SF archbishop removes 'ministers' label from teacher contract 

click to enlarge Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco addresses the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on the Church's activities to promote the defense of marriage at the group's annual fall meeting in Baltimore, Monday, Nov. 12, 2012. - AP FILE PHOTO
  • AP file photo
  • Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco addresses the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on the Church's activities to promote the defense of marriage at the group's annual fall meeting in Baltimore, Monday, Nov. 12, 2012.

Teachers at four Bay Area Catholic high schools, including two in San Francisco, will no longer be referred to as ministers in their new contract that was proposed earlier this month, Catholic officials announced.

In a statement released Tuesday night, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone said he is looking into language that satisfies both the Archdiocese of San Francisco, which is reaffirming that teachers publicly and professionally align with the Catholic mission, and educators who are concerned the term “minister” could potentially strip them of their legal rights.

Additionally, Cordileone announced that he is establishing a committee of religion teachers to add explanations, clarifications and material on Catholic school teachings to be included in the faculty handbook, also proposed in early February.

The archdiocese released the statement after Cordileone met with the San Francisco Chronicle on Tuesday and the newspaper reported that he is re-examining the strict morality clause.

“The Archbishop has not repealed anything,” the Rev. John Piderit, vicar for administration and moderator of the curia, said in the statement. “Nothing already planned to go in [to the handbook] is being removed or retracted or withdrawn.”

The City’s highest Catholic official has come under fire in recent weeks after introducing the contract and handbook, which Catholic leaders have emphasized simply clarify existing expectations that Catholic educators maintain Catholic teachings publicly and in the classroom.

Last week, eight politicians — including state Sen. Mark Leno and assemblymen David Chiu and Phil Ting, all Democrats from San Francisco — sent a letter to Cordileone urging him to remove language from the handbook and contract that some consider discriminatory.

Cordileone responded by questioning 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 in a letter to the lawmakers.

On Tuesday, the archdiocese emphasized that while the term “minister” is no longer being considered, “ministry” remains in the clause. Meanwhile, the San Francisco Archdiocesan Federation of Teachers Local 2240 reported positive developments in contract negotiations Tuesday, but did not provide further details.

“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

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