The Catholic archbishop of San Francisco is under fire after releasing a faculty handbook to Catholic schools calling on teachers and educators to conduct their public and professional lives in accordance to the church’s teachings on homosexuality, abortion, birth control and other behaviors.
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone wants the new handbook to be made available to the faculty of four high schools owned and operated by the archdiocese by next year, according to the Associated Press.
The handbook states that the entire school administration, including non-Catholics, must refrain from saying or doing anything that contradicts church doctrine.
The news has stirred an uproar within the school community, which is located in one of the most liberal cities in America.
Lisbeth Melendez Rivera, a director of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Religion and Faith Program, said, “The new ‘moral clauses’ proposed … by Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone stands in stark relief to the message of inclusion being promoted by Pope Francis.”
The Archbishop addressed the issue, saying that the handbook was meant “to provide clarity for teachers and not to target any for dismissal,” according to the Associated Press.
“The intention is certainly not to pry into the private lives of the teachers,” he said in a YouTube video posted as the handbook was presented to teachers on Tuesday. “We certainly aren’t going to do that. People are entitled to their private lives, but teachers also have to respect the mission of the school in the way they live their public lives."
The four schools enroll around 3,600 students and are among a few Catholic schools around the country with teachers represented by a union.
The president of the Archdiocesan Federation of Teachers Lisa Cole said that union members were still reeling from Cordileone’s statement.
“We are pleased that the document acknowledges that the teachers in our high schools are not all the same, like many Catholics around the world who struggle with their adherence to some of the the teachings of the church,” she said in a statement. “However, there are still concerns with the proposed language and some key issues that the union and archbishop are hopeful that we will be able to work out.”
As of now, the Archbishop does not have the ability to control the behaviors of the teachers and cannot fire them for their private views on these social stances. However, he has proposed a contract that would establish all school employees as ministers of the church. This would make teachers who do not adhere to the beliefs at risk of firing.
Archbishop Cordileone has been under the critical eye of liberal San Franciscans since before he was installed in his current position in October 2012. In 2008, he helped lead the passage of a state constitutional amendment that outlawed same-sex marriage in California.