No Room At The Inn? Catholic Archbishop Cancels Invite To Gay-Friendly Ministers

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


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  • nice dave

    and who was expecting anything else out of the RC hate mongers? like the mormons,
    the RC’s are among our worst enemies; they say one thing and attack us at the same

  • Olive Austin

    They’re too busy raping children to worry about all that ‘religion stuff’.

  • CindyT

    Another situation like this should be investigated by Queerty:

    In Sioux City, Iowa, Bishop Nickless told the choir director of St. Boniface to step down because he is in a legal marriage. This person had been the choir director for many years. Because of the bishop’s actions, the entire church choir has now disbanded.

    How many other decrees like this are affecting Catholic churches across Iowa and the nation?

  • B

    If you click on the San Francisco Chronicle link and go to page two, you’ll find a complication. It seems that the archdiocese doesn’t normally micromanage guest speakers at churches, but some conservative Catholic rag in San Diego printed a negatively worded article about how these speakers were going to be invited. That created a situation the archbishop could not ignore – he probably wants to be made a cardinal some day and you don’t get to be cardinal by making waves. So, the archbishop could have nixed the speakers due to personal homophobia, but he also might have simply thrown them under the bus to further his own career.

    Either way, the situation stinks.

  • Dan

    You know that the simplest thing to do is start another church. Whenever you want you can in the USA. No reason to attend any church that mistreats you whether gay, straight, bi, male, female, trans, tall, short, abled, disabled. Just because Christianity was founded by polygamist racists who owned slaves and treated women as property, doesn’t mean it has to continue in the 21st century. Find a better religion – something more God-like (unless you think your god supports polygamy, slavery, and blaming women for the world’s problems).

  • mark

    Its high time we start taxing property and income of churches. They don’t even have to register like non-profits do. It is not unconstitutional to tax churches as long as you have the same rate for all religions. Most of the “free” meals they give away are actually paid for through government grants with our tax money and they make a profit off every meal. That’s how one church can afford to pay over $300,000 a year to one very famous SF minister.

  • ewe

    It is high time that catholics tell the hierarchy that a bunch of dysfunctional virgins cloistered away in a world not in touch with reality does not have the power to tell anyone they are catholic if they choose to be so. In other words, fuck off you twisted wankers. No one able to think of their own accord gives credibility to what some hateful priest says. They shall be confronted.

  • julie

    Religious marriage and state marriage are not the same thing. You can force your beliefs on the state but stop forcing them on churches. People can love you but still not agree with what you do or how you live. Perhaps you have actually lost sight of the concept of equality. You can disagree with religious institutions openly but if they disagree with you they are hatemongers and bigots? I think not.

  • B

    No. 4 · Dan wrote, “You know that the simplest thing to do is start another church. Whenever you want you can in the USA.”

    Assuming there isn’t a copyright issue, you can also simply clone all of Catholicism and then drop the homophobic and celibacy parts of it. You can even recognize the pope as being infallible on all non-earthly matters (like how many angels can dance on the head of a pin). You know, keep the music and rituals and just throw out what you don’t like. And there is nothing they can do about it except whine.

  • B

    No. 7 · julie wrote, “You can disagree with religious institutions openly but if they disagree with you they are hatemongers and bigots? I think not.”

    When religious institutions provide financial and other support for state or federal constitutional amendments that restrict our rights, we have every reason to use terms like “hatemongers and bigots.” Proposition Eight is a good example – it took away a right that “we the people” briefly enjoyed, and the passage of Proposition Eight was supported by the Roman Catholic and Mormon churches, with the Mormons providing a huge amount of funding while allegedly violating campaign-financing laws to the point where the Mormon church was fined by the California Fair Political Practices Commission. See for details.

    Also, leaders of Mormon churches set specific goals, including monetary goals, for their members to generate support for the Proposition Eight campaign. If you play politics at that level, you can expect to get some heat for it, and as Harry Truman once said, “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”

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