An edited version of this post was published in yesterday's California Catholic Daily.
On Wednesday, June 27, the United States Supreme Court handed down two decisions—on Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Amendment --that eviscerated legal marriage in the United States. The following Sunday thus offered Catholic priests a matchless opportunity to articulate the Church’s definition of what marriage is, and what it is not. Indeed, since the decisions had such civilizational import, such articulation was less an opportunity than an absolute obligation.
One priest did choose to address the issue. At San Francisco’s St. Ignatius Church, the 9:30 AM Mass on Sunday, June 30 was celebrated by the church’s pastor, Fr. Gregory R. Bonfiglio, SJ. But rather than presenting Church teaching to his audience, rather than, for instance, stating the simple truth that properly ordered sexuality leads to the creation of new life, while sodomitical relations lead, as San Franciscans know all too well, to physical death and to spiritual death, Fr. Bonfiglio chose to read a letter written by Fr. John D. Whitney, SJ, of St. Joseph’s Church in Seattle. In the letter, which is titled “Why Am I In The Parade?” and which runs to 1,098 words, Fr. Whitney justified his presence in Seattle’s “Gay Pride” parade. The letter was published in St. Joseph’s June 23, 2013 parish bulletin. Given the content of the letter (Fr. Whitney absurdly equated Church teaching on homosexuality with Old Testament dietary restrictions, and ignorantly repeats the long-debunked assertion that the word “faggot” derives from “faggots” of wood), and the timing of Fr. Bonfiglio’s homily, the Sunday immediately after the legalization of counterfeit “marriage,” the homily can be seen as nothing less than support of homosexual “marriage.”
During Fr. Bonfiglio’s reading of the letter, the Church was eerily quiet. At least one parishioner was seen leaving the church in tears. When queried she said “It’s not his church! It’s the Catholic church! I should be able to just go to Church! I want to go to a Catholic Church!”
The point is valid. All Catholics are obligated to attend Sunday Mass. Missing Mass on Sunday, without a very good reason (health, transportation issues, etc.) is a serious sin. In a sense, then, Catholics at a Sunday Mass are a captive audience. They have a right to genuine Church teaching, and at the barest minimum a right not to be subjected to the personal propaganda of an individual priest, in this case propaganda that is directly opposed to the Catholic Church. In addition to regular parishioners, the Mass was also attended by a family who had come from some distance because the intention of the Mass was for a deceased family member. In addition, a little girl was receiving her First Holy Communion at the Mass. Those families, one in the process of mourning and the second experiencing their daughter’s reception of Jesus Christ for the very first time, were thus forced to listen to Fr. Bonfiglio’s opinions.
It is unavoidable to observe that both priests involved in these event, Fr. Bonfiglio and Fr. Whitney, are members of the dying Jesuit order. St. Ignatius is San Francisco’s flagship Jesuit parish, the church of the University of San Francisco. The presence of open homosexuals among the California Jesuit priesthood, and among the faculty of California’s Jesuit Universities is well documented. The Associate Director of University Ministry at USF, Fr. Donal Godfrey, SJ, is openly homosexual. The rector of the Jesuit community at Santa Clara, Fr. Michael Zampelli, SJ, is openly homosexual. The Chair of the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at USF, the Rev. Vincent Pizzuto, is openly homosexual. The former pastor of St. Agnes, San Francisco’s other Jesuit parish, Fr. Cameron Ayers, SJ, is openly homosexual. At least Fr. Ayers had the integrity to leave the Catholic Church and join the Episcopal Church.
Although that list barely scratches the surface, the open homosexuality expresses a deeper problem. The St. Ignatius Jesuits have actually replaced Catholicism with something else. In 2010, in an article we wrote for California Catholic Daily, we reported that the Jesuits had replaced the confessionals at St. Ignatius with an art gallery—an art gallery actually inside the church. The action was extremely significant. Removing objects with a critical Catholic sacramental function from a Catholic Church, and replacing them with an art gallery, an environment in which objects are considered under their aesthetic aspect alone could never have been done by a genuine Catholic.
Archbishop Peter J. Sartain
Archdiocese of Seattle
710 9th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98104
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone
Archdiocese of San Francisco
One Peter Yorke Way
San Francisco CA 94109