Despite severe criticism, Archbishop Cordileone is taking a stand and helping Catholic schools fulfill their true mission, argued Bob Laird, vice president for program development at The Cardinal Newman Society, in his San Francisco Chronicle op-ed.
As part of an updated Catholic school faculty handbook, Archbishop Cordileone of San Francisco recently released a “Statement of the High Schools of the Archdiocese of San Francisco Regarding the Teachings and Practice of the Catholic Church.” The statement provides clear guidance for the moral conduct of archdiocesan teachers, explaining why they cannot publicly support causes or issues that are contrary to the teachings of the Church. Revised teacher contracts that clarify and further affirm the schools’ Catholic identity and mission were also developed.
While the archbishop has worked to strengthen the Catholic identity of the schools in his care, some have severely criticized his decisions. The San Francisco Chronicle ran an editorial claiming that the morality clauses “chill” the rights of teachers. And the dissident group Call to Action started a petition against the effort, calling morality clauses “outdated and discriminatory”.
But the criticism thrown at Archbishop Cordileone is wholly undeserved, argued Bob Laird, defending the San Francisco archbishop as “a true shepherd of Catholic schools.”
“If the mission of Catholic schools is to form students both in knowledge and in faith, then he is simply doing his job to ensure that teachers have the necessary qualifications for religious education,” Laird wrote.
“Hasn’t the National Football League been pressured to care about the image that its employees (the players) portray off as well as on the field? Would it make sense for a Burger King employee to publicly tout the superior qualities of a McDonald’s Big Mac? I don’t think so,” he said. “It also doesn’t make sense to employ a teacher in a religious school who openly flouts the beliefs of the employer.”
“Dissenting opinions are not new in the Church, and they deserve a patient and merciful response,” Laird noted in the article. “But Christ did not alter his teachings in order to please his listeners… It’s ludicrous to think that Catholic school teachers should be invited to teach dissent by word or example.”
He highlighted the transitional period that comprises the teenage years, noting that it is especially a time of developing the values and habits one will likely carry for the rest of his or her life. “Why would the Catholic Church provide anything other than Catholic formation? And if faculty and staff members openly object to what it means to be Catholic, why would they be qualified for employment at a Catholic school?” Laird wrote.
He argued that it is “the archbishop’s job to lead Catholics and to protect Catholic students from wayward interpretations of our Catholic faith that have crept into society.”
“The archbishop is not ‘out of touch with the community that he has been assigned to serve,’ as The Chronicle has argued. To the contrary, he understands it quite well,” Laird concluded.
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