Thursday, September 30, 2010

Changes at USF: Fr. Donal Godfrey Out as Executive Director of University Ministry

The "Lane Center's" Julia Dowd to serve as Interim Director.

On September 15 we noted the apparent departure of Fr. Donal Godfrey, SJ from the position of Executive Director at University Ministry at the (Jesuit) University of San Francisco. His departure is now confirmed.

Godfrey’s departure comes on the heels of the revelation that his long-time associate Patrick Mulcahey, has, over a number of years, been teaching and moderating workshops on the Master/slave and sado-masochistic lifestyle. (See California Catholic Daily, September 3, 2010).

As recently as August 30, 2010, according to a cached webpage from the ministry’s site, Fr. Godfrey was still serving as Executive Director of the Ministry. Sometime between August 30 and September 15, 2010, (which obviously includes the date the California Catholic Daily story was published) Fr. Godfrey was replaced by Ms. Julia Dowd, a layperson. Fr. Godfrey will continue to serve as one of the ministry’s five “Associate Directors.”

Fr. Godfrey was appointed on August 1, 2007. His views on the Church’s position on homosexuality were already quite well known: In 2002 he was one of the panelists at the University’s "New Jewish & Christian Approaches to Homosexuality" symposium (where he quoted Mr. Mulcahey extensively). In 2006, he gave a homily at San Francisco’s predominantly homosexual Most Holy Redeemer Church on “Finding God in the Erotic.” The homily was published in the “Gay Catholic Forum.” In April 2007, he celebrated the famous “Gay Service” at Most Holy Redeemer, which was broadcast worldwide on "BBC Radio4." The photograph above is from San Francisco's 2003 Gay Freedom Day Parade. Photo credit: Most Holy Redeemer Church.

Immediately following his appointment, Lexington Books published "Gays and Grays: The Story of the Gay Community at Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Parish." Fr. Godfrey had been working on the book for much of the decade. On March 3, 2008, Godfrey plugged the book in an Australian publication called in an article titled "Towards a church apology for gay prejudice." On March 9, 2008, Godfrey gave another homily at Most Holy Redeemer “The Call to Come Out.” The homily likens Jesus’s calling Lazarus to come out of the tomb to same-sex attracted persons coming out of “the closet.” That homily was also published in the “Gay Catholic Forum.”

On July 18, 2008 Godfrey visited World Youth Day in Australia. He attended an "Acceptance" forum. "Acceptance" --"gay, lesbian, bisexual, & transgender Catholics"--is the Australian version of "DignityUSA." The Australian Church did not allow Acceptance to attend the official World Youth Day events.

While Catholics will be heartened by the news that one of the world’s most famous homoactivist priests is no longer be in charge of ministry at a Catholic University, his replacement, Julia Dowd, does not give much reason for rejoicing. On October 20, 2007, Ms. Dowd, joined by members of USF’s LGBTQ Caucus, attended the "OutThere" conference at De Paul University. The conference’s program makes clear that the its purpose was to create more effective advocacy for positions opposed to the Catholic Church on Catholic Universities. The description of USF’s presentation reads:

“This roundtable describes a series of community conversations on LGBTQ issues and Catholicism held in 2006 at the University of San Francisco. Three public forums, two held at local parishes, invited open dialogue in the midst of a church-wide debate following statements by church officials about LGBTQ issues. Roundtable participants will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the series as a model to educate and create community debate.”

The “conversations” described include “Is it Ethical to Be Catholic? Queer Perspectives” held at Most Holy Redeemer Church on February 12, 2006.

In addition to her new position as Executive Director of University Ministry, she continues to serve as an associate director of USF’s Lane Center for Catholic Studies and Social Thought. Over the past few years, the Lane Center has hosted such speakers as Fr. James Keenan, SJ, who, on April 28, 2003 spoke before the Massachusetts legislature "as a Catholic moral theologian," opposing Massachusetts Bill H. 3190, which would define marriage as between one man and one woman; Professor and ex-priest Paul Lakeland, who is best known for his support of Connecticut's recent attempt to have lay persons take over the governance of the Catholic Church; renegade Australian Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, (despite Archbishop George Niederauer's orders that he was not to speak at any Catholic institutions in the Archdiocese); professor and abortion advocate Sylvia Marcos, who believes in working to make abortion legal in countries where it is now illegal; and the Rev. Ignacio Castuera, President of the Clergy Network of Planned Parenthood and the Rev. Lisa Sargeant, Chaplain of (now defunct) Planned Parenthood Golden Gate. Ms. Dowd was also one of the signatories to a March 1, 2009 document supporting the nomination of Kathleen Sebelius to head the Department of Health and Human Services. Prior to the release of the document, Sebelius’ Archbishop, Joseph Naumann had already called Sebelius' actions on abortion "a scandal to the faithful," and had requested she refrain from receiving communion.

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