San Francisco’s archbishop is in the crosshairs of powerful cultural foes — other Catholics.  

A recent transgression occurred in February when he reminded San Francisco’s Catholic high school teachers that, in their public lives, they must be exemplars of the Gospel to their students — making it a contractual necessity.  

This is no hireling shepherd silently watching while wolves savage his flock. Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone — his surname means “Lionheart” — has thrown his gauntlet in the face of a sexual idol fed by conceit and selfishness, insistently demanding acceptance. He labels it “toxic confusion,” using the Catechism of the Catholic Church to rightly tag sinful relationships as “gravely evil.”

The archbishop proposes to reawaken San Francisco’s Catholic teachers to Catholic teaching: any sinful indulgence is an affront to God and their own human dignity, and imperils their immortal souls.

Imagine. Acting counterculturally in a city notorious for its countercul-turalism.

On April 16, over 100 disappointed “prominent Catholics” signed a full-page ad in the San Francisco Chronicle, an open letter to Pope Francis, replete with flimsily concocted reasons for ousting the archbishop. Predictably, they started with:

“We are committed Catholics inspired by Vatican II.”

The critics’ vague appeal to “Vatican II” is shorthand for, “We’re hip and he’s not.” Foreseeing this, Archbishop Cordileone’s February message to teachers cites Gravissimum Educationis, Vatican II’s declaration on Catholic education: “Catholic schools [assist] Catholic parents in their primary duty of educating their children in virtue, holiness and their ability to evangelize others in society.” Virtue, holiness and evangelization to neutralize “toxic confusion”? The pope’s not going to like that?

“We believe in the tradition of conscience, respect and inclusion upon which our Catholic faith was founded … built on a rich tradition of diversity. The archdiocese has created a remarkable system of churches, schools, hospitals, homes for the elderly and support services for those in need.”

Bosh. Christ forgave sinners but still commanded they “sin no more.”  Catholic teachers are called to instruct students with holiness, not train them in immoral sexual liaisons.

Incidentally, our Catholic system of churches, schools, hospitals and charities in the U.S. happened only after we overcame innumerable legal obstacles dreamt up by federal, state and local politicians anxious to quash Catholic aspirations to take care of our own.

“Upon threat of losing their jobs, [the archbishop] coerces educators and staff in our Catholic high schools to accept a morality code which violates individual consciences as well as California labor laws.”

A scare tactic; more bosh. To the contrary, Archbishop Cordileone wrote: “I wish to state clearly and emphatically that the intention underlying this document is not to target for dismissal from our schools any teachers, singly or collectively, nor does it introduce anything essentially new into the contract or the faculty handbook.”

“The City of Saint Francis deserves an archbishop true to our values … ”

What’s this “our values”?  Catholicism is fine elsewhere but needs upgrading to meet San Francisco standards? What chutzpah! Do I hear echoes of “Non serviam”? The Chronicle describes Archbishop Cordileone’s opponents as “prominent  (i.e., well-heeled, sexually ambiguous, selectively-believing, socially progressive)  Catholics,” apparently prominent in money and influence; not so much in humility.

It’s never been easy being Catholic in America, but the Catholic Church, guided by the Holy Spirit and built on the rock of Peter, is not some hodgepodge tossed together to justify the vicissitudes of transient fads.

Fortitude is a gift of the Holy Spirit. History continually shows that wherever a strong bishop defends the faith, the Church blossoms.