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Unwarranted attacks on church, clerics

March 6, 2015
Roger Ritter
San Francisco

I am concerned at what I see as an increasing crescendo of anti-Catholic, or at the very least, anti-clerical attacks upon the Catholic Church in San Francisco. I know of no other religious group that is so thoroughly trashed in the popular press and media as is our church. For example, in January my family and I walked up Market Street, along with some 50,000 other people, to support the value of human life and to express our concerns about abortion on demand. Not only were we not joined by any public official, but the official attitude is to ridicule our efforts and to suggest that we are somehow out-of-step with “San Francisco values.” The archbishop is constantly under attack in the local press for maintaining the teachings of the Catholic Church on marriage and family. Worse, the same press sets up a false comparison between him and Pope Francis, suggesting that some of the pope’s statements about not judging others and treating all people with compassion – which are themselves core Catholic teachings – have somehow changed Catholic moral teaching on marriage and sexuality, when the pope has changed the emphasis, not the teaching itself.

The recent coverage over what is basically an employment contract issue – the so-called “morality clauses” – has been used as yet another opportunity to attack the archbishop and the church. All the archbishop has done is to restate the teachings of the church, citing the specific sections of the Catechism of the Catholic Church upon which they are based. Many of those teachings that are reaffirmed in the document, e.g., the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, have nothing whatsoever to do with sexuality. The local press has of course focused on those that do. The document also expressly states that it deals with public behavior, not private conduct, but that important distinction is also conveniently overlooked. The archdiocese and the union are trying to resolve disputes over that language. Frankly, I do not understand why the Board of Supervisors has taken sides in a private labor issue that is being negotiated between the archdiocese and the unions, when neither side has requested such intervention.

Finally, no other religious group in San Francisco is constantly being attacked for its teachings on marriage, family and sexuality.

I regret having to write this letter, but I regret even more that our church, whose adherents founded this city, and who named it after a Catholic saint, is subject to such unrelenting attacks. 

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