SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — More than 100 Bay Area Catholics went public with their complaints about the San Francisco archbishop on Thursday, asking Pope Francis in a full page newspaper ad to replace Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone with someone more inclusive and less divisive.
The open letter stated that the Archdiocese of San Francisco is threatened by Cordileone’s “single-issue agenda and cannot survive, let alone thrive and grow under his supervision” and that San Francisco deserves a leader focused on service and diversity.
Cordileone has called for teachers and staff at four high schools within the archdiocese to accept contract and handbook language against abortion, homosexuality, same-sex marriage, birth control and artificial insemination.
Michael Kelly, an attorney who signed the letter, spoke at an impromptu press conference Thursday. He said the group tried reaching out quietly to the Vatican, and it published when the group’s members realized they were getting nowhere.
“Our hope is that the pope recognizes, both from our messages and this, that we are serious, that we are looking to him for help,” Kelly said.
A statement from the archdiocese called the advertisement a misrepresentation of Catholic teaching, teacher contracts, and the “spirit of the Archbishop.”
“The greatest misrepresentation of all is that the signers presume to speak for ‘the Catholic Community of San Francisco.’ They do not.”
Larry Kamer, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said Thursday that he had nothing further to add.
But a newly formed group of Catholics who back Cordileone issued a statement, calling the newspaper ad “a slur on a good and decent man who has devoted his life in service to others.” The group, San Francisco Catholics, is planning a picnic in May to support the archbishop.
Prominent Catholics in business and civic life are among those requesting Cordileone’s ouster. Clint Reilly, a former board chairman of Catholic Charities CYO, was present at the news conference held at a building he owns downtown, along with Tom Brady Sr., father of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.