Countless Catholic-oriented or pro-family web sites are publishing photos and video footage of the sacrilegious scandal that took place at Most Holy Redeemer Parish in San Francisco on the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, in which two transvestites dressed as nuns received Holy Communion from the Archbishop’s hands.1
“Sacrilege is in general the violation or injurious treatment of a sacred object. In a less proper sense any transgression against the virtue of religion would be a sacrilege. …It is customary to enumerate three kinds of sacrilege: personal, local, and real. St. Thomas teaches (Summa, II-II, Q., 99) that a different sort of holiness is attached to persons, places, and things. Hence the irreverence offered to any one of them is specifically distinct from that which is exhibited to the others. …Real sacrilege is the irreverent treatment of sacred things as distinguished from places and persons. This can happen first of all by the administration or reception of the sacraments (or in the case of the Holy Eucharist by celebration) in the state of mortal sin, as also by advertently doing any of those things invalidly. Indeed deliberate and notable irreverence towards the Holy Eucharist is reputed the worst of all sacrileges.”
A Scene out of the “Theatre of the Absurd”
What happened at Most Holy Redeemer Church in San Francisco is so outlandish that it recalls a type of theater play in the mid-twentieth century called the “Theatre of the Absurd” which had personages who were not what they appeared to be, dialogues that made no sense and plots that lacked any meaning.2
The video clip shows the Archbishop of San Francisco, Most Reverend George H. Niederauer celebrating Mass at Most Holy Redeemer Parish. Among the congregation are two men posing as women and wearing imitation nun habits. One of them is tall and with a moustache and has on his head a headdress of ribbons with the colors of the rainbow, a symbol used by the homosexual movement. Both have white makeup on their faces and the shorter one has painted lips and wears a necklace of “pearls.” At the hour of the sign of peace, the two discreetly kiss each other and then exchange greetings with other attendants.
Everything about them identifies them as members of the homosexual group3 called the “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.”4 Their motto is a sacrilegious parody of Our Lord’s words for the adulteress (“Go, and now sin no more,” John 8:11): “Go forth and sin some more!” 5 This group has enjoyed a close relationship with the parish for some time.6
Then the Archbishop begins to distribute Holy Communion, the two transvestites join the line. When the turn came for the mustached one, the Archbishop gives him a blessing, then, but after a short (inaudible) dialogue, gives him Communion in his black-gloved hands. The transvestite with painted lips receives Communion without any problem.
At the end of the clip, one can see the two transvestites entirely at ease at the coffee-and-donuts session after Mass, conversing a few steps away from the Archbishop.
Apologies and Explanations
On October 11, 2007 the archdiocese made public the archbishop’s weekly column in the Catholic San Francisco (to be published on its October 19 issue) in which the Most Rev. George H. Niederauer presented his apologies “to the Catholics of the Archdiocese of San Francisco and to Catholics at large.”7
Along with the apologies, the Archbishop added “some additional explanation,” which is a bit confusing. He said that since he did not realize the transvestites belonged to the “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence,”8 he “did not recognize either of them as wearing mock religious garb.” And he continued: “After the event, I realized that they were members of this particular organization and that giving them Holy Communion had been a mistake.”
And then comes the archbishop’s apology:
“I apologize to the Catholics of the Archdiocese of San Francisco and to Catholics at large for doing so. The manner of dress and public comportment of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence is deeply offensive to women religious and to the witness of holiness and Christian service that women religious have offered to the Church and to the world for centuries.”
