Anyone else getting tired of the endless whining from NcR? (Note the small “c”. That’s how I’m going to abbreviate the National catholic Reporter from now on thanks to a reader’s suggestion. It’s only fitting.) They must have noticed that there hasn’t been much posted as of late, so they put this out to keep the story “fresh” in peoples’ minds. Here’s the same story (their version of “fresh”), only the dates have changed (http://www.donotlink.com/modernluxury.com/san-francisco/story/the-archbishop-versus-the-teachers). Prepare for an onslaught of rehashed articles from NcR in the next 21 days as the final deadline approaches for the teachers’ contracts to be signed.
Just a short recap from reality: Archbishop Cordileone hasn’t caved on Catholic identity as liberals would like him to do. The end.
Along with typical requests for higher wages, better retirement fund allowances, lower healthcare costs, and preservation of the current tenure system, the union continued to fight what has been its biggest battle yet: preventing new language in the employee contract that would deem all teachers ministers. It’s a semantic change, but one that would strip roughly 250 diocesan educators of their current legal rights as teachers and leave them vulnerable to arbitrary dismissal. After more than four hours of discussion, the negotiations ended at a standstill—as usual. “It was pretty fruitless, to be perfectly honest,” says Paul Hance, a social studies teacher at Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo and one of two union representatives appointed by the school. “This thing has been a nightmare.”
So, why, pray tell, are we trying repeatedly to get the Archbishop to cave on Catholicism in the Catholic schools? That will continue to be a fruitless battle. Can’t you just accept the fact that Archbishop Cordileone isn’t going to cave to your threats? He will continue to reclaim Catholic identity in the schools under his care, and he will protect the children of the school from anti-Catholic messaging as much as humanly possible. Bam! We’re done. You can sign the contracts or not sign them, the choice is yours. I’m sorry you haven’t run into a faithful Catholic Bishop willing to care for souls up until now, but here he is!
The Archdiocese of San Francisco oversees the operations of 74 elementary, middle, and high schools across Marin, San Francisco, and San Mateo Counties. Many of these schools are free to hire, fire, and educate as they please. But the archdiocese exerts executive control over the region’s four diocesan high schools—Serra, Kentfield’s Marin Catholic High School, and Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory and Archbishop Riordan High School in San Francisco—and their nearly 3,700 students. At these schools, the whims of Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone are most keenly felt.
Seriously – whims? Get a clue. I guess they’d consider Christ to have died on a cross on a whim. I’m so sorry that you have been so poorly educated that you wouldn’t know the Catholic Faith if Our Lord came down and explained it to you Himself, but it’s hardly a whim. It’s THE FAITH. It’s not the world according to you.
Pushback from students, parents, and educators regarding the staunchly conservative archbishop’s plans has been well documented by local and national media (even the San Francisco Board of Supervisors rejected Cordileone’s proposed morality clause via a nonbinding resolution). For the most part, the issue has been framed as a revolt against a reactionary clergyman by liberal Catholics who feel that Cordileone’s labeling of same-sex marriage, birth control, and in vitro fertilization as “gravely evil” contradicts their values as post–Vatican II believers. In reality, however, far more is at stake, and the conflict stretches well past questions of Catholic doctrine. Owing to a potent 2012 decision by the United States Supreme Court on ministerial exception, those nearly 250 local teachers are on the edge of a vast legal gray area—one that may swallow them whole before the new school year begins.
All those who believe that the San Francisco Board of Supervisors rejection of Archbishop Cordileone’s morality clause has any bearing on the Catholic Church’s teachings, please raise your hand? I am a “post-Vatican II” believer and the term “gravely evil” doesn’t contradict my values in the least! Why? Well, that would probably be because I actually BELIEVE in the teachings of the Catholic Church. Same-sex marriage, IVF, and artificial birth control ARE GRAVELY EVIL! Deal with it! Thank you so much, NcR, for not actually saying that the Archbishop has called anyone gravely evil. First dose of reality I’ve seen come out of this publication in a long, long time. Now, if they could only come all the way over and acknowledge that Archbishop Cordileone was quoting from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, wouldn’t that be nice? As I’ve pointed out before (https://onemadmomblog.wordpress.com/2015/05/23/the-archbishop-vs-the-red-herrings/), the use of “ministers” matters not.
