An Archbishop Refuses to be Bullied

By: Sr. Clare Hunter

It is a strange and scary thing when civil authorities write to a bishop and tell him how to live his faith and mission. Do not let the issue of homosexuality or the politically charged same-sex marriage agenda blind you to what is really going on here. The letter written to Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone by California government leaders and various gay activists and religious groups, as well as a letter from U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, telling him not to attend the second annual March for Marriage in Washington, D.C., on June 19, 2014, was about a group telling a man how he should act as a Catholic Archbishop.

So how should we feel about government officials deciding what acceptable Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone Nancy Pelosi-x400Catholic behavior should be? In fact, some of the signers of the letter portray themselves as faithful, devout Catholics, yet they do not agree with Catholic Church teachings. Predictably, they use Pope Francis, wrenching his words “Who am I to judge?” to mean “Anything goes!”  Ironically, this does not seem to apply to Archbishop Cordileone attending the March for Marriage. Who are they to judge his attendance? The very Pope they attempt to use as a rhetorical weapon, only four years ago fought against politicians in Argentina just like them!

Let’s be honest: We all try to separate our actions from our person.  We are all pretty convinced that just because we “haven’t killed anybody,” our lies, infidelities, selfishness, and inactive faith life aren’t so bad. We are “good people,” even spiritual. But following the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Ten Commandments seem, quite frankly, just too hard, rather optional really. Sometimes being Catholic can be downright embarrassing, especially when you do not agree with the truths of God’s law, or you don’t even know what they are. Without sound catechesis and an active prayer and sacramental life, attempting to live as a Catholic in the public square can be difficult. Pretty quickly, truth becomes relative. At times even hostile. We want our faith, without the truth it teaches. It is the American “right” that comes with the privatization of religion. Catholics have bought into the rhetoric: I’m Catholic, but my faith isn’t part of my public life. Wasn’t that the great demand made of President John Kennedy? And certainly many, if not most, of our Catholic politicians now live by this construct.

In the letter written to Archbishop Cordileone, the authors quoted Pope Francis, saying: “If someone is gay, who searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” What they failed to include were the strong words of then Cardinal Bergoglio, who adamantly fought against same-sex marriage in Argentina in 2010, stating:

“In the coming weeks, the Argentine people will face a situation whose outcome can seriously harm the family…At stake is the identity and survival of the family: father, mother and children. At stake are the lives of many children who will be discriminated against in advance, and deprived of their human development given by a father and a mother and willed by God. At stake is the total rejection of God’s law engraved in our hearts….let us not be naive: this is not simply a political struggle, but it is an attempt to destroy God’s plan. It is not just a bill (a mere instrument) but a ‘move’ of the father of lies who seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.”[1]

Archbishop Cordileone is, in fact, doing exactly what Pope Francis would ask him to do; what, in fact, he himself did: act like a Catholic Archbishop. In his response to the letter urging that he not attend the March for Marriage, the Archbishop of San Francisco teaches us what that means:

“I appreciate your affirmation of my Church’s teaching—not unique to our religion, but a truth accessible to anyone of good will—on the intrinsic human dignity of all people, irrespective of their stage and condition in life.  That principle requires us to respect and protect each and every member of the human family, from the precious child in the womb to the frail elderly person nearing death.  It also requires me, as a bishop, to proclaim the truth—the whole truth—about the human person and God’s will for our flourishing. I must do that in season and out of season, even when truths that it is my duty to uphold and teach are unpopular, including especially the truth about marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife. That is what will be doing on June 19th.”[2]

On Thursday, many Catholics, and those of other faiths, will be joining him in voicing the importance of marriage and family, and the right for a child to have a mother and a father. Incidentally, the Italian name Cordileone means “heart of the lion.”  So how should we feel about government officials attempting to decide what acceptable Catholic behavior should be? Fortunately, the good archbishop answers the question for us. The Archbishop courageously imitates the “Lion of Judah,” Jesus Christ Himself, in presenting timeless essential truth, based in true love and charity.

Please see Bishop Paul Loverde’s statement in support of Archbishop Cordileone here.

[1] National Catholic Register. (2010, July 8). Retrieved from 

[2] Archdiocese of San Francisco. (2014, June 16). Retrieved from

2 thoughts on “An Archbishop Refuses to be Bullied

  1. This is awesomely well put Sr. Clare Hunter!

    Homosexual acts are mortally sinful when the usual three conditions for full culpability are present.

    It seems as though the LGBT community largely wants acceptance of homosexual acts as good and virtuous whereas Our Lady Of Fatima and Our Lady of Akita have given us a stern warning of things to come if society continues to be perched on its precipice.

    As a completely and solely heterosexual 52 year old man single man, I do not have the right to go out on one night stands with women nor engage in any other volitionally informed sexual behavior outside of Sacramental Marriage. So why should those in the LGBT community have special privileges and be looked upon as virtuous because of their sexual orientation.

    Same sex attraction is and of itself not sinful. However, same sex attraction is disordered and those who are gay, lesbian, or bi-sexual should be encouraged to live a chaste lifestyle and abstain from LGBT behavior.

    I am starting to feel like a social outsider in light of attempts by the LGBT community to feminize men and make women more masculine.

    The usual non-sense purveyed by psychologists and sociologists that every one has same sex attraction is something that I cannot relate to, So, social scientists are largely complacent in encouraging free expression of LGBT emotions, feelings, and impulses.

  2. While I recognize the conflict that is occurring in the public arena, I must protest the inflammatory language used in this article. The words of the letter and the words of Sr. Flare do not match up, and fall prey to the very same fallacy that is expressed in the letter.

    The opening paragraph of the letter contains the only “demand” made on the archbishop, in the words “respectfully request”. Apparently, by the title of this article, the editors feel that this amounts to “bullying”. If only all bullies were so cordial! The article goes on to use many inflammatory adjectives to describe that request: ” telling the archbishop how to live his faith and mission”, “deciding what acceptable catholic behavior should be”.

    If we are hyper-reactive to this relatively tame affront to the voice of the Catholic Church in the public arena, how are we to respond to the more severe attacks on our faith? Are we not falling prey to the very trap that is laid in this letter, that we should be discounted as unsound reason and unstable emotion? The letter appears sound and reasonable, and the archbishop’s response is eminently sound and well spoken. This article is nothing short of inflammatory, and fails to respond to the inflammatory emotional appeal in the letter.

    While I commend Sr. Clare on her excellent portrayal of the errors of ” Cafeteria Catholicism”, I feel that in preparing Catholics to discuss social issues in the public sphere, this article falls short. Rather than respond to an emotional appeal with indignation, perhaps a rational voice would be more effective. Perhaps taking apart the emotional challenge and showing the fallacy of basing morality on emotion would better suit the timeless Church to confront the issues of this age.

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