Many Catholics found that the apology was “terribly incomplete” since the Archbishop apologizes only for having given Communion to persons dressed “in a mock religious habit” which is “deeply offensive to women religious” without a word about the sacrilegious insult perpetrated against the Holy Eucharist, let alone the gravity of the vice of sodomy.9
That omission is all the more lamentable since, as many have noted, Archbishop Niederauer has previously taken many disconcerting stands in regard to homosexuality. To cite only two of those, when he was the diocesan bishop of Salt Lake City he opposed an initiative to hold a state constitutional referendum to ban “same-sex marriage.” Last year, as Archbishop in San Francisco, he praised the homosexual propaganda movie, Brokeback Mountain.10
A ‘Thank You’ From the “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence”
The Most Holy Redeemer parish bulletin of October 14 carried a “thank-you” note titled “An Email from One of Those Attending Mass.” It was written by “Delta Goodhand,” listed on the web site of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence as “Sister Delta Goodhand.” “Sister” Delta Goodhand’ writes:
“To all the Folks at Most Holy Redeemer: Just a quick note to recognize the wonderful Mass yesterday at your Church to welcome Archbishop Niederauer. Your entire congregation was so welcoming and it was great to be able to participate in the Mass. The service was absolutely beautiful and I know that I personally walked away very inspired by both the Archbishop’s message and the angelic voices of your choir ringing in my ears! Amazing! Afterwards, one of the parishioners offered us a blue ‘MHRC: An Inclusive Catholic Church’ pin that I was proud to wear through the Castro Fair. You are a wonderfully inclusive church!”11
The Archbishop’s order, the parish deleted the message from the online bulletin.12 Nevertheless, a no less surprising message appeared in the MHR Parish Bulletin on October 14, 2007, in which the parish thanks those who helped set up its stand for an event with heavy homosexual presence (to say the least):
“We would like to thank the Young Adult Group for staffing the parish information booth at the Castro Street Fair. Thank you also to the Support Group for facilitating the parish’s presence in this neighborhood celebration.”13
At the site of the Castro Street Fair itself one can see the heavy homosexual participation in the event, which featured shows with “drag queens” and the transvestite “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.” There is also a general ambience of immorality.14
“An Openly gay Member of the Church’s Parish Council”
The homosexual publication Bay Area Reporter15 in an article by Matthew S. Bajko titled “Political Notebook: SF Archbishop in Hot Water,” interviewed a member of the Parish Council of Most Holy Redeemer Church. He wrote:
Matt Dorsey, an openly gay member of the church’s parish council, dismissed the criticisms against the Sisters receiving the Eucharist as having little to do with Catholicism. …. “This organization [the Saint Joseph Men’s Association] is a hard right fundamentalist group that does not represent mainstream Catholics, and frankly, does not espouse any teaching of Jesus Christ I am aware of,” said Dorsey. “The same people object to Communion being given to Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, and Rudy Giuliani. The truth is this isn’t about religion; it is about the culture war and their efforts to drag the archbishop into it.” As for the archbishop’s apology, Dorsey called it narrowly tailored. “He apologized for not knowing what was going on,” he said. “The Sisters are irreverent but also share a mission of social justice with the church. They do a lot of important work for our community.”16
Genuine pastoral leads people to practice virtue
Holy Scriptures, the Magisterium of the Church and Natural Law clearly condemn homosexual practice.17 Although a deviant sexual inclination is not sinful of itself, it is nevertheless a disorder that must not be encouraged. Those who suffer from same-sex attraction must be helped with an apostolate filled with charity, but one that emphasizes moral principles.18
A parish willing to carry out this type of apostolate with the discretion and prudence that the matter requires cannot fail to emphasize the gravity of sin and the grandeur of divine mercy. At the same time, it must seek to strengthen the life of grace through an assiduous frequentation of the sacraments, particularly confession and Holy Communion. It also must alert those it is helping to the evils of the so-called gay culture that exalts vice and destroys the sense of the true dignity of the human person, at times vilifying it to an unimaginable degree.
In short, a true pastoral policy must lead people, whatever their problems may be, to the true love of Our Lord Jesus Christ, a fruit of obedience to the Commandments and fidelity to His teachings. On the eve of his Passion, the Savior taught the Apostles:
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
“Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me.
“Whoever loves me will keep my word.”
