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Archbishop, religious leaders bless San Francisco’s tallest building

new 05 4.13.17_ABC.salesforce.IMG_3279Archbishop Cordileone prayed the Prayer of St. Francis to bless the new Salesforce Tower as part of a group of San Francisco religious leaders at the “Topping Off Celebration” April 6 at the site of the city’s new tallest building at First and Mission streets. (Photo by Valerie Schmalz/Catholic San Francisco)

April 13, 2017
Valerie Schmalz

In a remarkable event for the increasingly secular city of St. Francis, Salesforce founder and CEO Marc Benioff invited Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone and other religious leaders to bless the 61-story, Salesforce Tower, being touted as the city’s tallest building.

“The invitation to offer this interfaith blessing speaks to the deep faith and commitment to philanthropy of the founder and CEO of Salesforce, Marc Benioff,” said the San Francisco Interfaith Council’s executive director Michael Pappas. Construction on the building is scheduled to be completed later this year.

“You who we call holy has placed the earth and its fruits under our care, bless this magnificent edifice, the Salesforce Tower,” the religious leaders and members of the San Francisco Interfaith Council prayed, led by Pappas, and raising their hands in a gesture of blessing at the April 6 ceremony.

Benioff said he hoped when people “look at this building” they will see it as “a reminder of giving back,” calling for “the importance of giving back to our city whoever we are or wherever we are. Each of us can do at least one specific thing.”

Benioff spoke at the short but festive occasion of walking along downtown streets with his grandfather, a member of the San Francisco board of supervisors for 16 years, as the Transamerica Tower rose to dominate the San Francisco skyline. The two would talk about eventually bringing the same business growth to South of Market. “That inspiration really gave birth” to the Salesforce Tower, he said.

At the ceremony, Benioff announced the 61st floor with its open floor plan and views would be used by employees during the week but would be available to nonprofits and non-governmental organizations for events on weekends and at night. “And of course, we aren’t going to charge you for that because we know the most important thing is giving back,” Benioff said.

“The Topping Off Ceremony” celebrated the placing of the final steel beam on the still to be completed building, one of three Salesforce towers in the location that will house 10,000 employees of the cloud software giant by the end of 2017.

A group prayer by interfaith representatives followed individual prayers and blessings that concluded with Archbishop Cordileone reciting the Prayer of St. Francis; a prayer which ends “For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”

In addition to Archbishop Cordileone, the participants were Rabbi Ryan Baur, Congregation Emanu-El (Jewish); Rev. Tova Green, Assistant to the Central Abbess, San Francisco Zen Center (Buddhist); Imam Abu Qadir Al Amin, Resident Imam, San Francisco Muslim Community Center (Muslim); Bishop Marc Andrus, Episcopal Diocese of California; Sister Chandru Desai, West Coast Director, Brahma Kumaris Meditation Center (Hindu).

Benioff and his wife Lynne have made a name for themselves as philanthropists mostly focused in the Bay Area. They donated $100 million in 2014 to the new UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital at Mission Bay, but also contribute on a smaller level, for instance donating $250,000 in matching funds to Catholic Charities for the Star Home for homeless women and children in 2012. Benioff has implemented policies at the cloud software giant to ensure men and women are paid equally for similar jobs. He made headlines in 2015 by threatening to pull Salesforce out of Indiana after the state passed a religious liberty law.

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