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Respect my religious freedom, San Francisco archbishop tells legislators

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, of San Francisco (AP/Patrick Semansky)

The Archbishop of San Francisco has told legislators in California that he respects their right “to employ or not employ whomever you wish to advance your mission” and expects the same in return.

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s comments came in a letter to five state assembly members and three senate members after they urged him to remove Catholic sexual morality clauses that have been added to handbooks for teachers in four archdiocesan high schools.

The lawmakers told Archbishop Cordileone in a letter they believed the clauses would “foment a discriminatory environment” and “send an alarming message to youth”.

But the archbishop told them before making a judgment, they should have as complete information as possible about what the archdiocese is proposing and he directed them to various documents and videos on the archdiocesan website to dispel misinformation, “such as the falsehood that the morality clauses apply to the teachers’ private life”.

The Archdiocese of San Francisco is also proposing three new clauses to contracts for teachers in archdiocesan Catholic high schools to further clarify that Catholic schools – as the first clause states – “exist to affirm and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ as held and taught by his Catholic Church”.

The archdiocese is adding detailed statements of Catholic teaching on sexual morality and religious practice, taken from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, into the faculty and staff handbooks of the four archdiocesan high schools.

The handbook additions will take effect in the 2015-16 school year and are not part of the contract.