Catholic legal group makes curious choice for moderator of forum on women’s ordination

The St. Thomas More Society of San Francisco has invited a priest well known for challenging Church teaching on human sexuality and with ties to the city’s notoriously ‘gay-friendly’ Most Holy Redeemer Church to moderate a discussion next month on “the Role of Women in the Church, including the Debate over the Ordination of Women.”

The Society picked Jesuit Fr. Donal Godfrey to “moderate a fair and balanced discussion” on the subject scheduled for May 1 and billed as a “Half Day of Reflection Wine and Cheese Reception On the Role of Women in the Church.”

Fr. Godfrey is the author of Gays and Grays: The Story of the Gay Community at Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Parish, which, according to an book description, “shows how this parish became prophetic and compassionate, through conflict and compromise at times; despite opposition from many sources, including the institutionalized homophobia of the church and society. Rather than becoming embittered, the parish opened up to be a place of healing and indeed sanctuary for many.”

Fr. Godfrey has a long history of championing a less than orthodox view of human sexuality. As recently as March of 2008, he delivered a homily at Most Holy Redeemer entitled, “The Call to Come Out.” The homily likened Jesus’ calling Lazarus to come out of the tomb to same-sex attracted persons “coming out of the closet.” The homily was re-published on the “Gay Catholic Forum.” In 2006, Fr. Godfrey delivered another homily at MHR entitled, “Finding God in the Erotic.”

In April 2007, Fr. Godfrey celebrated a now famous “Gay Service” at Most Holy Redeemer, which was broadcast worldwide on BBC Radio4.

On July 18, 2008, Fr. Godfrey visited World Youth Day in Australia, where he attended an “Acceptance forum,” the Australian counterpart of DignityUSA. The Australian Church did not allow Acceptance to attend official World Youth Day events.

On Dec. 12, 2011, Fr. Godfrey joined a fellow University of San Francisco faculty member and a member of the Roman Catholic Womenpriests movement in an hour-long program broadcast on KALW radio in the Bay Area. The topic was “Far from Rome: Being Gay and Catholic in the Bay Area.”

The Catholic Church is an anti-woman and homophobic institution requiring theological transformation, Godfrey and his co-panelists agreed. He was joined on the program by the Rev. Vincent Pizzuto, associate professor in USF’s Department of Theology and Religious Studies and an ordained priest in the Celtic Christian Church; and Christine Fahrenbach, an “ordained deacon” who once co-led a gay and lesbian ministry at a Santa Cruz parish.

During the broadcast, Godfrey said that “pastoral practice” within the Church is frequently at odds with magisterial teaching, agreeing with Pizzuto that the hierarchy has yet to catch up with shifting attitudes in the pews. He compared attitudes regarding homosexuality at parishes like Most Holy Redeemer to women who use artificial contraception. Ultimately, he said, such issues are a matter of individual conscience.

Fr. Godfrey is currently associate director of University Ministry at the University of San Francisco. He served as executive director of University Ministry at USF from 2007-2010.

The St. Thomas More Society of San Francisco was founded in 1937 and describes itself as “the oldest fellowship of Catholic lawyers and judges in the West.”

“Please join us to meet other members of the society informally, enjoy a glass of wine, and take part in discussion of a topic that is sure to generate a lively and thoughtful discussion,” says an invitation to St. Thomas More Society members.



Posted Tuesday, April 10, 2012 12:30 AM By Clinton
What I can never understand is why someone like “Father” Godfrey even wants to be described as Catholic when it is so obvious how much he hates the Church. He is a modern day Judas Iscariot who betrays Christ and His Church with his spewing of vile against the Bride of Christ and her teachings. In another time, he and his kind would have been excommunicated. Now, bishops sit back and let this poison spread. Blessed Mother, ever Virgin, ora pro nobis. +JMJ+

Posted Tuesday, April 10, 2012 12:42 AM By Dan 
Fair and balanced at Fox News means, ideally, both sides are presented and the viewer makes up his/her own mind. Since the “moderators,” be they Hannity or OReilly, have a conservative bent, it is not surprise that positions out of favor with the MSM are valued. So if Fr. Godfrey’s moderation follows this paradigm, arguments for and against women’s ordination, homosexual marriage etc. will be heard, but with clear sympathy for and encouragement of dissent. What an insult to the memory of St Thomas More, whose fidelity to the Pope cost him his head.