The morning after that June 17 round of unsuccessful negotiations, Sacred Heart religious and social studies teacher Sal Curcio ambles into Java Beach Café near Ocean Beach toting a stack of legal documents, petitions, and rejected collective bargaining agreements. “I have three folders like this one,” he says, admitting that he had to buy an iPhone after “all this started” to help him keep track of the various components involved. “It’s horrendous,” he says with a pained look. “It’s as if we’re negotiating with a gun to our head.”
Three folders AND an iPhone just to keep track of the fact that the Catholic Church is Catholic? That mean ol’ Archbishop put a gun to his head and made him get an iPhone. Shucks, I suppose the Archbishop also put a gun to his head and made him work at a Catholic school? He probably made him go to Java Beach Café, too. Give me a break! The drama is unfounded. Sorry, the Archbishop is one of the nicest guys around. It might play well to the liberals who don’t know him, but the arch-villain persona given to him is wasted on anyone who has actually met him or heard his homilies or talks. He’s not inflicting his version of the Faith onto these “poor teachers”. He’s teaching THE Faith in the same manner as all the Popes I can remember. He’s being a father to them, and that means speaking the truth even if they don’t want to hear it. Rather than a comic book scenario, people might want to compare this situation to the good father with the rebellious teen. That’s the reality.
Curcio rattles off cases across the country in which teachers redefined as “ministers” have been dismissed without recourse: the Catholic school teacher in Fort Wayne, Indiana, who was fired after undergoing in vitro fertilization; the tenured religious studies professor at Lexington Theological Seminary who was fired for being Jewish; the high school gym teacher in Columbus, Ohio, who was fired after her mother’s obituary listed the teacher’s female partner as a survivor; and, most notably, the 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision against Cheryl Perich, a teacher at a Lutheran grade school in Michigan who was fired for being narcoleptic—in direct violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The decision was upheld unanimously by the court: “Having concluded that there is a ministerial exception grounded in the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment, we consider whether the exception applies in this case,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts. “We hold that it does.”
Again, I’ve already dealt the Perich case before (https://onemadmomblog.wordpress.com/2015/05/23/the-archbishop-vs-the-red-herrings/), but people really need to ask this question: Why in the world do we have to know which teachers are using IVF, marrying their same-sex partners, using artificial birth control, etc.? Believe me, no faithful Catholic wants to know the intimate details of someone else’s sex life! Keep your private life private, please, and there’s no problem. Heck, the dear Sisters of Mercy, in the latest firing, told their lesbian teacher just that, and she agreed! Once it became public that she had “married” her same-sex partner, she was publicly contradicting the faith (AKA publicly undermining the Faith).
Support of marriage equality and LGBT rights, use of birth control, and undergoing in vitro fertilization can all become firing offenses.
Oh, my gosh! Right! If someone teaching at a Catholic school is publicly contradicting the Faith and, after counsel, continues in that action, they would then be thumbing their nose at the Faith. Undermining the Faith SHOULD be a firing offense in an organization whose goal is to teach people that sinning is bad and a danger to their soul. DUH!
In his attempt to make the diocesan high schools’ curricula more Christ-centered, Cordileone has enlisted Melanie Morey, the former provost of St. Patrick’s Seminary & University in Menlo Park, to head the newly created Office of Catholic Identity Assessment. In a PowerPoint presentation given to teachers in February, Morey stressed that Catholic teaching should now be present in every academic subject; she suggested integrating religion into mathematics, for example, by comparing the solving of linear equations to communicating with Jesus. While the concept was largely laughed off by teachers, its message was all too clear: Start proselytizing to students—or risk your job. Curcio acknowledges that a handful of teachers have already left for other schools and that some families are looking to send their kids elsewhere.
Proselytizing??? Wouldn’t that mean transmitting the Faith? Well, to the sane, I think it would. Does this sound familiar, Mr. Curio?!
803 §2. The instruction and education in a Catholic school must be grounded in the principles of Catholic doctrine; teachers are to be outstanding in correct doctrine and integrity of life.
