Rainbow Sash Movement challenges San Francisco New Archbishop on Bigotry

Press Release

Rainbow Sash Movement challenges San Francisco New Archbishop on Bigotry

Bishop Cordileone has been appointed the next Archbishop elect of San Francisco. The sad situation at Most Holy Redeemer parish only emphasizes how deeply homophobia is ingrained in the culture of the Church. The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption will be the stage for all the world to see how the Church celebrates in a public fashion this culture of homophobia on October 4, 2012. The Archbishop’s instillation will be used as another launching pad to promote hate directed at the San Francisco LGBT Community,the national LGBT Community and women. The sad reality about this appointment is how far you can get in the church by promoting a closet mentality and hate of women. Integrity will apparently have no place at Bishop Cordileone’s Cathedral Eucharistic table.

People of good will and reason will understand this liturgical service for what it is, and will respond appropriately and non violently. The Rainbow Sash Movement (LGBT Catholics) is inviting San Francisco’s Drag Community, and the Catholic women’s community to stand with us both outside and inside the Cathedral as we witness this betrayal of the Church’s Social Justice Ministry at the installation ceremony at the Cathedral. The dignity of the human person apparently has more to do the with clothing you wear, the medication you use for family planning, and what gender you are than your relationship with God.

As we approach the 50th anniversary of Vatican II the Cathedral clergy and staff should hang their heads in shame over the part they are playing in the demise of Catholic Social Justice. Because justice will not flow from this installation of bigotry at the Cathedral it will not be a valid liturgy, and therefore will not be bound by the norms that guide the liturgical celebration. We will come to witness this abuse of Christ love for all people.

Contact Person:

Bill O’Connor
Rainbow Sash Movement

Drag Queens Prohibited at Most Holy Redeemer Parish

Nice goin’ (Archbishop) Sal; piss of the drag queens first thing out the gate.

A local gay recovery group will not be holding its annual fall fundraiser in the social hall of the Castro neighborhood’s Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church after officials said that no drag queens would be allowed.

For the past couple of years the Castro Country Club has held its event in the church’s social hall and had drag queens as entertainment.

As a statement issued by the country club’s board of directors explained, the new no-drag-queen policy at the church is simply unacceptable.

“The Castro Country Club had planned to hold our third annual Harvest Feast on October 20, 2012, at Most Holy Redeemer Church, where we have held this and other events in the past,” the directors said in a statement.

But that changed when the club was notified by the church last week that they would not be able to hold the dinner if any drag queens were part of the program, the board said.

“In previous years, we have had Ivy Drip and Heklina, both well-known entertainers and community fundraisers, serve as emcees of the event, and we felt we could not in good conscience abide by the church’s new policy,” the board said.

“It is our organization’s policy to be inclusive and welcoming to all. Drag queens are no exception. We are currently seeking an alternative venue for the Harvest Feast, which provides an important source of revenue for our annual budget,” the board added.

Individual members of the country club declined to comment and referred to the board’s statement.

Most Holy Redeemer’s new pastor, the Reverend Brian Costello, confirmed over telephone on Monday, August 6, that drag queen performers and emcees are no longer permitted to participate in events at the church.

Costello said that during a telephone conversation with a Castro Country Club representative, when the topic of drag queens came up, he told the person, “That is not going to work under the present circumstances.”

“I said work with me. You can still have the dinner. You can have a regular emcee, but not drag queens on church property,” Costello said.

New leadership
It seems the directive is the result of several factors.

“I am the new pastor,” Costello added. “There is a new archbishop. The archdiocese told me straight out, ‘No drag queens.'”

The change of policy at Most Holy Redeemer was greeted with charges of discrimination, homophobia, and calls for compromise, even reconciliation.

“It’s really ridiculous and discriminatory,” said Zachary Davenport in a phone interview. “I mean it’s like, who’s next?”

Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in the Castro has banned drag queens, forcing the Castro Country Club to find a new venue for its fall fundraiser.
(Photo: Rick Gerharter)
The drag queen ban is personal for Davenport, who, in drag as Laybelline has served as emcee for a variety of sobriety-related nonprofit events held at Most Holy Redeemer.

“What constitutes drag?” he said. “If we want to get funny, let’s talk about the priests. Hello.”

Davenport also pointed to a nuanced landscape of gender identity and expression, which the new policy at Most Holy Redeemer seemingly blocks. “There are members of our community who express their gender all the time, and are not necessarily performing, but would say, ‘Yes, I am in drag,'” he said.

