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Faithful Sisters Protest Day of Silence

marin catholicCommentary by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS

A Catholic high school in the troubled Archdiocese of San Francisco is the scene of a new uproar after a group of faithful Dominican Sisters walked out of their classrooms last Friday to protest the national Day of Silence which is orchestrated by an organization that promotes homosexuality among school students.

The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting on the five nuns who left their classrooms at Marin Catholic High School last Friday to protest the handing out of Day of Silence-related materials in the school which was not officially commemorating the day.

Sister Clare Marie, one of the sisters who left her classroom, later told her students in a lengthy e-mail that she left the classroom because she “felt compromised, offended and uncomfortable” by the handing out of materials that promoted the so-called “anti-bullying program” by the gay activist group, Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.

She went on to explain to her students that the sisters “do not support bigotry or any kind of prejudice,” but that they felt compelled to protest an event promoted by a group that “believes actively in promoting homosexuality in all classrooms, K-12.”

Marin Catholic High President Tim Navone and Principal Chris Valdez immediately sent a letter to parents calling the incident “a challenging day on our campus resulting in both students and faculty feeling confused about our mission.”

They explained that the school had opted not to participate in the Day of Silence program. Instead, they drew attention to the problem of bullying by reading a prayer over the PA system to “acknowledge students everywhere who have the experience of being ostracized, marginalized or silenced by bullying,” the letter stated.

marin cathoilc highThe administrators believe a mixup occured when the school was linked on Facebook to the GLSEN campaign which was misinterpreted as support for “an activist group with which we are not affiliated.’’

The latest ruckus is just another salvo directed at Catholic education in the Bay Area where Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone has been under heavy fire for months for insisting that Catholic school teachers agree to uphold Church teaching in their public and professional lives.

A day before the sisters walked out of their classroom, 100 local Catholics published a full page ad in a local paper asking Pope Francis to remove him from San Francisco. The ad accuses the Archbishop of promoting “divisive” policies that are “threatening the long-term health of the Archdiocese.”

The Archbishop’s office responded with a statement calling the ad “a misrepresentation of Catholic teaching, a misrepresentation of the nature of the teacher contract, and a misrepresentation of the spirit of the archbishop. The greatest misrepresentation of all is that the signers presume to speak for 'the Catholic Community of San Francisco. They do not.”

Catholic League President Bill Donohue contacted the Archbishop this past weekend to see if the League could help in any way and said he found Cordileone to be “very much in command of the situation” and appreciative of all the help and support he’s been getting from Catholics across the country.

“Please keep him in your prayers,” Donohue wrote on April 20. “He is a true prince of the Church.”

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