A majority of the teachers nationwide who have been fired under ministerial exception were dismissed for marrying someone of the same sex, using in vitro fertilization, or having sex outside of marriage. Curcio, however, points out that employers needn’t give a rationale. “It could be an undisclosed reason,” he says. “What if I just don’t like you?” Across the country, ministerial employees have been fired for reporting possible sexual assault, for helping coworkers file harassment claims, and for having a disabling condition. While much of the local uproar has focused on whether or not people who work at Catholic schools must adhere to Catholic principles, Curcio says that the real argument is much more basic. “Does a religious employer have the right to be above the law? That’s the crux of the question here.”
Umm, hello! We’re talking about Catholic schools here. How about you provide some examples of all those teachers who have been fired in Catholic schools for “I just don’t like you”? Which law states that Catholic school teachers can’t be fired for undermining the Catholic Faith? The crux is this: Do Catholic schools have the right to be Catholic? It ain’t the Perich case. Mr. Curcio, you might want to actually read the opinions of the justices. Since I doubt you’ll go through the trouble, here’s what Alito and Kagan said:
When it comes to the expression and inculcation of religious doctrine, there can be no doubt that the messenger matters. Religious teachings cover the gamut from moral conduct to metaphysical truth, and both the content and credibility of a religion’s message depend vitally on the character and conduct of its teachers. A religion cannot depend on someone to be an effective advocate for its religious vision if that person’s conduct fails to live up to the religious precepts that he or she espouses. For this reason, a religious body’s right to self-governance must include the ability to select, and to be selective about those who will serve as the very “embodiment of its message” and “its voice to the faithful. Petruska v. Gannon Univ., 462 F. 3d 294, 306 (CA3 2006).” https://onemadmomblog.wordpress.com/2015/05/23/the-archbishop-vs-the-red-herrings/
Did that hurt, Mr. Curcio? The Supreme Court reiterated similar things in the very case you cited on “ministers”.
It’s something that Leslie Griffin bangs her head into all too often. A law professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Griffin is an expert on constitutional law and has unofficially instructed the San Francisco diocesan teachers union on ministerial exception (the union is formally represented by a local labor lawyer, Stewart Weinberg, who declined to comment on the ongoing negotiations). Griffin says that since the 2012 Supreme Court ruling on ministerial exception, teachers across the country have been placed in a precarious position. California law, she points out, requires private employers to respect the privacy rights of employees. “It shouldn’t be possible that in San Francisco, discrimination against gays and lesbians is legal under religious freedom. That’s not legal under California law,” she says.
The archdiocese, Griffin continues, has entered into a strange legal realm where the law that applies to everybody else doesn’t seem to matter. “Most Americans think that if you have a job and you get mistreated, you can go to court and sue,” notes Griffin. But because ministerial exception is an affirmative defense ratified by the Supreme Court, potential plaintiffs in discrimination lawsuits are prevented from even attempting a legal rejoinder: “You lose your day in court.”
She actually seems to get that the Supreme Court is not on their side. Now if she could only get this through to the rest of them, all of us might move on. Religious Freedom means that the Church doesn’t have to put up with teachers in Catholic schools undermining the Faith. What a concept!
One day after the mid-June stalemate, Cordileone wrote letters to Representative Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho) and Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) in support of their proposed First Amendment Defense Act. The legislation, if passed, would prevent the federal government from penalizing religious institutions for making decisions based on opposition to same-sex marriage and sex before marriage.
Are we all chanting “Cardinal Cordileone! Cardinal Cordileone!” yet?! You should be! #cardinalcordileone
Crucial to this struggle is the fact that a contract doesn’t even need to include the word “minister” to effectively relabel teachers as such. The most recent version of the archdiocese’s proposed contract in fact excised the controversial word, but union lawyers insist that teachers would still be held to—and potentially fired due to—ministerial exception law. It all depends upon whether the archdiocese can claim that teaching at its schools constitutes ministerial work: an intriguing concept in light of Melanie Morey’s math lessons on “graphing lines and relating to Christ.”
It’s like they finally read my blog! Whether or not “minister” is in there means nothing. There’s no re-labeling going on. The Archdiocese of San Francisco doesn’t have to claim anything. The Supreme Court already has, and it was a rather big “Duh! Of course teachers can be considered ministers!”