“Yes, I realize [Most Holy Redeemer] is a church. But it is in the Castro,” said Davenport. If, “the new archbishop is wanting to do away with drag queens and the gays,” then “look where you are. [The neighborhood] has a history of 30 to 40 years of being a safe place.”

A California native from Watsonville, Davenport, 28, who is not Catholic, added, “I know gay people who go to Most Holy Redeemer and love the church.”

Dignity San Francisco offered its take on the new policy at Most Holy Redeemer.

“This is an unfortunate development between Most Holy Redeemer and the Castro County Club,” said Ernest L. Camisa, treasurer of the Dignity/SF chapter, speaking for the organization by e-mail and over the telephone.

“It looks like the Archdiocese of San Francisco wants to protect its image by not condoning cross-dressers. By doing so they show that they care more for their image than they do for gay people trying to overcome alcohol addiction. Here the church looks like it values its own image more than it does human life. This is not Christian, but callous,” Camisa said.

A couple of Most Holy Redeemer parishioners declined to comment. No one from Castro Country Club was willing to speak on the record.

Reached by phone, George Wesolek, department head for communications and public policy for the archdiocese, said he was not in the policy conversation “loop.” Nonetheless, Wesolek acknowledged, the situation is “difficult pastorally,” particularly in “very divided and fractious church.”

Others weigh in
Meanwhile, across the country, the new no-drag queen policy has struck a chord among gay Catholic activists and those in ministry.

“I think this is a very difficult and complex time for not only the pastor and the people of Holy Redeemer parish, but also for members of the drag community. All three groups are an example of ordinary people being called to do some extraordinary things for their neighbors. The pastor and parish of Most Holy Redeemer have to be very careful not to throw out the baby with the water in the name of homophobia. Jesus, not homophobia, should guide us in this matter,” said Joe Murray, a founder of the Chicago-based the pro-LGBT Catholic Rainbow Sash Movement.

The Rainbow Sash Movement, stateside and abroad, advocates reception of Eucharist by visibly gay persons during Mass. The movement is best known for donning rainbow sashes on Pentecost and approaching the altar for communion during Mass that day.

At the same time, New Ways Ministry Executive Director Francis De Bernardo offered his assessment via e-mail correspondence.

“Drag is a historically-based, time-honored entertainment tradition that has existed, at least, since classical times,” he said.

“Canceling this program without any explanation or substantial reason is simply caving into fear of reprisals from higher authorities. If the [Most Holy Redeemer] community has supported this event for years, there has obviously been a relationship that has developed between the sponsoring organization and the parish, and it would be great if the two groups could work together to find some resolution. Reconciliation is what any and every parish should be about. If the parish does not offer a substantial intervening reason, we can only assume that other forces have had influence,” said DeBernardo.

Located just outside Washington, D.C., New Ways is a pro-gay Catholic ministry of education, healing, and reconciliation for LGBT Catholics, their families, friends, and the wider church.

For his part, Costello said the Castro Country Club event would have been in its third year at Most Holy Redeemer.

“It’s not a 20- to 25-year relationship,” he said.

Nonetheless, Costello lamented the course of events.

“I am big on compromising,” he said. But “[Castro Country Club] would not work with me. It was all or nothing. And they got nothing.”

Costello also said that with respect to drag queens, “We have had bad experiences, not only in church, but also the [social] hall.”

Still, “I feel bad because [Castro Country Club] do[es] good work in the community,” he said.

While Costello did not elaborate on any social hall “bad experience,” one church incident nearly five years ago caused a media stir.

During Sunday Mass on Sunday, October 7, 2007, Archbishop George Niederauer gave communion to two members of the activist group and drag troupe Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, an indecent that angered, hurt, and even horrified some conservative Catholics, as well as it grabbed local and national headlines.

Called to task locally by the California Catholic Daily and a “90 years young” priest, the Reverend John Malloy, on A Shepherd’s Voice blog, Niederauer apologized for giving communion to gays dressed as nuns.

Attempts to reach the Sisters for comment on the recent change of policy at Most Holy Redeemer were unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, as recent as April 29, in a Shepherd’s Voice post Malloy blasted the “gay parish” for hosting an April 14 “drag show” to benefit the Castro Country Club, “a substance abuse treatment organization.”

