This little lovely landed on my laptop today. Just to give you some background, the latest version of the teachers’ handbook in progress for the Archdiocese of San Francisco dropped this week and – shocker of shockers – some don’t like it. They organized a little group temper tantrum and here’s the announcement for it. I’ve removed names. Why? It was totally public but I just feel sad for the two souls who put it out. I’m sure one or two of the group will likely claim it but that’s on them. So, here are some snippets from the press release from “Concerned Parents and Teachers: Teach Acceptance”. Not really sure why they changed the name in the release but this is what they normally go by. Just so you can follow along, I’m going to interject but you can see it in all its whiny glory (minus names, phone numbers and links) here: It Harms Our Teachers, Students, Schools and Community
SF Catholic High School Parents, Teachers & Students
Reject Archbishop Cordileone’s Revised Handbook:
“It Harms Our Teachers, Students, Schools and Community”
WHEN: 4:00 pm Wednesday, May 20
WHERE: SF Archdiocesan Chancery, 1 Peter Yorke Way, San Francisco
WHAT: Press Conference to reject Archbishop Cordileone’s revised Faculty Handbook
WHO: Concerned Parents: Teach Acceptance and teachers, students, and allies
On Wednesday, May 20, 2015, concerned parents at San Francisco Archdiocesan schools will be joined by teachers, students and allies to declare their firm opposition to the latest version of Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s Faculty Handbook. Parents, Teachers, Students and allies will gather in front of the Archiocesan Chancery Office at 1 Peter Yorke Way.
The Archbishop is attempting to reclassify all employees of four schools within the Archdiocese as part of the “ministry” and “mission” of the church in order to eliminate anti-discrimination and other workplace protections for those staff members.
First, our schools are part and parcel of the ministry and mission of the Church and, thus, so would be the teachers. There’s really no need to classify them or non-classify them as such. The schools are covered under the First Amendment’s free-exercise clause and are not limited by anti-discrimination laws intended for a secular employer. How do we know this? Because the Supreme Court has said this time and time again, and very recently, too. If this were not the case, these schools would be REQUIRED to hire teachers who oppose the Church. They are not.
He has also proposed that teachers and staff at the schools accept handbook language that, among other things, condemns homosexuality, same-sex marriage, contraception, and use of assisted reproductive technology.
And there it is again…The Church does not condemn homosexuality. This is just another disingenuous attempt to win sympathy. How about those who claim to know so much about what Pope Francis thinks pick up the Catechism once in awhile? Really, when you claim to have the moral authority on all things Catholic, you might want to claim to be Catholic first, and then actually know the teachings of the Catholic Church. Ever notice how they just state what the Church teaches and NEVER back it up with any document to prove it?
If you note, they actually are saying that this revision of the handbook (not final by any stretch) actually concurs with Catholic teaching on same-sex marriage (I’m pretty sure everyone knows the Catholic Church doesn’t accept SSM), contraception (remember that pesky Humanae Vitae? – liberals are still fuming about that one) and in vitro fertilization (documents can be found on this one too). I’m including some documents at the bottom if anyone doubts the Church has condemned all of these. See the difference? I back up what I say about the Church, and Sam and his minions cannot. All they can do is parrot “Who am I to judge?”, and most don’t even know Pope Francis’s original topic on that one (hint: none of the above).
These proposals, originally made public in February, were met with an overwhelming outcry from teachers, parents, students and allies of the four schools.
Overwhelming outcry?! I think not. Look at the numbers. They just don’t jive with that. The overwhelming majority (even people outside the Catholic Church) actually agree that the Catholic Church should be able to teach Catholicism. It’s kind of, well, common sense. (I know, it’s missing in some circles.) Can you believe the egomania of this crowd: “I think this way, therefore all of society must”?! Can I, once again, remind you about the inconvenient (for them) little SFGate poll? (Cue the whining about how we magically could muster votes that they couldn’t – despite the fact that it’s a liberal publication that published the dang poll in the first place!)
In recent days, the Archbishop sent a letter and revised draft Faculty Handbook to at least fifteen Catholic educators. Parents, teachers and students say that while softer in tone, this revised handbook represents no meaningful change from his original agenda.
Can we just talk about the hypocritical use of the word “tone” for a moment? Would you prefer Sam Singer’s tone? It just gives me warm fuzzies. The Archbishop’s words are the words of the Church. Sam Singer’s are all his.
As far as the Archbishop’s tone pre-revision/post-revision, can anyone show me how it differs from any document of the Catholic Church?! Please! Cite away! What’s that? I can’t hear you! Speak up! Come on, you supposedly have a mountain of evidence in your favor, no? Didn’t think so.
“Sadly, the Archbishop has changed his tone, but not the substance of his proposal,” said Jim Jordan, a teacher at Sacred Heart Cathedral High School. “The Archbishop even states in the letter that he wants to ‘find another approach to reach the same goal.’ He’s not backing down at all.” Jordan added, “As for the revised handbook language, the committee who drafted it was never authorized to act on behalf of the schools. Their administrators all discouraged them from participating in order to protect them from being in the vulnerable position of creating employment policy for their co-workers.”
