Tuesday, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation appealed to the San Francisco Archdiocese to remove harsh anti-LGBT language from its new teachers’ contract.
“The new ‘moral clauses’ proposed in the contract by Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone stand in stark relief to the message of inclusion being promoted by Pope Francis,” said Lisbeth Melendez Rivera, director of Latina/o and Catholic Initiatives for HRC Foundation’s Religion and Faith Program. “In imposing what amounts to an anti-LGBT purity test, the archbishop is closing the door on dedicated professionals, many of them faithful Catholics, gay and straight, whose moral codes do not embrace discrimination.”
Archbishop Cordileone has long been known for his combative language against LGBT people, characterizing same-sex attraction as “self-destructive,” speaking out against employment protections, and calling marriage equality “harmful to individuals and society as a whole.” He supports a Constitutional amendment that would ban marriage equality. Documents presented to teachers today by the archdiocese characterized LGBT sexual relationships as “gravely evil.”
The action being taken by the archdiocese would re-define teachers in the archdiocese as ministers. It is a shameless attempt to not only strip staff of current worker protections, but also put teachers on notice that what they do in their personal and public lives after the work day - including support exhibited by straight teachers for LGBT non-discrimination measures - would be subject to scrutiny, and could be used as grounds for firing.
New contract language would affect four Catholic high schools schools directly affiliated with the archdiocese. Ten other private Catholic high schools that either receive money from or adhere to rules of the archdiocese and are expected to experience the effects of the language as well.
"Our faith is one that teaches us to love and respect one another, not to judge and dismiss. When institutional leaders attempt to define a person's faithfulness by prying into their personal life, they deny the beauty of our faith and the dignity of the people of God,” said Jim FitzGerald, Executive Director of Call To Action, USA, a movement of lay Catholics inspired by their faith to transform the church through inclusion and work to eradicate racism and oppression.
HRC is calling on Catholics, and others, across the country to join an appeal to Archbishop Cordileone to remove the discriminatory clauses from the new teachers’ contract. Students in the diocese are using a Twitter hashtag, #teachacceptance, and a related petition, to voice their opposition to the archdiocese’s anti-LGBT edicts.
“We beseech Archbishop Cordileone not to isolate the Church from the teachings of Christ, but to have the audacity and courage encouraged by Pope Francis to keep its doors open and find new roads ahead that will lead to embracing faithful people - no matter who they are, who they love, or who they support and celebrate,” said HRC’s Melendez Rivera. “Don’t throw people away.”
The archbishop is expected to announce new contract language during a homily on Friday, Feb. 6.