural trends promote an often-times harmful vision of spirituality and sexuality that hinders and threatens human flourishing.’”
One school parent, who supports the archbishop, and who asked not to be named, said of those opposing the initiative “At least now we know who the serpents are.”
This story comes from a Feb. 17 email sent to Cal Catholic from a Northern Calif. correspondent.