“Hosting a drag show at [Most Holy Redeemer] is the equivalent of sending a case of wine to Castro Country Club,” wrote Malloy. “It is beyond irresponsible for the Archdiocese of San Francisco to allow it.”

And while local conservative bloggers and orthodox Catholic activists may well exacerbate tensions at Most Holy Redeemer, Rainbow Sash Movement’s Murray noted, “The appointment of Archbishop-elect [Salvatore] Cordileone has brought this matter to a head.”

And yet, said Murray, “Let’s be very clear homophobia in the church existed prior to this event.”

He went on to fault the teaching of the Catholic Church, the Catechism, “for saying on the one hand that homosexuals are to be welcomed and every form of unjust discrimination is to be condemned, while saying at the same time saying we are morally disordered for our love.”

“Either gay and lesbian people are welcome at Most Holy Redeemer or they are not. It’s that simple. If the tradition of Most Holy Redeemer is to allow for drag queens to raise money for charity, then to fault those who are raising the money in the name of homophobia, I think, speaks volumes to what type of ministry is going on at Most Holy Redeemer; and that deeply disturbs me. If that is the case, I like the parishioners of Most Holy Redeemer have been misled,” said Murray.

Complete Article HERE!

Church and its accepting environment taking hold

Ogden is the first Western state to host The General Episcopal Synod, an international conference for members and leaders of the North American Old Catholic Church. About 100 representatives from across the United States and several countries will be in attendance this weekend.

“It is noteworthy because it signals to the world that you can be Catholic and not be locked into a Middle Ages mindset,” said the Rev. Jim Morgan, who oversees the Glory to God North American Old Catholic Church, at 375 Harrison Blvd. He said the gospel is “relevant, vital and apposite to the people of our world and time. We are committed to bringing this truth to the forefront.”

Although the Old Catholic Church is a community of Christian churches with Catholic roots, members of Ogden’s congregation are especially attracted to the church for the love and acceptance they feel there.

“We’re a very caring, praying church,” said Robbin Hansen, who helps manage the office for the Ogden church. “A lot of people kick you out. You feel you are not wanted in other churches.”

She said her service animal as well as her domestic living situation seemed to be a problem at other churches. But not at Glory to God.

“It doesn’t matter who you are, we love you. We care about you,” said Hansen, who has been attending Glory to God for more than three years. “This church is an amazing church you dream of that will accept you. This is a personal church.”

She said many girls come from Park City, Kamas and Heber City to have their quinceañera Mass celebrated at the church.

Glory to God offers bilingual Mass every Saturday at 6 p.m. as part of its outreach to Latino and Hispanic populations. Morgan also celebrates baptisms and 3-year-old presentations.

Hansen is looking forward to watching the deacon and priest ordinations today at 6 p.m. So is Morgan. He said with the ordination of locals Robert Patrick Trujillo and Mark Dexheimer Trujillo to the priesthood, the church can “offer even more to the families and persons who are routinely ignored or shunned by other churches in our area.”

“It has been my experience that our congregation is made up of diverse populations, some gay, many straight, young and old,” Dexheimer Trujillo said. “We come from a variety of denominational backgrounds, some Roman Catholic, others Episcopalian, LDS or nondenominational communities.

“Our parishioners are folks on the margins, folks who have never found their home in other settings,” said Dexheimer Trujillo, who was raised in a “very establishment, Episcopalian” environment. “We are small but have created a marvelous mosaic. We are a very human group of people whose lives are changed by Christ. It is a beautiful encounter.”

In contrast to many churches, Glory to God accepts members of all sexual orientations.

“We consider gender diversity a blessed part of life and promote the full inclusion of LGBT persons in our religious life, sacraments, and clergy,” Morgan said. “Similarly, we advocate for the full inclusion of LGBT persons throughout society.

“I would like my sisters and brothers — old and young, regardless of sexual orientation — to know that the gracious, almighty God that created them and all that is, loves them unconditionally, unreservedly and totally just the way he created them, and so do we,” Morgan said. “There is a church, family and home waiting for them here at Glory to God.”

Morgan said the best part of the church is the church family it creates.

“We come together to love, lend support, encourage and lift up each other,” he said. “We celebrate with each other and console one another.”

He said he particularly likes the church’s monthly potlucks, especially because his congregation has some great cooks.

Congregation members also like the church’s engaging, relevant preaching and lively approach to music.

Glory to God uses 21st-century tools such as contemporary music and multimedia “to engage heart, mind and soul,” Trujillo said.