Well, glad the fact that the substance hasn’t changed has been acknowledged. Someone might want to let Sam Singer and the Singer mouthpieces (SF Chronicle and SF Gate) know about that. They clearly haven’t gotten the message as evidenced by Singer’s latest Twitter rants.
I read this and I have to laugh: “the committee who drafted it was never authorized to act on behalf of the schools.” Dears, the Archbishop doesn’t have to ask your permission for anything. The Archdiocese owns the schools and the Archbishop is in charge of them. He can bring in whatever advisors and committees he wants. It is quite laughable that you have a problem with your peers advising the Archbishop. Clearly, you think you’re the only ones who should be doing the advising (or more like the demanding). You wanted consultation, you got it, and now you’re complaining about it? Yeah, that’s about right.
“Archbishop Cordileone’s latest faculty handbook language, while more conciliatory in tone than the previous version, and eliminating words like ‘gravely evil,’ has the same result: teachers are cast as ministers with no legal protections, with personal lives open to scrutiny from their employer,” said Kathy Curran, a parent of two children in Catholic high schools. “The language is still harmful to our children and is an attempt to camouflage his original agenda and fundamentally alter the character and culture of Catholic education in our high schools.”
At this point I think you all might want to read this little document from Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education (yes there is such a thing): http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccatheduc/documents/rc_con_ccatheduc_doc_19770319_catholic-school_en.html
You see, the Archbishop isn’t altering the character and culture of Catholic educations. He’s trying to uphold it. Catholic schools have always been considered apostolates of the Church. We’ve got a whole lot of documents saying as much, so when someone decides to get litigious and try to invoke anti-discrimination laws, they are going to lose. Why? Thanks, I’m glad you asked! The Supreme Court, in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, was very clear. Justice Roberts, writing the court’s opinion, wrote:
The Court, however, does not adopt a rigid formula for deciding when an employee qualifies as a minister.
Justices Alito, with Justice Kagan concurring, wrote:
Religious autonomy means that religious authorities must be free to determine who is qualified to serve in positions of substantial religious importance. Different religions will have different views on exactly what qualifies as an important religious position, but it is nonetheless possible to identify a general category of “employees” whose functions are essential to the independence of practically all religious groups. These include those who serve in positions of leadership, those who perform important functions in worship services and in the performance of religious ceremonies and rituals, and those who are entrusted with teaching and conveying the tenets of the faith to the next generation.
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).”
Similarly, Justice Thomas wrote:
A religious organization’s right to choose its ministers would be hollow, however, if secular courts could second-guess the organization’s sincere determination that a given employee is a “minister” under the organization’s theological tenets. Our country’s religious landscape includes organizations with different leadership structures and doctrines that influence their conceptions of ministerial status. The question whether an employee is a minister is itself religious in nature, and the answer will vary widely Judicial attempts to fashion a civil definition of “minister” through a bright-line test or multi-factor analysis risk disadvantaging those religious groups whose beliefs, practices, and membership are outside of the “mainstream” or unpalatable to some.
(The Justices write a whole lot more awesome stuff that’s going to make some heads spin. Please read the opinion in its entirety here: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/10-553.pdf)
If someone sued on the basis of a teacher not being a minister, the Church can whip out document after document like THE CATHOLIC SCHOOL talking about the mission of schools and lay apostolates. (LINK FOUND ABOVE). The proof is in the Church documents already. The Archbishop simply restating them doesn’t put one’s job in jeopardy. It’s simply letting the teachers know what is expected of them.
Sacred Heart Cathedral Senior Gino Gresh voiced concern that the Archbishop is attempting to redefine Catholic education, placing at risk the century-old reputation of one of the finest educational institutions in San Francisco. “I love my school. I know I have received a world class, values-based education,” said Gresh. “And fellow students who are LGBT or questioning their sexuality, whose parents are divorced or LGBT, or who were conceived through IVF – all of us, no matter where we come from or who we are, have felt safe to question and safe to learn. Under the Archbishop’s proposals, that would no longer be the case. For me, a great education teaches me to think and to ask questions. It’s not being told what to think or how to be. ”
Holy cow! One more time! The Archbishop isn’t redefining Catholic education. That’s what “Concerned Parents and Teachers” are doing. That sad thing is that these young students are buying it hook, line, and sinker, due to years of Catholic teaching being ignored. Safe? The buzz words are so nonsensical. Who, exactly, is going to the students and telling them that they are anything less than precious in God’s eyes? Who is telling them they’re in danger? These kids are being used as pawns by adults who don’t want to be held accountable by anyone for their actions. Sadly, this isn’t how it works. They will be held accountable, and the Archbishop knows it and is trying his darnedest to make sure they understand what God expects of them. I am so glad we finally have an Archbishop who puts the souls of these students first!
A great education does get students to think and to ask questions, but it’s done in the light of Truth. Nobody is telling them what to think. They are teaching them how to think, how to properly form their consciences (I know, a wacky idea!), what God wants of them, and how the Catholic Church is there to help – or at least that’s what should be taught.
