March 4, 2015 - FCDF's view on the controversy involving Archbishop Cordileone
Below is a response to an email inquiry FCDF received regarding whether the California State Assembly has the right to intervene in how the Catholic Church runs its schools and designates its teachers. Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone recently made a few changes in the policies at Catholic schools in San Francisco. President and Chief Counsel responds to the question:
In response to your inquiry, there can be no serious question that the eight California lawmakers referenced in the Cal Catholic articleyou sent have absolutely no legal basis for their attempted interference in the internal affairs of the Catholic Diocese of San Francisco. Indeed, their attempt to do so is a rank violation of the "free exercise of religion" clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone has the absolute legal and moral responsibility to handle the matters concerning teacher contracts for the Diocese of San Francisco. In the Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC case, the U.S. Supreme Court made it perfectly clear, by a rare unanimous vote, that the government has no business interfering in Church decisions regarding the hiring and firing of teachers who serve in ministerial functions in a religious school. A good brief legal analysis of that recent landmark case can be found here.
It would be better for the people of California if the lawmakers at issue would stick to trying to do their own jobs better rather than trying to do Archbishop Cordileone's job for him. As the personal beneficiary of some 20 years of formal Catholic education, and a father of five children currently in Catholic schools, I can tell you that faithful Catholics certainly will continue to look to their excellent leaders like Archbishop Cordileone on matters of faith and morals. Moreover, we do not appreciate the meddling of politicians in the affairs of our Church, especially as it concerns the running of our Catholic schools and the religious education of our children. Obviously, if we felt otherwise, then we would simply send our children to public schools. Furthermore, as a Board Certified Civil Trial Advocate, with over 30 years’ experience, I can tell you that the statements and actions of these misguided lawmakers represent both bad law and public policy.
Charles S. LiMandri
Charles S. LiMandri, Esq.
President and Chief Counsel
Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund
P.O. Box 9520
Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067
(858) 759-9948 (tel)
(858) 759-9938 (fax)