As San Franciscans have rallied in opposition to Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone's policies, even taking out a full-page ad in the San Francisco Chronicle asking Pope Francis to remove him, his supporters have launched a counterattack.
The conservative national political organization Catholic Vote has asked its supporters to sign a petition in support of the archbishop with an article headlined "Big political donors in San Francisco bully the archbishop."
"It's a little fishy that these 'concerned Catholics' have consistently contributed to politicians who radically oppose Church teaching," it said, listing contributions by signees of the ad to Democratic politicians and organizations.
In February, supporters launched a Facebook page, "I support Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone," that has more than 2,700 likes. And the Cardinal Newman Society ran an opinion piece, "Where's the tolerance in San Francisco?", that was reprinted on LifeSiteNews.com, a conservative website that also started a petition in Cordileone's support.
Cordileone is "just currently the biggest target in a bastion of the fully-empowered tyrannical Left who will not tolerate any deviance from their liberal orthodoxy," the opinion piece said.
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The archbishop ran into opposition when he inserted a morality clause into the teacher handbooks of four Catholic high schools in San Francisco, Kentfield and San Mateo. The clause warned teachers against any activities that contradict church teaching. Presumably, such activities include marrying a same-sex partner or supporting abortion rights.
Cordileone has also faced criticism for his appointment of Fr. Joseph Illo and Fr. Patrick Driscoll to Star of the Sea Church in San Francisco. The pastors have riled parents of the parish school for prohibiting girls from serving at the altar and for distributing a pamphlet to elementary school students that discussed sodomy, masturbation and adultery.
Supporters of Cordileone in San Francisco have been fairly quiet. As about 400 parents, students, teachers and community members rallied at the University of San Francisco campus on March 16 to oppose the teacher handbook insertion, for example, a group of about 15 stood outside the campus church with signs in support of the archbishop.
Lisa Hamrick, a lifelong Catholic and San Francisco resident, said she fully supports the archbishop. "I think he's doing a marvelous job under very difficult circumstances," she said. "Taking ads out in the local paper against the archbishop only brings discord and divisiveness and serves no purpose."
After the newspaper ad ran April 14, Eva Muntean, the marketing manager at Ignatius Press who organizes the annual Walk for Life in San Francisco, issued a press release on a recently created website, sfcatholics.org.
"The newspaper ad is a slur on a good and decent man who has devoted his life in service to others," it said. "It grossly misrepresents the position of the Archbishop on critical issues, attempting to suggest that he is at odds with Pope Francis. He is not."
The website announced a family picnic day in San Francisco on May 16, asking Cordileone's supporters to show up, sign guest books and speak to the archbishop on video.
Parishioners of Star of the Sea Church have also started a petition in support of their pastors.
In other developments in the archdiocese, the parent-student group Concerned Students & Parents: Teach Acceptance announced Tuesday that a "Support Our Teachers Labor Rally" will be held at 4:30 p.m. April 27 at the chancery.
Organizers said the chancery's address, 1 Peter Yorke Way, honors a famed Irish-born San Francisco labor activist, Fr. Peter Yorke (1864-1925).
A petition asking Cordileone to set aside his announced insertions into the faculty handbooks of the four archdiocesan schools was signed by 80 percent of the teachers and staffs of those schools last month, the group said.
[Mandy Erickson is a freelance writer from the San Francisco Bay Area.]