Parents and teachers noted that the Archbishop has many platforms from which to educate faculty, students, parents and other members of the school community regarding his interpretations of Church theology, other than an employee handbook. Serra High School parent Lynn Schuette said, “While the Archbishop’s ‘short compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church’ may be appropriate for a religious treatise, it is not acceptable for a faculty handbook. His selective list of Catholic catechism fails to reflect a fuller understanding of the Catholic tradition, let alone the centrality of the primacy of conscience and the ‘sense of the faithful.’”
The Truths of the Catholic Church aren’t up for interpretation. This is the heart of the problem. These uneducated (and many times non-Catholic) teachers and parents don’t quite grasp that the Church isn’t a club where we all get together and decide on truths. There’s only one Truth and you apparently don’t understand it. The handbook is a transmission of these Truths as cited from actual Church teachings. If you don’t like the “selective list of Catholic catechism”, READ THE WHOLE BOOK YOURSELF! There’s a logical thought! Really, first you complain there’s too much in the handbook, and now there’s too little? This is getting rather comical.
And can I just ask, who the heck is Lynn Schuette and how does she have a fuller understanding of the Catholic Faith than the guy with the doctorate in Canon Law and who worked for the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura?!?!?!?!? I know that’s an organization with a really fancy name, but look it up! I’m pretty sure it’s you, Lynn, who doesn’t quite understand the teaching on the Primacy of Conscience. Wait, I know! Is she also an alumna of Serra? I guess that would make sense. Lynn, you might want to actually look at the duties involved with that before you hang your hat on your ticket to Heaven, because you have Primacy of Conscience. Here’s a hint:
1783 Conscience must be informed and moral judgment enlightened. A well-formed conscience is upright and truthful. It formulates its judgments according to reason, in conformity with the true good willed by the wisdom of the Creator. The education of conscience is indispensable for human beings who are subjected to negative influences and tempted by sin to prefer their own judgment and to reject authoritative teachings. (http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s1c1a6.htm)
Ouch, that must have hurt! Oh, yeah, that’s kind of mentioned in the handbook, too. It’s also kind of what the Catholic school is all about!
Just because I really care, I’m going to throw this little bit of education in here just for Lynn: https://www.ewtn.com/library/DOCTRINE/CONSC.TXT
“Under the revised handbook language, teachers would not be able to dissent or discuss ideas that conflict with the Archbishop’s understanding of Catholicism without risking their jobs,” said Kathleen Purcell, a constitutional attorney and former Catholic high school teacher. “This fundamentally alters the character of our schools. Teachers whose jobs are under threat if they step outside the line cannot provide a safe environment for students to learn.”
Wrong, Kath. Teaching the Faith doesn’t fundamentally alter the character of “your” (please note the totally necessary use of quotations) schools. Doing so makes them what they are formed to be! Also, they can discuss ideas, but cannot dissent from Church teachings. My family and I discuss abortion, birth control, homosexuality, and a myriad of topics. (Yes, I realize you are all wondering about now why this is so hard for some to understand. The only explanation I can offer is that it’s the San Francisco Bay Area. Please pray for us!) Kath, spin it as you will, but it has nothing to do with the Archbishop’s “interpretation” and everything to do with authentic Catholicism. It’s so simple. LOOK IT UP! It’s been taught for 2,000 years by the bishops in communion with the Pope. Feel free to prove me wrong and cite a document or two.
The teachers are represented by the Archdiocesan Federation of Teachers Local 2240. In late April, California State Labor Leaders, Central Labor Councils and 19 local unions stood in solidarity with AFT Local 2240 to call upon the Archbishop to stop threatening teachers’ legal protections. The Archbishop and the Teachers’ Union remain at the bargaining table. Sal Curcio, a Sacred Heart Cathedral High School teacher and member of the union’s Executive Board, stated, “We will not accept language that diminishes our legal protections.”
See their wrongness above in the Supreme Court section.
Just so you know who the players are in the little press release drama, one is part of the “100 Prominent Catholics” who organized against the Vatican’s opposition to a UN resolution on homosexuality. Another claims the status of “former Catholic” and is a proud IVF user. Yet another claims to be a former Catholic and a lesbian. One organized the employee petition, and was pretty happy when it was posted on the Cathedral door. (Who does that remind you of?) Seriously, I found it on his Twitter account! Last, but not least, one was a high school teacher in the Oakland diocese and was one of 4 who refused to sign the handbook over there and her contract was not renewed. Do you think any of them might have some personal motivations? The problem is, they are in the minority. They like to think the Church revolves around their whims and proclivities, but it doesn’t.
I’m going to steal a line from a friend and say there are enough red herrings in this press release to start a fish processing plant! They should just be honest and say they don’t agree with the Church teachings and want them to go away so they’re not uncomfortable – but I suppose that doesn’t make the best press release.
P.S. Promised docs just so the media doesn’t think I’m lying: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19870222_respect-for-human-life_en.html