SAN FRANCOSICO, April 16, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The attack on San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone for preserving Catholic teaching reached a fever pitch on Thursday, as a group of disgruntled Catholics took out a full-page ad in the San Francisco Chronicle asking Pope Francis to oust him.
The ad pleading for the pontiff to remove Archbishop Cordileone, claiming he has “fostered an atmosphere of division and intolerance.”
“Holy Father, Please Provide Us With a Leader True to Our Values and Your Namesake,” the ad said. “Please Replace Archbishop Cordileone.”
Archbishop Cordileone has been assailed since taking steps in February to strengthen the Catholic identity of archdiocesan schools by clarifying the already long-existing expectation for faculty and staff to uphold Catholic principles.
The April 16 Chronicle ad said the language the archbishop wants included in faculty handbooks – which is taken directly from the Catholic catechism – is “absolute mean-spiritedness” and “sets a pastoral tone that is closer to persecution than evangelization.”
It also accuses the archbishop of threatening teachers with their jobs and of using coercion in adding the language.
The signatories stated that Archbishop Cordileone is at odds with Pope Francis' allegedly non-judgmental view of homosexuality.
“Instead of your famous words 'Who Am I to Judge,' Archbishop Cordileone repeatedly labels the behavior of our fellow brothers and sisters (and their children) as 'gravely evil,'” the ad said. “The City of Saint Francis deserves an Archbishop true to our values and to your teachings.”
It goes on to accuse the archbishop of appointing a pastor who “marginalizes women” and who “inexplicably distributed to elementary school children an age-inappropriate and potentially abusive, sexually-oriented pamphlet,” because the pastor had moved to preserve the use of all-male altar servers at the parish and used an Examination of Conscience pamphlet for students receiving the Sacrament of Confession.
It states “the Archdiocese of San Francisco is threatened by Archbishop Cordileone’s single-issue agenda and cannot survive, let alone thrive and grow under his supervision.”
The archdiocese responded quickly and firmly, condemning a preview copy of the ad in an April 15 statement:
The advertisement is a misrepresentation of Catholic teaching, a misrepresentation of the nature of the teacher contract, and a misrepresentation of the spirit of the Archbishop. The greatest misrepresentation of all is that the signers presume to speak for “the Catholic Community of San Francisco.” They do not.
The Archdiocese has met with a broad range of stakeholders. Together, we have engaged in a constructive dialogue on all of the issues raised in this ad. We welcome the chance to continue that discussion.
The ad contained a list of signatories, including a retired executive director of Catholic Charities, a former city commissioner, a former head of the University of San Francisco Board of Trustees, various members of archdiocesan parishes, business leaders, and other professionals.
A report from the Chronicle said the ad would have cost tens of thousands of dollars, at a minimum.
The discontented Catholics behind the ad first deliberated running it weeks ago, it said, holding off while “they appealed to church higher-ups, including the papal representative in Washington, to address their concerns,” it said. When they did not prevail in their efforts, they went public.
“It seems he is going in a direction that is completely opposite where Pope Francis is going and creating an atmosphere of complete intolerance,” said attorney Frank Pitre, who signed the letter together with his wife, Diane. “Hopefully, this is going to get someone’s attention.”
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The archbishop “is just causing a lot of discord, especially with the young people in the diocese,” said Larry Nibbi, who also signed the letter. “The crux of our worry is that the faithful are going to become very disenchanted and stop going to church because they don’t like the message, and the message is not the way they lead their lives.”
The ad joins an intensive assault on the archbishop in the last two months, including protests, pressure from California state lawmakers to back off on promoting Catholic principles, threatened legal action from the city, and the hiring by a PR pundit.
Archbishop Cordileone has continued throughout to meet the defiance by explaining Roman Catholic teaching and the purpose of Catholic schools, emphasizing that no one is being targeted by the strengthening of Catholic identity.