Hall: Catholicism Anyone? 

There is nothing like the total lack of compassion, forgiveness, humility or loyalty when it comes to the 100 or so supermarket Catholics that lent their names to the disgraceful appeal to Pope Francis to replace Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone that was so contritely displayed in a full-page ad in the April 16 San Francisco Chronicle.

Minor mistakes might have been made by a few priests under the archbishop’s watch. However, I do not agree with the abundance of misrepresentation regarding those mistakes as depicted in the ad, nor the public calls for the archbishop’s replacement.

For example, I do not think the distribution of information that addresses abortion, sodomy, masturbation and sex outside of marriage are appropriate issues to present to students in grades 2 through 6.

Thankfully, vigilant teachers intercepted most of the literature before it was received. Likewise, the issue of altar girl servers being eliminated in that same parish is a questionable move in this day of inclusion. These two incidences occurred in only one of 90-plus parishes in the entire Archdiocese of San Francisco.

As to the issue of the archbishop’s directive to educators and staff in Catholic high schools to adhere to a morality code suitable to a Catholic education, I think his intention was probably not only warranted, but also long overdue in addressing and improving the attributes of a quality Catholic education.

The ad characterizes the archbishop’s directive as a prosecutorial and mean-spirited effort to violate individual consciences and California labor laws. What a nonsensical overstatement! Could it be the signers of the ad are guilty of the same insensitivity of that which they accuse the archbishop?

There are more than 400,000 Catholics and 90 parishes in the Bay Area that compromise the Archdiocese. Just who do these signers of the ad think they are to characterize themselves as representing practicing and committed Catholics? Do they really think they represent the silent majority and daily faithful of some 399,990 other Catholics, who believe a person who is striving to do God’s work should be given benefit of the doubt and worked with to correct what appears to be human mistakes? The self-importance the signers of the ad exude, in assuming they know what’s best for all of us, is truly astonishing.

Lets face it, being an outsider appointed to shepherd the Archdiocese is a very, very difficult assignment. The task to lead Catholics and encourage Catholic values in today’s San Francisco is indeed daunting, and there are people that want the religion to change to satisfy their own agenda. Real, committed Catholics employ the virtues of patience and forgiveness and try to work collaboratively to better a situation. They don’t single out, judge and condemn. They are fully aware that the church is a theocracy, not a democracy, nor an oligarchy, and if they are believers, they try to work within that framework.

The archbishop has accomplished much in a short period of time. He has restructured a troubled seminary. He has been the inspiration behind the rebirth of a successful pro-life movement. He is trying to make Catholicism, especially marriage and the family, more meaningful and relevant in today’s society. His many visits to the parishes have been very well-received.

I personally know a good number of the people who signed their name to the ad. I commend them for their volunteerism and fundraising efforts throughout the years to support the Archdiocese. However, many of the signers would be well advised to rethink their strategy at this time and not let their money, social status or perceived influence deceive themselves into thinking they are more important to the entire Catholic community than they really are.

Christianity, and in particular the Catholic Church, as one of the last bastions of traditional family values, is very much under attack in today’s world. Ads like the one displayed in the Chronicle only serve a different agenda. I am sure many of the people who signed are well-intentioned, but of those who want a church designed around their own wishes, then it seems to me that there already exist other churches and religions that might better suit their needs.

As a practicing Catholic, these signers do not represent me, nor do I think they represent the vast majority of Bay Area Catholics who are willing to give the Archbishop a break before they crucify him.

Tony Hall is a former San Francisco supervisor.

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