Dozens of prominent Bay Area Catholic residents have signed a letter to Pope Francis asking for the removal of the San Francisco archbishop.
The letter appeared in a full page ad in San Francisco Chronicle on Thursday, two months after Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone proposed teachers at the four Bay Area archdiocesan high schools sign morality clauses promising to adhere to the Catholic teachings in their professional and public lives.
Teachers and their supporters have long expressed privacy concerns with the morality clauses, as well as fear that the labeling of teachers as “ministers” when the contract was first proposed in February could strip them of their legal rights.
Though Cordileone has since removed the term “minister” from the contract, officials with the San Francisco Archdiocesan Federation of Teachers Local 2240 union said last month that other language still in the contract remains a concern.
The Catholic leaders who signed Thursday’s letter echoed such concerns and highlighted that Cordileone does not appear to align with the Pope’s mission.
Prominent leaders who signed the letter include Catholic school teachers and alumni, attorneys, and school and business leaders, including the father of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who attended Serra High, one of the four archdiocesan high schools.
The letter specifically seeks that Cordileone be replaced because he has isolated himself from the Catholic community.
“Archbishop Cordileone, the way his handbook demonizes lifestyles and calls so many things gravely evil, seems to be out of sync with the new Pope’s stance of tolerance, of diversity, of mercy,” said Clint Reilly, chairman and president of Clinton Reilly Holdings and former chair of the board of Catholic Charities CYO, and a signatory of the letter.
The archdiocese said in statement that despite the letter’s claims, it doesn’t speak for the Catholic community of San Francisco.
“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 statement reads.
“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.”
In February, eight politicians — including state. Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, and assemblymen Phil Ting and David Chiu, also Democrats from San Francisco — also spoke out against the morality clauses proposed by Cordileone.
The lawmakers sent a letter to Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone urging The City’s highest Catholic official to remove language from his proposed faculty handbook and contract that some consider discriminatory.