“Whoever does not love me does not keep my words” (John 14:15, 21-24).
Parish that Favors Vice
Instead of helping people overcome their bad inclinations, the “pastoral” policy of Most Holy Redeemer Parish, where the above mentioned Eucharistic sacrilege took place, favors vice.
The pastor of this parish is Fr. Steve Merriwether, a graduate in sacred theology, and, until recently, chancellor of the archdiocese. It is not easy to see how this pastor implements the maxim attributed to Saint Augustine, “Hate the sin, love the sinner.” Where, for example, is “hate the sin” in this salutation to the faithful?
“You will find [in Most Holy Redeemer Parish] the good people of our parish old, young, married, gay, lesbian, transgender, affluent, homeless, blue-collar, converts, cradle Catholics, radical, traditional, questioning, fervent.”19
On the Internet, his parish is presented as follows:
“[An] inclusive Catholic community embracing all people of good faith, Catholics as well as those people interested in learning about the Catholic experience, regardless of their background, gender, race, social status or sexual orientation. …The parish offers a spiritual home to all: senior citizens and youth; single people and families; those who are straight, gay and lesbian; the healthy and the sick, particularly persons with HIV disease.”20
Here one can clearly notice the influence of homosexual ideology, which subversively mixes radically different categories such as race, age, gender and social status, with moral behavior.
However, Father Steve does more than just offer verbal support. He encourages, even with his priestly blessing, a group of the parish to participate officially in an event called “Gay Pride” by carrying a large sign with the name of the parish.21 Such an attitude by the parish pastor not only favors this vice against nature but encourages parishioners to mix with semi-dressed or even totally undressed men and women, exalting all types of deviations, even the most brutal ones.22
An Auxiliary Force of the Homosexual Movement
The photo gallery of the parish site contains such contradictory entries as “[Gay] Pride” and “Easter” and “Christmas.” In the “Pride” section, (confirmed by video clips of another web site)23 one sees the pastor, in vestments, sprinkling holy water on those who will participate in an event that denies not only the elementary principles of morals but even plain decency.
Accordingly, the parish has lent or rented its premises for homosexual events. Thus, in 2006 they hosted “Revival Bingo” promoted by the “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.”That game included immoral acts and offered “pornographic DVDs and ‘sex toys’” as prizes.24
Due to the strong negative reaction, the archdiocese forbade the continuation of this event.25 The subsequent lamentation by the homosexual group is meaningful: “The San Francisco Archdiocese bowed to right-wing pressure and kicked the Sisters out of Most Holy Redeemer Church.”26
On September 29, 007, the parish hosted a show of transvestites titled “Desperate Divas 2008 Grand Drag Pageant,”which the organizers described as follows: “Twelve of the Bay Area’s most delicious drag divas will compete for the Crown and Title of Miss Desperate Diva 2008, culminating in the big reveal of who will grace the cover of the 2008 Desperate Divas Drag calendar, which will be available for purchase for the first time at the event.”27
Tip of an Iceberg?
Is Most Holy Redeemer Parish of San Francisco an isolated case, or are there others which, though in a less scandalous fashion, are also influenced by the ideology of Homosexual Movement?
In the “Resources” section of the web site of Most Holy Redeemer Parish is a link to Catholic Lesbians. These are people who believe they can maintain an amorous homosexual relationship and continue being good Catholics, as reflected in the “Shared Stories” section.28This site also presents a list of more than 150 “Gay & Lesbian Friendly Parishes” throughout the United States.29 The same list can be found on the web site of St. Bernadette Parish of Severn, Maryland.30
Both sites define “Gay & Lesbian Friendly Parishes”as those “known as welcoming to membership and participation by lesbian and gay Catholics because of pastoral outreach or simply because the staff and parishioners are open and welcoming.”
Does the list reflect reality and to what degree can it be said that these parishes adopt the homosexual ideology? It is difficult to verify. However, the two examples on hand are significant.
