Prominent Catholics Sign Full-Page Ad Asking Pope to Remove SF Archbishop

More than 100 prominent Catholics took out a full page ad in San Francisco's largest newspaper on Thursday asking Pope Francis to remove the city's archbishop, calling his moves "divisive" and counter to the group's desire for "respect and inclusion."

"Holy Father," the ad reads, "the City of Saint Francis deserves an Archbishop true to our values and to your teachings."

The list of signatories printed in the San Francisco Chronicle ad includes Tom Brady Sr., father of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady; former political consultant Clint Reilly and his wife, Janet; Brian Cahill, the retired executive director of Catholic Charities' former city commissioner; Boudin Bakery executive Lou Giraudo; and Charles Geschke, chairman of Adobe Systems and former head of the University of San Francisco Board of Trustees. There are physicians, doctors and professors who also signed on.

"This is not a group of fringe lunatics," attorney Michael Kelly said Thursday at a news conference, saying that he and others who signed the open letter are the "bedrock of the community."

The group's open letter to the pope seeks to remove San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, criticizing the conservative-leaning Catholic leader for asking teachers to sign a morality clause that says contraception is a sin and that characterizes same-sex relationships as "gravely evil." The ad also cites disappointment that a pastor was chosen who bans girls from altar service and that elementary school children were given pamphlets to read about masturbation and abortion.

In a statement sent out Wednesday ahead of the ad, the diocese responded that the ad misrepresented the archbishop and his positions.

"The greatest misrepresentation of all is that the signers presume to speak for 'the Catholic Community of San Francisco,'" the statement said. "They do not."

The statement added that the archdiocese "has met with a broad range of stakeholders. Together, we have engaged in a constructive dialogue on all of the issues raised in this ad. We welcome the chance to continue that discussion."

Cordileone also has his share of supporters. Some have raised $1,800 so far to host a picnic for their religious leader. Organizer Vivian Dudro said that there are a "lot of people who support the archbishop."

But the people who signed the ad hope they can garner some movement in getting Cordileone to leave. In their ad, they wrote that Cordileone "disregards advice from priests" and others, relying instead of a "tiny group of advisors" recruited from outside the San Francisco region. 

The Chronicle’s business department  would not tell the newspaper's columnists how much it cost, though Phil Matier and Andrew Ross said that full-page ads typically run in the tens of thousands of dollars.

NBC Bay Area's Bob Redell and Mark Matthews contributed to this report.

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