Members of Glory to God — the first Old Catholic congregation established in Utah — want to expand it to other areas of the state.

Dexheimer Trujillo, a teacher at Tooele High School, plans to plant a mission in Tooele. Three other Salt Lake City-area congregations may join the church within a year.

“It makes perfect sense to grow the church in Utah,” he said. “The culture in Utah tends to be folks who take their faith seriously.

“We are Christians and serious Catholics,” he said. “We are constantly working to stay balanced. Our denomination strives not be become institutional.”

The North American Old Catholic Church was established in Ogden on June 6, 1996, and is now the Glory to God Church. Morgan said an average of 30 to 40 people attend Mass on any given Sunday, and church records include 65 people.

Dexheimer Trujillo said the goal is to keep congregations small.

“It sits within the context of being accepting. On purpose we keep small congregations, as opposed to getting lost in a large institution.”

He said the approach helps him to focus on pastoring instead of “church stuff.”

The Old Catholic Church originally split from the Roman Catholic Church over doctrines, most importantly papal infallibility, the belief that the Pope is preserved from the possibility of error. The Old Catholic Church holds to the belief that the total church acting in unity — or Ecumenical Council — may speak infallibly.

Morgan said the faith is rooted in tradition and the early days of Jesus and his teachings on peace, love, justice and equality. He said congregation members strive to care for the oppressed, disenfranchised, poor and unwell.

According to a church statement, “We are a church that worships God by living our faith every day of the week, speaking out against injustice and praying for healing in the world by being active believers, committed to loving our neighbors.”

Complete Article HERE!

Female bishop speaks up for views, talks about ‘Womenpriest Movement’

Bishop Patricia Fresen says she dreams of establishing a church in which people of all genders, races and sexual orientations are treated equally and allowed to assume positions of leadership.

Fresen, a leader of the Roman Catholic Womenpriest Movement, spoke Sunday to members of the Mary Magdalene First Apostle Church about the need for an all-inclusive church after Mass at St. John’s Episcopal Church.

“There needs to be an emphasis on what unites us, rather than what divides us,” she said.

Fresen’s story
Born and raised in South Africa, Fresen was a nun in the Dominican Sisterhood for 45 years. She taught at St. John Vianney Seminary in Pretoria, South Africa, and at St. Augustine’s University in Johannesburg.

In 2003, Fresen was ordained a priest, which is a role the Roman Catholic Church reserves solely for men. As a result, she was excommunicated from the church and forced to leave her teaching positions.

Two years later, she was appointed a bishop and has been instrumental in bringing what supporters call the Womenpriest Movement to the United States. It is not recognized by the Catholic Church.

The Womenpriest Movement has support but there is still resistance, Fresen said.

“The resistance comes from a great fear of women and sexuality, and the long patriarchal tradition of the Roman Catholic Church,” she said.

Fresen said members of the Womenpriest Movement still consider themselves Catholic, but there are fundamental differences in how the churches are structured.

The Womenpriest Movement’s church is non-hierarchical and has a circular model in which leaders work in teams. Fresen said there are six regions of the Womenpriest Movement in the U.S.: North, West, South, East, the Great Waters region and the Midwest region.

Each region is led by a bishop, administrator and program director who are all elected by the people, Fresen said. The administrator is the main position in charge while the bishop has pastoral responsibilities and guides priests and deacons.

The second main difference between the churches is that women are allowed to hold leadership positions and nearly all the women involved in the Womenpriest Movement are married. Fresen said celibacy is not a requirement of ordination and neither is a vow of obedience to the bishop.

Fresen said the Womenpriest Movement advocates showing mutual respect for all religions, and expressing different cultures through liturgy and music.

Regina Nicolosi, bishop of the Midwest region of Roman Catholic Womenpriests, said it is important to her to spread the message of the movement because she believes in total equality for men and women.

Nicolosi said the law that does not allow women to be ordained as priests in the Roman Catholic Church is unjust, and she feels a strong call to advocate against the law.

“Being part of the Womenpriest Movement has helped me answer that call,” she said. “I want to belong to a church that is accepting of all races, all genders, all sexual orientations and takes that very seriously.”

Fresen said she uses humor to cope with the unjust structures of the Roman Catholic Church, and if the Womenpriest Movement is strong in its beliefs, “the church will back down, like a bully usually does.”