Many current teachers predict that if the San Francisco archdiocese pulls this off, they will be subject to arbitrary dismissal. They question, however, whether the church will be able to replace them with local educators willing to be ministers. It may be a tall order: Several hundred teachers used to attend the yearly archdiocesan hiring fair. But, say teachers and parents, this spring only a few dozen showed up.
Again, that’s just silly. The Church and the Archbishop don’t arbitrarily do anything. Should he “pull it off,” I don’t see mass firings. That certainly wasn’t the case in Oakland. However, should the teachers’ decide to air their sins en masse and cause grave scandal, I can pretty much guarantee the Archbishop will have faithful teachers lining up to teach for him, because they won’t fear persecution by their fellow teachers in San Francisco anymore. Right now, the liberal teachers don’t want to work for him and the faithful teachers are just waiting to see if one of their favorite bishops will be able to protect them. It would be a faithful Catholic teacher’s dream to teach for Archbishop Cordileone!
Despite the public outcry against Cordileone’s plan, few in the world of local Catholic education were surprised he took this route. Just last year a similar fight played out at the Diocese of Oakland, where Bishop Michael Barber altered the employee contract to require teachers to model Catholic moral teachings in their private lives. While a handful of teachers quit and public outrage was displayed on the local news channels, ultimately the diocese won.
Barber’s relationship with his parishioners wasn’t as frayed as Cordileone’s is, and he sat down with educators in attempts to come to a compromise. Cordileone has been present only twice during negotiations in San Francisco. But the most crucial difference, and one that distinguishes San Francisco’s ongoing dispute from similar cases across the country, is that the teachers in Oakland don’t have a union. Kathleen Purcell, who taught at Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland and was fired after crossing out the morality clause on her contract, says that the quashing of the nonunionized teachers’ concerns set the tone for San Francisco’s current fight: “Once Oakland happened, [the Archbishop of] San Francisco started to get ready. They had a lead time.” San Francisco’s teachers, in fact, feel that Cordileone is making the play he has long desired to make: These are the first contract negotiations to come after the 2012 Supreme Court ruling. “I think he’s planned this exactly the way he wanted it to go,” says one teacher, speaking anonymously owing to fears regarding job security. “He knows the timing on everything here.”
Please! San Francisco and Oakland are worlds apart. That’s really the difference. The people in the largely suburban Diocese of Oakland aren’t quite as haughty as to take out full-page ads against their bishop. They definitely have their fair share of liberals, but they’ve had twelve years and three consecutive faithful bishops who have done great things. San Francisco is just in shock and frantic.
What the school year will look like come the fall remains undetermined. During a nearly nine-hour July 1 negotiating session, tentative agreements were reached regarding tenure and healthcare. But barring an unforeseen détente on ministerial exception, teachers’ contracts will expire on July 31. The notion of a strike is hardly far-fetched, but teachers hope that overwhelming public support for labor laws and LGBT issues will provide leverage before it comes to that. “San Francisco is a pretty big union town; we’ve got tons of support,” says Joe Hession, Serra’s other union representative.
The Supreme Court has told you how it’s going to go, guys. The Catholic Church is a pretty big universal organization, if you haven’t noticed. The “union town” has nothing on our 2,000+ years of resisting people like you. If you think we won’t back Archbishop Cordileone all the way to the Supreme Court, you are a bit daft.
But for many teachers, the uphill battle has already become the biggest burden of their career, and it may be just beginning. “This isn’t an overstatement: The entire nation is watching this,” says Sal Curcio. “If the archbishop can break a union in San Francisco—or render it useless by pushing an agenda that takes away the rights of teachers and also hurts the students—then they can do this everywhere.”
It’s not about breaking the union. It’s about retaining Catholic identity and Religious Freedom. The Church certainly isn’t saying you can’t have a union AND Catholic identity and Religious Freedom. You can. You are quite right about one thing, though, Mr. Curcio: the entire nation is watching. The amazing, faithful, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone is leading the nation from San Francisco. He is leading us in traditional marriage, Religious Freedom, Catholic identity, and protecting our youth from those who would try to steal their souls. The Church in America is depending on him, and we need to constantly remember him in our prayers. I also have no problem praying that he will, one day, be Cardinal Cordileone right here in the area where so many are watching.