Debate over proposed Catholic morality clause heats up despite progress in contract negotiations 

Two Bay Area lawmakers' request for a legislative investigation into proposed archdiocesan high school teacher contracts has drawn the ire of the leader of the nation's largest Catholic civil-rights organization, even as the teachers union reports progress in its contract negotiations.

Catholic League President William Donahue on Tuesday highlighted the potential "chilling effect" on the Archdiocese of San Francisco by lawmakers seeking to have what they call discriminatory language removed from the contracts.

In a letter to Assemblyman Roger Hernandez, chairman of the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee, and Assemblyman Mark Stone, chairman of the Assembly Judiciary Committee, Donahue urged the politicians to consider whether they would employ a person publicly opposed to their views.

"The answer is obvious," Donahue wrote, implying that a lawmaker would not hire anyone who publicly opposed that lawmaker's policies. "Why, then, should the Catholic Church be held to a different standard?"

The letter followed a plea by assemblymen Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, and Kevin Mullin, D-San Mateo, for the state Legislature to investigate the morality clauses put forth by Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone this month for teachers at four Catholic high schools, including two in The City.

Ting and Mullin on Monday said the morality clauses "set a dangerous precedent for workers' rights through manipulations of law that deprive employees of civil rights guaranteed to all Californians."

Last week, eight politicians — including Ting, state Sen. Mark Leno and Assemblyman David Chiu, also Democrats from San Francisco — sent a letter to Cordileone urging him to remove language from his proposed faculty handbook and contract that some consider discriminatory.

But in a Thursday letter to the lawmakers, Cordileone also questioned whether they would work with a campaign manager who advocates beliefs contrary to the politicians.

"I respect your right to employ or not employ whomever you wish to advance your mission. I simply ask the same respect from you," Cordileone wrote.

Catholic leaders have emphasized that the contract and handbook do not contain new requirements and simply clarify existing expectations. The proposed changes require high school educators to align with Catholic teachings in their professional and public lives.

Meanwhile, the archdiocese and San Francisco Archdiocesan Federation of Teachers, Local 2240, are continuing to negotiate over the contracts.

"The union executive board is pleased with the significant progress that has been made so far this week and we hope to be able to say something more definitive towards the end of the week," Lisa Dole, president the union, said in a statement to The San Francisco Examiner.

About The Author

Laura Dudnick

Laura Dudnick, a Bay Area native, covers education and planning for The San Francisco Examiner. She previously worked as a senior local editor for, and as the San Mateo County bureau reporter and weekend editor for Bay City News Service.
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