Catholic School's Students Boycott Anti-Abortion Rally

Some Catholic school administrators have decided to torpedo their chances of ever capturing the hearts of Gen Z.

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Hi and welcome back! Today’s story comes on the heels of us talking about Generation Z’s utter rejection of evangelical recruitment attempts. This time, some students at a Catholic high school boycotted a forced-birther event at their religious school. Their Dear Leaders are beyond torqued at these students’ refusal to play along with their ongoing crusade against human rights, too. One of them tried to say that caring about human rights represents a ‘culture.’ Today, let me show you why abortion rights are not actually a ‘culture’ — and why Catholic leaders decided to hold this assembly at all.

(Levi Meir Clancy.) An Iraqi cathedral that was destroyed by Islamic State. We oppose extremism from anyone, in all forms. Credit: Levi Meir Clancy / Unsplash

(Note: I use terms like “forced-birth” to describe the platforms we’ll be discussing today. I do not regard them as “pro-life” in any way. Their actual focus is on forcing women to gestate against their consent. They don’t care if their antics result in tons of dead women — heck, that’s a bonus win to many of them. And so they get described as forced-birth.)

These Students Win.

Not long ago, students at a Catholic high school in San Francisco boycotted a forced-birth event their school leaders insisted they attend. Not one of the Catholic links I saw describing this walkout gave an actual link to the original news story or even provided much solid information about it. In fact, most Catholic sources even tried to give the impression that not many students participated in this boycott.

But I tracked it down. It wasn’t a boycott. It was an actual walkout. And almost all of the students at this surprisingly-large Catholic school participated.

Here’s the story from San Francisco Chronicle:

Hundreds of students at Archbishop Riordan High School staged a walkout Friday during an all-school assembly that featured a prominent antiabortion speaker.

About five minutes into the presentation, during which staff members patrolled the doors, students at the Catholic high school exited the theater and walked into the gym, since school rules don’t permit them to leave campus. A few dozen of the school’s more than 800 students remained in the theater for the entire presentation. (Source)


I wish I could give them all a standing ovation. Well done! That’s the best way to respond to authoritarian overreach. I bet it gave every adult involved in this example of misinformation and indoctrination a conniption to see those students file out!

How Their Local Catholic Leader Responded.

The Archbishop of San Francisco, Salvatore Cordileone, was quite peeved, however. He has been working overtime to pressure Nancy Pelosi (a Catholic) to abandon her pro-choice stance. He’s 100-and-crazy-percent all-in on the anti-abortion culture war his cabal has been pushing for years.

So he took this stunning rejection personally — and attacked those students in retaliation.

He wrote an “open letter” for the blog First Things (which has also published dreck from our old pal John Mark Reynolds — are we sure they’re nonpartisan?). In it, Cordileone accused those students of suffering “blind spots” that left them vulnerable to “the culture” of human rights. He repeated the usual talking points of the forced-birth crowd, including long-debunked claims about abortion regret.

Among those talking points, he told the male students of the high school this:

There used to be a time when, if a man did something that caused inconvenience in his life [ahem], he would be a real man and take responsibility for it. It was also much more common for a man to respect a woman as his equal, and not use her for his own selfish pleasure. [Source]

He also tried to claim that forced-birthers are really the ones who are totally pro-choice. So NEENER NEENER, dumb high school kids.

There is just so much to unpack with this “open letter.” Every single claim he made is objectively false. Every argument he offered contains serious logical problems. Really, it’s dismaying that someone this incapable of rational discourse ever got made a big-time Catholic leader at all.

But I want to focus on one false accusation he made:

To all of you I say: Do not be victims of the culture. There are powerful forces in our country that use slogans to co-opt you into being agents of their own self-serving agendas. You must see through the lies.

In a lot of ways, that’s exactly what those students did.

Human Rights Are Not a “Culture.”

Catholic leaders despise, hate, and fear human rights. They always have.

And they kinda should.

Human rights, as a concept, hinges upon one idea above all:

Meaningful consent.

Humans own their own bodies. They can decide to do whatever they wish with their own bodies. If anybody at all wishes to impose on someone else’s body, they must gain that person’s consent. Consent can be withdrawn at any point, for any reason or no reason. Absolutely nobody gets a say in another person’s decisions — much less a vote, much less a veto. And it doesn’t matter who or what is doing the imposing, or what might happen to the imposing entity as a result of that refusal: consent always reigns supreme.

When we talk about abortion rights, we’re talking about a whole raft of human rights all tied together with a big ol’ pretty bow of consent.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) outlines all of the human rights embedded in abortion. If you check out their list, you’ll notice that they all apply to people of all genders. That’s why ferociously anti-abortion governments also tend not to be delightful utopias of joy, harmony, innovation, and kindness for men either.

None of that matters to Catholic leaders.

Catholic leaders used to rule through fire and the sword. They liked having absolute power over millions of people for centuries. Unfortunately for them, every single advance in human rights has only led people further away from obedience to their demands.

Human rights are not a “culture.” People who care about human rights are not seduced by the lies of a worldly “culture.” Really, I’d reckon it’s the other way around.

And Now, Let’s Check Out the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

Here is how the Archdiocese of San Francisco has demanded its male leaders handle life’s “inconveniences.” How they acted like “real men” and “took responsibility” for the pain they caused others. How they totally never used another person’s body “for their own selfish pleasure.”

