By Doug Sovern

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— The controversial head of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco has some very public critics, but now he has some equally public defenders. A new group of San Francisco Catholics has formed to support Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone.

More than 100 prominent Catholics published an open letter in Thursday’s San Francisco Chronicle asking that Pope Francis replace Cordileone. But a new group calling itself SFCatholics.org says its numbers are in the thousands and it is coming to the defense of their archbishop, saying he’s being unfairly maligned.

“Most of the people involved are just your average Catholics trying to follow the teachings of the church and they want to support the archbishop,” said organizer Mark Brumley.

He said his group is an independent, grass-roots organization with no affiliation with the Archdiocese – which has come under fire for asking teachers to agree to a morality code, banning altar girls from one parish, vehemently opposing same-sex marriage, and pouring water on sleeping homeless outside St. Mary’s Cathedral.

Brumley says Cordileone is a good man whose work is consistent with Catholic teachings.

“This [published] letter misrepresents. It implies that the Archbishop is at odds with Pope Francis when nothing could be further from the truth.”

The new group will mount public support for the archbishop. It has already launched a successful GoFundMe fundraiser campaign where they seek $4,000 for an “Archbishop Family Support Day,” which involves a picnic. As of Friday afternoon, the group has almost reached that goal with less than $400 to go.

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