Catholic Donors Attack S.F. Archbishop Cordileone

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu
AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

On Thursday, proving that the attractions of an increasingly secular society seem more important than the tenets of traditional religion, over 100 prominent Roman Catholic donors and church members wrote an open letter to the Pope that ran as a full-page ad in the San Francisco Chronicle condemning staunch traditionalist San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone for fostering “an atmosphere of division and intolerance,” and calling on Pope Francis to replace him.

Cordileone has always championed traditional Catholic doctrine, but the letter was provoked by his request that high school teachers and staff within the Catholic schools within his diocese sign a morality clause that espouses basic Catholic doctrine. The language in the clause upset the group, as Cordileone wrote that sex outside of marriage and homosexual relations were “gravely evil.” As CBS San Francisco reported, the archdiocese felt that their mission was to make clear that Catholic schools “exist to affirm and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ as held and taught by his Catholic Church.” The archdiocese pointed out that the statements they promulgated were taken from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The letter-writers called Cordileone’s efforts mean-spirited, and said his clause “sets a pastoral tone that is closer to persecution than evangelization.” The letter states that he selected a pastor for Star of the Sea parish in the Richmond District “who marginalizes women’s participation in the church” by barring girls from altar service and who gave elementary-school children a pamphlet that asked if they had engaged in masturbation, homosexual relations or had an abortion. Another complaint stated Cordileone relied on “a tiny group of advisers recruited from outside (the) diocese and estranged from their own religious orders” instead of his own priests and retired priests. A further criticism labeled Cordileone as a threat to the archdiocese because of his “single-issue agenda.”

The archdiocese immediately responded by releasing a statement saying the ad was “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.”

Signers of the letter included Brian Cahill, the retired executive director of Catholic Charities; former city commissioner Lou Giraudo; retired Swinerton Builders Chairman David Grubb; former mayoral candidate Clint Reilly and his wife, Janet’ attorney Michael Kelly, and Charles Geschke, the former head of the University of San Francisco Board of Trustees.

In a comment that revealed that the numbers of adherents mean more than the tenets of the faith, Nibbi Brothers construction executive Larry Nibbi, who signed the letter, told the Chronicle, “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 letter-writers apparently contacted Church officials weeks ago; receiving no satisfactory answer, they decided to run their ad.

The archdiocese stated that its officials have “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 Chronicle revealed its own bias in its concluding paragraph, as it put quotes around “traditional” when it noted that Cordileone will join a march in Washington D.C. supporting “traditional” marriage on April 25.


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