  • “The Archdiocese of San Francisco recorded 148 child-molestation cases involving more than 50 priests over a five-decade period, according to a statistical study of U.S. archdioceses scheduled for release on Feb. 27.” (February 2004) Who else is surprised it’s that few?
  • A long list of San Francisco Archdiocese priests credibly accused of sexual abuse. (Source) Catholic leaders shuffled many of them around to other dioceses — years after that 2004 article was published.
  • In 2018, the archdiocese settled another US$87M on sex-abuse lawsuits. (Source) The source notes that Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone had not released a list of abusers. Instead, he whined about how clerical cover-ups of abuse represented “the deepest betrayal imaginable” to himself. Oh, and he lied about how many accusations of abuse his archdiocese has fielded. He claimed they’d had none since 2000.
  • In 2019, a sex-abuse survivor accused the archdiocese of covering up sex abuse. (Source) In addition, he accused them of refusing to release everything they know about sex abusers in their ranks.
  • Interestingly, we learned as well in 2019 that this particular archdiocese is one of the last in California to release its list of names of sex abusers. (Source) They’ve steadfastly refused to do it. Cordileone totally pinky-finger promised then that he’d be ready to release his archdiocese’s list by the summer — maybe, hopefully, he’d hafta see. That same article also mentions a lawsuit filed in San Francisco against the Vatican. It accuses the Church itself of “actively covering up sexual abuse” and seeks to “uncover the names and files of some 3,400 perpetrators.”
  • By June 2021, Cordileone still had not released that list. (Source) Instead, he was making news for trying to stop Catholic politicians from taking Eucharist if they support abortion rights. (Source)

In every single way, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone demonstrates his real concerns and priorities regarding life.

The Catholic Party Line — and a Theory.

Incidentally, I found some interesting stuff out about the school in today’s story, Archbishop Riordan High School.

As you might guess, the Catholic Church owns and runs this high school. And they insist, accordingly, that all of its students receive Catholic indoctrination as part of their education.

However, Catholic-owned schools like this one are having a lot of trouble these days. They’ve been failing more and more every year to attract enough students to support themselves. Simply put, not enough Catholic families exist who are willing to pay to send their kids to these schools. So the Catholic Church long ago opened its doors to non-Catholic students.

That worked for a long time to revive their sagging income. A lot of people regard these schools as superior to public schools. (They’re not.) But they’re often less expensive than secular private schools, so a family might opt to send their kids to one — even knowing the kids will face Catholic indoctrination.

Even in the late 1990s, I knew plenty of guys in Kansas who’d attended the local highly-rated Catholic prep high school. None of them had become remotely interested in Catholicism as a result. In fact, every one of them had firmly rejected all of the indoctrination the school had attempted to push onto them.

Not much seems like it’s changed. In that story about the walkout (relink), it looks like most of the students enrolled in this school aren’t actually Catholic themselves. But the timing of this whole mandatory assembly caught my eye.

Why Riordan High Suddenly Desperately Needed a Forced-Birth Assembly On That Particular Day.

See, this particular high school used to be boys-only. That only changed with this most recent school year.

A local girls-only Catholic private school closed last year. So Riordan High opened its doors to all students for the first time ever.

Even though that other school was Catholic, it sounds like its administration and teachers emphasized human rights — including female empowerment, egalitarianism, and reproductive rights. One of the students who walked out of the assembly said:

“It’s just so frustrating,” said Claire, who transferred to Riordan when Mercy High School, an all-girls school, closed last year. “It’s been so hard to go from an environment of female empowerment to someone telling me what I can and can’t do with my body.” [Source]

Man alive, you can bet those girls got a really eye-opening first look at the full double barrel of Catholic misogyny at this assembly. Not even their parents expected things to be this bad, from the sound of things.

But it was also absolutely necessary, I can easily imagine Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone thinking. He’d just had a huge influx of female students come into the formerly-sacrosanct crucible of future male Catholic leadership. He’d likely have known that their previous school was not completely on board with his party-line forced-birth message.

So he began their new school year at their new school with a metaphorical boot to their necks.

The Hilarious Way Catholic Leaders Are Torpedoing Their Remaining Credibility.

I just can’t, with toxic Christian leaders. I seriously just can’t.

It’s like they can’t even help themselves.

In an age when Catholicism is hemorrhaging young adults more than any other demographic, at a time when there is literally one ex-Catholic for every two actual Catholics in America, and with the “vast majority” of ex-Catholics saying there’s nothing they can imagine that might ever persuade them to return, this is how a big-name Catholic leader decides to handle students at one of his only remaining Catholic schools in his archdiocese.

In years past, it’s possible that Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone might have been able to get away with this kind of breathtaking overreach and nastiness. Heck, it’s even possible that some actual high-school students who care about human rights might have actually even seen his idiotic “open letter.” (These sorts of letters are almost always written as a virtue-signaling exercise for the tribe.)

But things have changed since Catholic leaders held that kind of dominance over anyone, even fervent Catholic pew-warmers.

Archbishop Cordileone gave these students a good helping of Catholic evil. Far from persuading them, Cordileone has only made them realize that Catholicism cares nothing about human rights. He has also taught them that Catholic leaders can’t coherently argue their positions.

I doubt they’ll forget this lesson any time soon.

NEXT UP: Speaking of toxic Christian leaders torpedoing what’s left of their cultural credibility, just wow.

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ROLL TO DISBELIEVE "Captain Cassidy" is Cassidy McGillicuddy, a Gen Xer and ex-Pentecostal. (The title is metaphorical.) She writes about the intersection of psychology, belief, popular culture, science,...

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