Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone has stepped out in faith and justice and in defense of Catholic high school students’ rights to be educated according to Catholic doctrine. His goal was perfectly enunciated to a recent gathering of Catholic high school teachers:
In the end, our Catholic schools exist to help young people attain holiness in their lives, that is, to become saints. An outstanding career is not a sign of having reached or even drawn near to the goal. Holiness is extraordinary, but it is usually achieved in ordinary circumstances. The first place in which that happens is in the context of one’s vocation. Fidelity and perseverance in one’s vocation is a sign of growth in holiness.
Just prior to giving this talk, Cordileone had revamped the faculty handbook for his archdiocesan teachers. Fox News reported: “The document states all administrators, faculty and staff, including non-Catholics, will be required to refrain from saying or doing anything publicly that contradicts Church doctrine.” That is a pretty consistent message. Once a prelate of the Catholic Church sets forth guidance with such clarity and love for truth it should follow that parents and students, not to mention teachers, should be elated and grateful that their shepherd is actually guiding them toward Christ and His will for them in their lives.
But not so fast!
On February 6, just days after the archbishop revamped the faculty handbook, a protest consisting of about 100 people was held outside the cathedral in San Francisco. Their point was to publicly voice disagreement with Archbishop Cordileone’s “move to require teachers at four Catholic high schools to lead their public lives inside the classroom and out in accordance with Church teachings on homosexuality, birth control and other hot-button issues.”
On Friday, February 13, the archbishop met with “hundreds of teachers” to answer their questions and to set the record straight. No media were allowed into this meeting, but someone who was in attendance recorded the whole thing. As a result, it is reported that Cordileone said, “A teacher could face punishment or dismissal for ‘escorting a woman into an abortion clinic, handing out contraception to students, or for being a member of a white supremacist group.’”
Just four days later, certainly by no coincidence, eight of California’s legislators wrote a letter to Cordileone expressing their hope that the archbishop would withdraw the new guidelines for teachers. The Los Angeles Times reported, “The letter to Cordileone from five members of the Assembly and three state senators said the new conditions for employment at four high schools run by the archdiocese ‘conflict with settled areas of law and foment a discriminatory environment in the communities we serve.’” In other words, the lawmakers were poking their collective finger in the archbishop’s eye suggesting that he had no authority to set standards for educators employed by the archdiocese to teach in accord with the guidelines established by their employer. The archbishop responded to the eight in a brilliant letter, closing with these words: “I respect your right to employ or not employ whomever you wish to advance your mission. I simply ask the same respect from you.”
It is crystal clear that the archbishop intends to consistently defend Catholic teaching in matters of morality and otherwise regardless of the public outcry, including pressure from teachers’ unions and politicians. We praise God for that and we encourage you to do the same. Please communicate your gratitude to this brave shepherd, applauding his efforts to bring the lost sheep home to Christ.
• Pray for Archbishop Cordileone
• Communicate your gratitude to him directly:
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone
One Peter Yorke Way
San Francisco, CA 94109
Telephone: (415) 614-5500
• Become familiar with his message on education that is commensurate with Catholic doctrine and pass it on.
BRAVO Archbishop Cordileone! We love you! We commend you and your fellow bishops who have over the past year acted likewise. These men include:
• Bishop Michael Barber, Diocese of Oakland, California
• Archbishop Dennis Schnurr, Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Ohio
• Bishop Frederick Campbell, Diocese of Columbus, Ohio
• Bishop Larry Silva, Diocese of Honolulu, Hawaii
• Bishop Robert Vasa, Diocese of Santa Rosa, California