Context, please: About the 'controversial statements' by San Francisco's 'conservative' archbishop

Hold on for a wild ride because there's breaking news in San Francisco.

Believe it or not, the Roman Catholic archbishop of the City by the Bay is, apparently, Catholic. 

You read it here first. No, I'm kidding. The San Francisco Chronicle actually broke the news:

The conservative Roman Catholic archbishop of San Francisco has developed a new document for Catholic high school faculty and staff clarifying that sex outside of marriage, homosexual relations, the viewing of pornography and masturbation are “gravely evil.”
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s document applies to faculty and staff at four Catholic high schools: Riordan and Sacred Heart in San Francisco, Marin Catholic in Kentfield and Serra High School in San Mateo. It states that administrators, faculty and staff “affirm and believe” the controversial statements, which will be part of the faculty handbook.

So right away, the Chronicle makes clear that Cordileone is both "conservative" and releasing "controversial statements." 

What makes the archbishop "conservative?" His "controversial" beliefs, apparently:

Cordileone is no stranger to controversy, especially in one of the most liberal, gay-friendly cities in the world. Last summer, he led several thousand protesters in prayer against same-sex marriage outside the U.S. Supreme Court.

But what's new here?

Oh, nothing:

Chris Lyford, a spokesman for the diocese, said the document isn’t really anything new — just a clarification of longtime Catholic tenets.
“This is just a clarification of what’s been there for years,” he said.

The Associated Press Stylebook — "the journalist's bible" — offers this succinct guidance on the use of the term "controversial":

An overused word; avoid it.

Apparently, the Chronicle didn't get the style memo.

Sarcasm aside, here's what might take this story into the realm of actual news: Some context. 

Such context would answer questions such as: What agreement to abide by Catholic teachings did faculty and staff make when they were hired? Is the archbishop's document a change from the expectations previously placed on Catholic high school faculty and staff? Do faculty and staff themselves — as opposed to the news story's writer and editors — consider the statements "controversial?"

Is there a potentially good story here? Yes.

Did the Chronicle tell it? No. That would require some actual reporting.

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