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Lawmakers pressure San Francisco archbishop to back off effort to uphold Catholic teaching in schools

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San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone speaks to the U.S. Bishops at their fall plenary assembly in Baltimore on Nov. 11, 2013.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, February 19, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Eight San Francisco-area lawmakers have inserted themselves into operations of the local Catholic archdiocese by sending a letter pressuring San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone to retract his efforts affirming the expectation for school staff to uphold Church teaching.

In the latest dig at Archbishop Cordileone for his defense of Catholic principles, five State Assembly members and three senators representing the areas of the four high schools administered by the archdiocese told the archbishop his efforts conflict with settled law, foment a discriminatory environment, violate employees’ civil rights, send an alarming message of intolerance to youth, infringe upon personal freedoms, and strike a divisive tone.

California lawmakers Phil Ting, Kevin Mullin, Richard Gordon, Mark Leno, David Chiu, Jerry Hill, Mark Levine, and Mike McGuire urged the archbishop in their letter to withdraw proposed clauses to teacher contracts that affirm Catholic teaching, and questioned the reason for reclassifying school employees as ministers, contending it discriminates against the teachers and removes their civil rights.  

“Among these rights are the freedom to choose who to love and marry, how to plan a family, and what causes or beliefs to support through freedom of speech and association,” the group said. “The narrow exception for ‘ministers’ in federal anti-discrimination law was never intended to be a tool for discrimination.”

Marriage has been at the center of the defiance to Archbishop Cordileone’s measures to sustain Catholic identity in San Francisco high schools, along with contraception and abortion.

The archdiocese announced the new proposed clauses to teacher contracts earlier this month and said as well that statements on sexual morality and religious practice from the Catechism of the Catholic Church will be added to faculty and staff handbooks. The archbishop said his intent with the measures was providing more clarity on the Catholic faith.

The teacher contract additions and passages on Church teaching simply affirm the long-established condition of employment that Catholic school faculty and staff uphold Church teaching. And while Archbishop Cordileone has stressed the effort is not meant to target anyone, he has met with reproach and resistance.

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In addition to the four high schools the archdiocese administers, it has 10 others in its jurisdiction that are either private or run by religious orders.

The archbishop is chair of the US Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, and has been a firm defender of marriage, often drawing drawing ire from liberal corners.

Pro-abortion and pro-homosexual Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, along with other liberal critics, chastised Archbishop Cordileone for taking part in the 2013 March for Marriage. The archbishop responded that he was required as a bishop to proclaim the truth.

Some teachers and families have protested his move to hold up Church teaching and identity in San Francisco high schools.

Democrat Assemblymember Phil Ting, who produced the letter to Archbishop Cordileone along with Democrat Assemblymember Kevin Mullin, told the Telegraph Herald Online that the archbishop’s efforts imposed injustice and they need to be thwarted.

"Injustice must be confronted, no matter the source. Our society is based on the principle that we are all created equally,” Ting said. “Any novel legal maneuvers to impose injustice must be stopped."

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