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S.F. Catholic School Handbook to Denounce 'Grave Evil' of Same-Sex Relationships

S.F. Catholic School Handbook to Denounce 'Grave Evil' of Same-Sex Relationships

San Francisco may be a bastion of LGBT-friendliness — but its Roman Catholic archdiocese doesn’t necessarily share the area’s inclusive spirit. Four Catholic high schools in the area are having “sexual morality” statements added to their employee handbooks.

The document “Statement of the High Schools of the Archdiocese of San Francisco Regarding Teachings and Practice of the Catholic Church,” is set to be added under the leadership of Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, San Francisco TV station KPIX reports. It includes the direction that “extra-marital sexual relationships are gravely evil, including adultery, masturbation, fornication, the viewing of pornography and homosexual relations.”

Cordileone plans to add the new language, which comes from the Catholic catechism, to the handbook for the school year that will start this fall, the station reports. He also hopes to add language to the teachers' union contract stating that teachers “have a professional obligation not to act publicly to 'contradict, undermine or deny’ the religious message that the school exists to proclaim and which they are hired to advance,” the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Cordileone said the language simply makes clear what the church has always expected of teachers, the Chronicle notes. “The intention is certainly not to pry into the private lives of the teachers, and we’re certainly not going to do that,” he said in a video explanation. “People are entitled to their private lives. But teachers also have to respect the mission of the school and the way they live their public lives.”

In a letter to teachers, he further noted, “The intention underlying this document is not to target for dismissal from our schools any teachers, singly or collectively.” But in Catholic churches and schools across the nation, staff members who have married same-sex partners have lost their jobs, as church hierarchy considers such marriages to be a public statement that conflicts with Catholic doctrine. 

Cordileone is scheduled to address teachers at the high schools and discuss the new language with them Friday. Opponents of the additions are hoping to dissuade him from making them; they have started a social media campaign using the hashtag #teachacceptance as well as an online petition.

Lisbeth Melendez Rivera of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation added that the new language stood in “stark relief to the message of inclusion being promoted by Pope Francis.”

The pontiff, though, has a decidedly mixed record when it comes to LGBT inclusion. Many have hailed him for shifting the Catholic Church’s tone when it comes to LGBT issues. At the same time, he’s garnered criticism for a lack of policy changes — not to mention some public comments he’s made criticizing same-sex marriage and nontraditional families. The Vatican has also held a “traditional marriage” summit under his leadership. This week he even expressed support for measures banning marriage and adoption rights for same-sex couples in Slovakia. 

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