If there”s anywhere in America that we’d imagine faith-based and LGBT communities have found harmony, it’d be the Castro in San Francisco.But the Holy Redeemer Church, a Catholic parish in the middle of the trés gay neighborhood, had to rescind speaking engagement invitations for a group of gay-friendly clergy after San Francisco Archbishop George Niederauer (right) nixed the plan. “The archbishop felt the speakers were inappropriate for the season of Advent, which should be a time to reflect on the coming of Christ,” said archdiocese spokesperson George Wesolek, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The disinvited ministers included retired Episcopal Bishop Otis Charles, retired Presbyterian Rev. Jane Spahr, who founded a group for gay Presbyterians, and Rev. Roland Stringfellow, a minister at Metropolitan Community Church.
Reports the Chronicle:
What also bothered Stringfellow was the assumption that because he works with Berkeley’s Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry, he would give a rousing gay rights sermon that ignored the religious themes of the season of Advent.
Stringfellow, who was a grand marshal for the 2011 San Francisco Pride Parade, said he intended to speak on the theme of Christian love and how Christmas can be “incredibly hard” for gays and lesbians estranged from family and friends.”Most congregations invite speakers who can speak well to their community’s concerns,” he said. “We are all clergy within our own rites and denominations, and we were very disrespected by the idea that we can only give a talk that’s about gay rights.”
Most Holy Redeemer, where it’s estimated a majority of parishoners are gay or lesbian, describes itself on its website as “an inclusive Catholic community” that welcomes everyone, regardless of class, race, gender identity or sexual orientation. “It’s a very delicate pastoral situation,” said Wesolek. “There are a lot of wonderful gays and lesbians who attend Most Holy Redeemer, but there are parameters that must be followed.”
Archbishop Niederauer, who was instrumental in aligning Catholics and Mormons behind Prop 8, seems to think it’s okay to marginalize LGBT people while still claiming to serve their needs.
Good thing religion is a choice.
Image via Vivanista1, Ramon Burgos-Ruiz