In the “Gay and Lesbian Ministry” section of its web site, St. Bernadette Parish has this “Mission Statement”: “As a parish committed to an attitude of welcome and firmly opposed to discrimination in all its forms, we declare our support for gay and lesbian Catholics.” For this reason, the parish “welcome[s] sexual minorities” and wishes “to educate ourselves, the church community, to the existence of unexamined prejudice and to the consequences of injustice. We will work to end discrimination toward gay and lesbian people within and outside of the church community.”31
Not a word is said about the intrinsic immorality of the homosexual act and the particular gravity of this sin. This is consistent with the parish’s participation in “Pride Day,” a major homosexual event in Baltimore32 as can be seen in its photo gallery.33
On the site of one of the parishes mentioned on the list is St. Joan of Arc of Minneapolis which has a “community groups” called “St. Joan of Arc’s GLBT Community.” That “Community” defends adoption by “same-sex parents”34 and makes its own the statements by an “openly gay Pediatrician” who, though pointing out the risks homosexual practice brings to the youth, claims: “They’re self determined, proud, courageous, strong and resilient.”35
Struggle in defense of the true Catholic Doctrine
Like an iceberg, where most of the ice is submerged and only the tip protrudes above the surface of the ocean, the sacrilege at Most Holy Redeemer and the deviations of these “ministries” are just reminders of the massive threat to Catholic faith and morals posed by the unchecked subversion of the homosexual movement within the Church.
- The video was made on the initiative of the Saint Joseph Men’s Association. Its president, Anthony Gonzales, declared to LifeSiteNews.com that his group decided to film the event and “let the evidence speak for itself.” ( http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2007/oct/07101004.html) Cf. http://www.qdomine.com/Morality_pages/MHR.htm; “San Francisco Catholic Archbishop George Niederauer Gives Communion to Blasphemous ‘Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence,’” October 9, 2007 http://www.americansfortruth.org/. Complete coverage: http://www.qdomine.com/Morality_pages/MHR_media.htm.
- Joseph F. Delany, “Sacrilege,” in The Catholic Encyclopedia, at http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13321a.htm (emphasis ours).
- The indiscriminate use of the word homosexual and its synonyms has generated much confusion in the public. Many times, it is unclear if it refers to someone with same-sex attraction only or if it refers to someone who practices homosexual acts. This confusion favors the homosexual agenda. We cannot equate people with same-sex attraction who resist it and are chaste with those who engage in homosexual behavior. These are two distinct and essentially different moral realities. Thus, we use homosexual to refer only to those who practice homosexual acts and thereby deserve moral reprobation.
- “The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Inc. is a leading-edge Order of queer nuns. … The Sisters believe all people have a right to express their unique joy and beauty and use humor and irreverent wit to expose the forces of bigotry, complacency and guilt that chain the human spirit.” (http://thesisters.org/).
- Cf. http://thesisters.org/; http://thesisters.org/sistory.html.
- “The Sisters Are Forced to Cancel November and December REVIVAL Bingo On October 31, 2006. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence were informed that we could no longer rent Ellard Hall by the Parish Council President, Nick Andrade. This was both a shock and a surprise as we have worked very closely with Most Holy Redeemer Church to provide fundraising services for both the Church and other beneficiaries.” (The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Inc. regret to announce ? REVIVAL Bingo Has Lost Its Lease, at http://revivalbingo.com/). Cf. also Matthew S. Bajko, Political Notebook: SF archbishop in hot water, at http://www.ebar.com/news/article.php? sec=news&article=2340
- Column by Archbishop George H. Niederauer, Catholic San Francisco, October 19, 2007, http://www.sfarchdiocese.org/ABN20071011.pdf.
