Well, well. It's too toxic for MHR (or maybe vice versa) but just right for USF.
We believe that the play "Be Still and Know," an adaption of the book "The God Box" by homosexual activist Alex Sanchez, will be performed at the Presentation Theater of the (Jesuit) University of San Francisco today. We went by there and saw a flyer advertising the event.
It had originally been scheduled to be performed at Most Holy Redeemer Church, but the parish cancelled it on orders from the Archdiocese. Our detailed post on the play can be found by going here. This begs a number of questions:
1) Did the Archdiocese approve this change of venue or not?
If yes, why? Why is it acceptable to stage a performance of the play at USF, but not at Most Holy Redeemer? Is there something about MHR that would make the play unnacceptable there?
Two possibilities suggest themselves:
a) The Archdiocese is pastorally concerned about kids from a Catholic High School performing at Most Holy Redeemer. They do not want students exposed to an environment where there is such a wholesale and blatant repudiation of Church teaching on sexuality--a repudiation which includes, but is not limited to having openly same-sex "married" and "transgendered" Eucharistic minsters, lectors, and acolytes serving at Mass. This would make sense.
b) The Archdiocese is pastorally concerned about the parishioners of MHR. They worry that a play challenging Church teaching on homosexuality presented at MHR is an occasion of sin-- like giving a bottle of liquor to an alcoholic. It may sound funny at first to anyone familiar with the history of MHR--that a high school play could be a bad influence there--but it is no joke. Our Archdiocese knows full well that anything that affrms the parishioners of MHR in their repudiation of Church teaching on sexuality must be avoided. As Catechism entry #2357 says of homosexual acts: "Under no circumstances can they be approved." On this reading, our Archdiocese is being guided by the maxim that the souls of our same-sex attracted brothers and sisters are just as important as anyone else, and that it is the duty of the Archdiocese to protect them. This also would make sense.
I think probably both of these played a part in the Archdiocesan decision to cancel the play at MHR. I'd encourage the Catholic parents of Sacred Heart of Atherton to think about both of these things.
But this leads to a further question. If there is something so unsuitable about MHR, because of it's repudiation of Church teaching on sexuality, how can USF be suitable? For on this issue USF is on the same page as MHR (a quick sample, it would take far too much space to into detail) :
• The Executive Director of University Ministry at USF, Fr. Donal Godfrey wrote the very enlightening history of MHR "Gays and Grays" (excerpts here) ; he has given homilies at MHR which are posted on the "Gay Catholic Forum" ; he has come out publicly against Proposition 8; he has marched, in his clerics, in the "Gay Pride" parade. Too get an idea of how far out Fr. Godfrey is on matters of sexuality, listen to this radio interview he gave last year at World Youth Day in Australia.
• USF and MHR co-hosted the "Queer Perspectives: Is it Ethical to Be Catholic?" seminars. Listen to the audio here and here.
• The Department of Theology and Religious Studies at USF employs the Reverend Vincent Pizzuto as an Assistant Professor (you can hear him on the first audio cllip in the preceding paragraph). The Reverend Pizzuto so disagreed with Catholic teaching on homosexuality that he left the Catholic Church in 2007 and was ordained into the "Celtic Christian Church." The Celtic Christian Church is not in communion with Rome. I actually have a certain amount of admiration for Father Pizzuto. He says what he believes, and if he can't accept Catholic teaching, he leaves the Church. Of course that means Canonically he is not allowed to teach at a Theology department in a Catholic school, but that is not his fault, but the fault of those responsible at USF.
• Tomorrow, May 9, 2009, USF's Lane Center for Catholic Studies and Social Research, and the USF LGBT Caucus will sponsor an address by Professor James Nickoloff. We covered the event, and did some resarch on Professor Nickoloff back in January. The post is here.
2) The other possibility is that USF is allowing this play to be performed on campus without Archdiocesan approval. This would certainly not be surprising, because it would not be the first time that the University basically told His Excellency: drop dead.
Back on June 7, 2008, we reported on the book tour of Australian former Auxiliary Bishop Geoffrey Robinson. Robinson's teachings were so at variance with those of the Church that the Vatican asked him to cancel the tour. He didn't, and before he reached California a number of California Catholic bishops, including Archbishop Niederauer, specifically and in writing denied him permission to speak in their Archdioceses. What did USF do? They ignored the instructions of His Excellency, and invited Robinson to speak at the University's notorious Lane Center for Catholic Studies and Social Thought.
It's an unfortunate fact that what goes on at “Catholic” Universities nowadays is, to a great extent, out of Archdiocesan control. I believe all that can be done by the local ordinary is to strip the university of its Catholic identity.
Posted by Gibbons J. Cooney