California lawmakers urge archbishop to remove morality clauses from teacher handbooks

San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone

San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone AP

SAN FRANCISCO — California lawmakers on Tuesday urged the archbishop of San Francisco to remove from a teachers’ handbook morality clauses they say are discriminatory and divisive.

San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore CordileoneAP

San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone

The lawmakers said in a letter to Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone that the clauses “foment a discriminatory environment” and send “an alarming message of intolerance to youth.”

Cordileone earlier this month presented teachers at the archdiocese’s four high schools with a statement that says Catholic school employees are expected to conduct their public lives in a way that doesn’t undermine or deny the church’s doctrine.

The statement outlines the church’s teaching that using contraception is a sin and that sex outside of marriage, whether it is in the form of adultery, masturbation, pornography or gay sex, is “gravely evil.”

The archbishop said the statement would be added to the faculty handbooks.

Cordileone’s media office said he was not available to comment Tuesday.

The archbishop has said the document was designed to bolster the schools’ primary mission of educating faithful Catholics and that “no teacher will be required to sign any kind of statement or oath.”

The letter, written by Democratic Assemblymen Phil Ting of San Francisco and Kevin Mullin of San Mateo, was signed by every lawmaker representing the communities served by the four Catholic high schools in San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin counties.

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Cordileone’s statement “strikes a divisive tone, which stands in stark contrast to the values that define the Bay Area and its history,” the letter reads.

A group of parents and students from the Catholic high schools plan to hold a candlelight vigil outside St. Mary’s Cathedral in support of teachers Wednesday, which is Ash Wednesday, a holy day that starts the Lenten season in the Roman Catholic church.

“We call on the Archbishop to reconsider his proposal, stop his attack on our LGBTQ family members and friends, and instead, affirm the fundamental Catholic values of love, respect and justice,” vigil organizers said.

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