Fresen told audience members they must lose all fear of excommunication if the Womenpriest Movement is to be successful. She cited Nelson Mandela as an example of someone who spent 27 years in prison because he refused to obey what he considered an unjust law.

“In good conscience, one must not obey an unjust law … but you must be prepared to pay the price,” Fresen said.

Complete Article HERE!

A church celebrates with women as priests

Several months ago, Kathy Schuck’s 15-year-old daughter posed a question that seemed innocuous but that became a call to action.

The gist of Ann Schuck’s question: Why did girls and women seem to be less important than men in their church, St. Rose of Lima in North Wales?

Kathy Schuck, 56, of Blue Bell, said she had long felt women were confined to secondary roles in the Roman Catholic Church, where she did not hear a message of inclusion. The hierarchy and exclusion of the voices of the lay members troubled her, she said. So, after 15 years, she left her parish.

“It disturbed me that the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church uses a term like ‘radical feminism’ to . . . categorize any woman who wants to have a voice in the church when that voice is not in total compliance with doctrine and orthodoxy,” Schuck said. “It was clear to me that my lack of action reinforced that that behavior was acceptable – and it isn’t.”

On Sunday, she joined more than 50 others belonging to the St. Mary Magdalene Community in celebration of its fifth anniversary. The group is led by two Roman Catholic female priests not recognized by the Vatican. Sunday’s celebratory service was held in rented space at the Drexel Hill United Methodist Church.

St. Mary Magdalene is one of several worship communities being led by women in 28 states, said Suzanne Thiel, president of Roman Catholic Womenpriests USA, a nonprofit group that prepares women for ordination and carries out the ceremonies.

“We provide spiritual comfort and solace for people who no longer find it in the Roman Catholic Church,” said Eileen McCafferty DiFranco, who was ordained in 2006 and who, along with her St. Mary’s co-pastor, is one of 113 female Roman Catholic priests, bishops, and deacons worldwide, according to Thiel.

At least eight more ordinations, which the organization maintains are valid, are planned worldwide by Christmas, Thiel said.

“We know the Vatican and the hierarchy are not happy with us,” Thiel acknowledged. “What’s important is the Catholic people have accepted us.”

Since 1976, the Vatican has been strongly reiterating that women are not full members of the Roman Catholic clergy after the Episcopal Church validated the illicit ordination in 1974 of 11 women in Philadelphia.

Then Pope Paul VI reminded Catholics that an all-male clergy was a “constant and universal tradition” of the Roman church because Jesus freely chose only men to be his apostles. By their “natural resemblance” to Christ, male priests also serve as the “sacramental sign” of him, the pontiff said.

Advocates of female clergy had long accused the church hierarchy of misogyny.

St. Mary Magdalene has drawn male and female members, some from as far as Delaware. In general, members said they did not feel fulfilled by their home Catholic parishes and sought a more intimate community with less hierarchy where their voices would be more valued.

“It’s all about intimacy. You can’t be intimate with a parish that has 2,000 to 3,000 members and no mechanism to get to know people on a deeper level,” said Judy Miller, 73, of Hockessin, Del., a member of St. Mary for three years with her husband, Chuck.

Schuck said she was welcomed, greeted by name, and introduced. “I was as comfortable as I was in someone’s home,” she said.

The St. Mary Magdalene Community has grown from 10 members to about 90, with a satellite community in Northeast Philadelphia, said DiFranco, who, along with being a priest, is a school nurse in the city. Services usually draw 30 to 40 members.

St. Mary members said that they enjoyed the congregation’s interactive homilies and that everyone was welcome to take communion. DiFranco said she doesn’t use prayers routinely heard in traditional Catholic Masses, opting instead for “non-sexist” prayers.

Members collectively decide which charities to support.

Maryrose Petrizzo, a member of St. Mary of Magdalene, said leadership opportunities were limited in her church in Wilmington. Among the positions she held was youth minister and eucharistic minister. “I could only do so much,” she said.

But at St. Mary Magdalene, she has led the liturgy and given the homily.

“That’s been so life-giving to be able to give a homily,” said Petrizzo, who has applied to be ordained.

After DiFranco’s ordination in 2006 in Pittsburgh, staff from St. Vincent de Paul in Germantown visited her and asked her not to show up for communion.

She preached on Sunday about following one’s dreams, much like women who have heeded the call to be priests.

“We succeeded in being priests in spite of the church,” she said after the homily. “Where human beings shut the door, God opens the window.”

Complete Article HERE!