SAN FRANCISCO – San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone has been working vigorously to protect and promote the Catholic identity of schools in the archdiocese, but some Catholic high school teachers recently signed a letter requesting morality clauses be removed from the revised faculty handbook.
Criticism lobbied against the archbishop’s decision to prohibit teachers from publicly acting against Catholic teaching now includes more than 350 teachers signing the recent letter, according to CBS San Francisco. Organizers of the letter claimed that the signatures amounted to 80 percent of faculty and staff at the schools that are subject to the handbook.
“We believe the recently proposed handbook language is harmful to our community and creates an atmosphere of mistrust and fear,” the letter reportedly stated. “We believe our schools should be places of inquiry and the free exchange of ideas where all feel welcome and affirmed.”
But in a recent address, Archbishop Cordileone encouraged and affirmed the unique role that Catholic high school teachers play in the moral formation of students. A “Catholic school relies on its teachers to share basic Catholic insights concerning truth with students, in order to accompany their students on the path of discovering, appreciating and appropriating the truth,” he said. The revised language aims then to “help the schools better fulfill their mission, and also highlight for teachers true Catholic teachings that are contested by many people in secular society today,” the archbishop clarified.
One campaign organizer and a teacher at Sacred Heart Cathedral High School, Jim Jordan, argued that the language was exclusive and condemnatory, according to the article. “This language in this judgmental context undermines the mission of Catholic education and the inclusive, diverse and welcoming community we prize at our schools,” he said.
However, a Q&A released by the archdiocese helped to clarify that the archdiocese is not requiring individual teachers to take any oath or affirmation. The “Affirm and Believe” statements listed in the contracts and handbook only serve to clarify the beliefs of the Catholic institution. “The Archdiocese has no intention of ‘rooting out’ those who are not Catholic or those who do not assent completely to Catholic teaching,” the news release stated. Rather, teachers are simply expected “as a matter of professional obligation to honor the Catholic identity and mission of our schools, which is now more clearly stated in the teacher handbooks.”
Opponents of Archbishop Cordileone’s decision recently hired image consultant and “infamous public-relations maven” Sam Singer in an attempt to undermine the archbishop’s efforts.
“Our Catholic bishops have the rightful authority to defend Catholic teaching and protect the Catholic mission of Catholic schools, which includes ensuring that curriculum, employment policies, health benefits and other concerns remain consistent with Catholic teaching and that teachers are good role models for students,” Cardinal Newman Society President Patrick Reilly recently noted.
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