Archbishop Backs Off Language in Controversial Teachers’ Handbook

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu
AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone has capitulated to pressure from parents and teachers at four Bay Area Catholic high schools, agreeing to elide his characterization of same-sex marriage, homosexuality and contraception as “gravely evil” from a new handbook.

The new version also removes the phrase “gravely evil” from describing masturbation and in vitro fertilization.

After Cordileone had included the original language, the wrath of teachers, students, and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors descended on him; but even though he will delete the “gravely evil” designation from the amended handbook, those opponents still remain unsatisfied.

Kathy Curran, a parent of a student at Sacred Heart Cathedral, charged that the revised version of the handbook still condemns same-sex marriage and homosexuality for not adhering Catholic moral standards, telling the San Francisco Chronicle, “The tone is far more conciliatory, far softer, but the problem remains. Even though we appreciate the toning down, we still know the intent and the message remain.”

Larry Kamer, a spokesman for the archbishop, told the Chronicle that Cordileone has “no intention of outing, shaming, discriminating…but he does have strong feelings on Catholic schools.” He added, “We are trying to find that middle ground where some of the issues the archbishop feels very strongly about can be expressed in ways that are perhaps more acceptable to some of the concerned teachers.”

On April 16, opponents of Cordileone had taken out a full-page ad in the Chronicle condemning Cordileone for his hard-line stance on same-sex marriage and homosexuality, saying he “fostered an atmosphere of division and intolerance.”

Kamer argued that the reference in the handbook to teachers as “ministers,” which caused concern among teachers that they would be restricted of certain rights, had been “off the table for months.”

The teachers’ contracts expire on July 31; the handbook has become a negotiating issue in the talks between the church and the teachers. The final decision for the handbook rests with Cordileone.