- As Phil Lawler has remarked, “the archbishop says that he did not recognize the two men as members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. But can he seriously expect us to believe that he did not recognize them as homosexual demonstrators?” Phil Lawler, “The Forum: Archbishop Niederauer’s Unacceptable Apology,”special to CWNews.com, Oct. 12, 2007 (CWNews.com), at http://www.cwnews.com/news/viewstory.cfm?recnum=54136.
- “‘The manner of dress and public comportment of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence is deeply offensive to women religious,’ Archbishop Niederauer wrote. That is true, but terribly incomplete. The behavior of these defiant homosexual protestors is deeply offensive to all Catholics. Far, far more important, it is deeply offensive to Jesus Christ, whose Body and Blood they desecrated with the archbishop’s compliance.” Phil Lawler, “The Forum: Archbishop Niederauer’s Unacceptable Apology,” op. cit.
- Cf. John-Henry Westen, “Apologizing San Francisco Archbishop Has History of “Mistakes” Related to Homosexuality,” Lifesitenews.com , Friday October 12, 2007, http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2007/oct/07101204.html.
- Cf. Hilary White and John-Henry Westen, Archbishop Tells Catholic Church to Remove Thank-you from Transvestite ‘Sister’ from Online Version of Bulletin ? Archbishop Aware of Parish Participation in Gay Pride Parade Featuring Full Frontal Nudity, Tuesday October 16, 2007, at http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2007/oct/07101601.html.
- Retrieved on 10/19/2007 5:35 PM from “MHR Parish Bulletin,” October 14, 2007 at http://www.mhr.org/bulletin/2007/Oct142007.html
- Cf. http://www.castrostreetfair.org/mainpage.html.
- “Bay Area Reporter is San Francisco’s oldest and largest local newspaper of record serving the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.” (http://www.ebar.com/about/)
- Cf. TFP Committee On American Studies, Defending a Higher Law – Why We Must Resist Same-Sex “Marriage” and the Homosexual Movement, (Spring Grove: 2004) The American Society For The Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, TFP.
- Cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter To The Bishops Of The Catholic Church On The Pastoral Care Of Homosexual Persons, http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19861001_homosexual-persons_en.html.
- Retrieved on 10/19/2007 6:34 PM from http://www.mhr.org/FrSteve.html
- Cf. http://www.mhr.org/gallery3.htm.
- Cf. http://www.basetree.com/photos/ 2007-lgbt-pride-parade.html. This and other homosexual sites are mentioned out of strict necessity for documentation; obviously, these sites should be visited only if there is a sufficiently grave reason to justify it, and even so, with extreme caution.
- “In November 2006, the parish [Most Holy Redeemer] was in the news again when it was revealed by Catholic groups that it had sponsored a bingo night to raise funds for the group, whose motto is ‘go and sin some more’. Among the prizes for the bingo, that included sexually explicit activities, were pornographic DVDs and ‘sex toys.’” (Hilary White and John-Henry Westen, “Archbishop Tells Catholic Church to Remove Thank-you from Transvestite ‘Sister’ from Online Version of Bulletin at http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2007/oct/07101601.html)” See also, Sister Dana Van Iquity, “Sisters’ Revival Bingo is Back!,” San Francisco Bay Times, September 14, 2006, at http://www.sfbaytimes.com/?sec=article& article_id=5496.
- Cf. “The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Inc. regret to announce REVIVAL Bingo Has Lost Its Lease,” http://revivalbingo.com; Hilary White and John-Henry Westen, “Archbishop Tells Catholic Church to Remove Thank-you from Transvestite ‘Sister’ from Online Version of Bulletin” at http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2007/oct/07101601.html.
- http://www.sfstation.com/sf-desperate-divas-2008-drag-calendar-grand-pageant-e122441; http://www.sfbg.com/blogs/pixel_vision/2007/09/divas_get_desperate.html and http://ebar.com/news/article.php?sec=news&article=2244.
- http://www.stbernadette.org/ images/gay-lesb/pride04a.jpg; and http://www.stbernadette.org/images/gay-lesb/pride04b.jpg.