Catholic students in San Francisco are speaking out against their archbishop — and they chose one of the holiest days on the church’s calendar to do so.
On Ash Wednesday, hundreds of students and parents, some with ashes still streaked across their foreheads, gathered outside Saint Mary’s Cathedral to protest morality clauses for Catholic school teachers promoted by San Francisco’s Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, ABC News’ local affiliate reported.
Hannah Regan, a 14-year-old student at Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory, was one of the many who sang and recited prayers outside the church. She’s been in the city’s Catholic school system for about 10 years and loves the community she’s grown up with. But on Wednesday, she came out with a challenge, holding up a sign that read, “Teach Love, Teach Justice, Teach Acceptance.”
The hashtag #TeachAcceptance has become a rallying cry, she said.
“The message we’re trying to get across is that we support all of our teachers, no matter their gender, sexuality, religion or race,” Hannah told The Huffington Post via a phone call. “The majority of students are very concerned about our teachers and all we want to do is show our love and support.”
— Abi Basch (@abibasch) February 19, 2015
Archbishop Cordileone has been getting pushback from parents and even local lawmakers about efforts to clarify morality clauses that are a part of teachers’ handbooks. The changes add language that reaffirms the church’s stance against homosexuality, same-sex marriage, abortion, contraceptives and artificial insemination. Teachers who violate or even show support for these issues in public could be subject to discipline, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
A proposed agreement with the teacher’s union would also label teachers and employees at San Francisco’s Catholic schools as “ministers,” according to the Los Angeles Times. This designation allows religious organizations to hire and fire employees without government interference.
On Ash Wednesday, Rev. John Piderit told CBS San Francisco that the archbishop is “reiterating standard Catholic doctrine.”
In a letter to Catholic high school teachers issued earlier this month, Cordileone wrote that all teachers are expected to “contribute to an atmosphere of holiness, virtue and familiarity with the Gospel.“
“How can this occur if not all teachers agree with Catholic teachings?” he wrote.
But in a city like San Francisco, it’s hard for some young people to accept…