San Francisco’ top legal officer today published an opinion piece in the National Catholic Reporter newspaper that was respectful to San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, but also challenged his stand on loyalty oaths and morality clauses for Catholic teachers, calling the Archbishop’s move “high-handed and wrong.”
San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera wrote “To me, San Francisco’s recent controversy threw into stark relief the challenges that make Pope Francis’ leadership so vitally important at this moment in our church’s history. Progress is desperately needed to renew our church’s mission to serve the world rather than scold it and to emphasize teaching that young Catholic consciences will recognize as legitimately Christlike.”
“So when church ideologues express disdain for contemporary society (as Cordileone often does) or bring disproportionate emphasis to the catechism’s most discriminatory and divisive elements (as Cordileone did last month), it risks losing a generation of Catholics quite unlike anything has before,” Herrera wrote.
Herrera’s respectful, but bold statement sent an arrow through the heart of the Archbishop’s stated arguments about why the loyalty oath for teachers is necessary in his opinion.
The Archbishop is fast becoming a pariah in San Francisco. He has grown distant from the parishioners, Catholic grade school and high schools, as well as San Francisco’s top Catholic families, all of whom have banded together to protest his loyalty oath.
There is a discreet, but fast growing grassroots movement against the Archbishop and it is hard to imagine how quickly he has lost both power and prestige in the Bay Area. He is badly damaged as a leader and seems to be sinking in his own morass. Now, with one of the top Catholic elected leaders in Northern California weighing in against him, he has no chance of success.
On top of the Archbishop’s rebuke by Herrera, the Teacher’s Union representing high school teachers said it will not accept his language as part of any of its collective bargaining agreements. And, to add insult to injury, grade school parents at the historic Star of the Sea school are revolting against the Archbishop’s handpicked parish priest, Ft. Joseph Illo.
Illo started an international controversy by banning Altar Girls at Star of the Sea, removing Filipino women who had served for generations on the church altar, refusing to give blessing to non-Catholics and passing out an inappropriate sex pamphlet to second through sixth graders.
Lastly, City Attorney Herrera may have gotten the best line off in this entire debate: the San Francisco Chronicle reporter Kevin Fagan reported “Asked if he (Herrera) felt heinous as a man who has officially and unofficially promoted ideals so contrary to Cordileone’s moral code, Herrera paused for a moment while he carefully picked his words.
“Let’s just say I know I’m not gravely evil,” Herrera said.
The archdiocese had no comment on Herrera’s essay, the Chronicle reported.