Doing His Duty - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Doing His Duty

At one time, Catholic archbishops made news by defying Church teaching. Now they generate headlines by simply following it. Nowhere is this more true than in San Francisco, where the Left feels entitled to impose its liberalism on Church officials.

San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone has been subject to regular hazing from the Left for merely upholding Church teaching. His latest high offense is that he expects teachers at San Francisco’s Catholic schools to refrain from anti-Catholic activism and anti-Catholic teaching.

“As effective professionals in a Catholic School setting, we all — administrators, faculty and staff — are required and expected to avoid fostering confusion among the faithful and any dilution of the schools’ primary Catholic mission,” he said in February. “Therefore, administrators, faculty and staff of any faith or of no faith, are expected to arrange and conduct their lives so as not to visibly contradict, undermine or deny these truths. To that end, further, we all must refrain from public support of any cause or issue that is explicitly or implicitly contrary to that which the Catholic Church holds to be true.”

This obvious and wholly justified condition for employment in Catholic schools has been trumped up into an attack on supposed civil liberties. The Left has discovered yet another new right: the right to employment at a Catholic school while targeting its teachings.

The Left often invokes the “separation of church and state.” But it doesn’t adhere to that doctrine. It is quick to meddle in the affairs of churches. In practice, the “separation of church and state” means the domination of the church by state.

A group of Bay Area lawmakers, who would be the first to cry foul if bishops tried to dictate policy within their offices, felt free to fire off a letter to Cordileone, demanding in effect that he hire opponents of Catholic teaching.

They wrote that his policy “strikes a divisive tone, which stands in stark contrast to the values that define the Bay Area and its history. We are known and beloved around the world for our celebration of diversity, our political activism, and our unwavering commitment to ensure that all people may live with dignity as equals.”

In a reply letter, Cordileone pointed out to them that they would never adopt such a self-defeating policy themselves: “Would you hire a campaign manager who advocates policies contrary to those that you stand for, and who shows disrespect toward you and the Democratic Party in general? On the other hand, if you knew a brilliant campaign manager who, although a Republican, was willing to work for you and not speak or act in public contrary to you or your party — would you hire such a person? If your answer to the first question is ‘no,’ and to the second question is ‘yes,’ then we are actually in agreement on the principal point in debate here.”

Autonomy for the Left is a one-way street: total autonomy for itself, no autonomy for the institutions it seeks to liberalize. The First Amendment means nothing if a religion can’t control its own schools.

Archbishop Cordileone has not only a right but a duty to ensure that Catholic schools under his supervision represent the faith accurately. The Left’s campaign against him amounts to a neutering of his office.

It is bad enough that he has to fight back overt enemies outside the Church. He also faces enemies inside the Church. The Cardinal Newman Society noted recently that the Jesuit University of San Francisco hosted an event trashing Cordileone’s protection of Catholic schools. The event was sponsored without irony by the Jesuit school’s Institute for Catholic Educational Leadership and featured dissenters from Catholic teaching who find Catholic educational leadership dismaying.

What they clearly want is secularized educational leadership within Catholic schools. The National Catholic Reporter quoted one of the speakers: 

“Cordileone, who with his imported crew of orthodox, smugly ideological and intentionally provocative zealots, is trying to shove his sex-obsessed version of Catholic identity down the throats of Catholic high school students and teachers,” said Brian Cahill, former executive director of Catholic Charities of San Francisco, one of the speakers at the forum.

According to the paper, “About 400 attended the forum, many of them wearing black T-shirts that read ‘#teach acceptance’ — which, along with buttons, were on sale outside the conference room.”

But the only lack of acceptance on display is coming from the Left, which refuses to show any of the tolerance it demands of others. In a fit of anti-Catholic intolerance, it seeks to pressure the archbishop into surrendering his own institutions to non-Catholics.

As the archbishop told the hectoring lawmakers, he isn’t exceeding his authority. They are. “I respect your right to employ or not employ whomever you wish to advance your mission,” he wrote. “I simply ask the same respect from you.”

George Neumayr
Follow Their Stories:
View More
George Neumayr, a senior editor at The American Spectator, is author most recently of The Biden Deception: Moderate, Opportunist, or the Democrats' Crypto-Socialist?
Sign Up to receive Our Latest Updates! Register

Notice to Readers: The American Spectator and Spectator World are marks used by independent publishing companies that are not affiliated in any way. If you are looking for The Spectator World please click on the following link:

Be a Free Market Loving Patriot. Subscribe Today!

Fourth of july sale

Join the Fight for Freedom

One Year for Only $47.99

The offer renews after one year at the regular price of $79.99.