Posted Tuesday, April 10, 2012 4:41 AM By Angelo
On Maundy Thursday, Pope Benedict XVl to a group of Austrian priests, gave a stern warning that he will no longer tolerate Priests that dissent from Church teaching. He made clear that Bl. John Paul ll’s declaration that a male only priesthood is by “Divine Constitution”, is an “Infallible declaration”. Fr. Godfrey must be reported to Rome.

Posted Tuesday, April 10, 2012 5:23 AM By Canisius
How many souls are you leading to Hell “Fr.” Godfrey???

Posted Tuesday, April 10, 2012 5:43 AM By JMJ
Why is this ‘priest’ still called ‘catholic’ and both Pope John Paul II and just last week Pope Benedict, once again, have said NO to women being ordained in the Roman Catholic Church. End of discussion. St. Thomas More Society should be disbanded and all of those that are putting this farce on, including those ‘priests’ in Europe that are calling for women ‘priests, should be excommunicated as they are not following the teachings of the Church. +JMJ+

Posted Tuesday, April 10, 2012 6:11 AM By St. Christopher
Why is Fr. Godfrey still a priest? After his decades long tradition of teaching disobedience to the Church, and public scandal, why is he not required publicly to (1) recant of his teachings to the extent that they contravene the Church, and (2) offer his life to pray and to ministry to the homosexual community in an effort to teach its members about the grave sinfulness of their sexual activities. How can this man be permitted to prance around and acting as if what he says is anything but enabling language to immorality? The Church is complicit in the outcomes of such behavior if its does nothing to counter these activities. In fact, a global housekeeping in the Church is in order to rid itself of homosexual priests, bishops and the like, which have literally brought the institutional Church to its knees. You cannot be the Church Triumphant when a good number of your troops are in sympathy, if not allegiance, with the enemy. And think of the lost souls — the greatest “sin” of the Church; the homosexuals of good faith whose sinful inclinations were hardened by sympathetic and “pastoral” nonsense teaching of the kind put forth by Fr. Godfrey.

Posted Tuesday, April 10, 2012 6:41 AM By Anna Asher
Why do Catholics continue to hold forums on women’s ordination? If there were ever a valid question, JP II settled it. I find it ludicrous that people who clearly do not know their faith by evidence of pursuing this issue, would imagine that they are called to be preestesses.

Posted Tuesday, April 10, 2012 6:45 AM By Life Lady
Looks like the blind will be leading the blind with this event. There’s only accommodation in there and a complete disconnect with the Church. I wonder when the Church will disallow our name “Catholic” to be used by groups like these. With such obstinate entrenchment they cannot keep calling themselves Catholic. The St Thomas More group has no connection with Holy Mother Church either. Thanks CalCatholic for the information. It is always a practice. of mine to wait and see whether I ought to contribute $$ to any one group and so I’ll be keeping it where this group. is concerned.

Posted Tuesday, April 10, 2012 7:04 AM By J
“Fr. Godfrey is currently associate director of University Ministry at the University of San Francisco. He served as executive director of University Ministry at USF from 2007-2010. ” Problem solved….even if he is a Jesuit his faculty to hear Confessions and function fully as a priest comes from the local Bishop. So Bishop Niederauer can simply pull his ticket, The sound you don’t hear is the Archbishop jumping into action.

Posted Tuesday, April 10, 2012 7:57 AM By Larry
The St. Thomas More Society of San Francisco seems to have a fundamental misconception of St. Thomas More’s legacy–which in fact was not that of a troublemaker or even a rebel against authority–but of someone who demanded, at the cost of his life, absolute loyalty to the Church. They should be calling themselves the “King Henry VIII Society of San Francisco.”

Posted Tuesday, April 10, 2012 8:07 AM By Juergensen
Google “Ordinatio Sacerdotalis” for a “fair and balanced discussion” of women’s ordination.

Posted Tuesday, April 10, 2012 8:21 AM By OneoftheSheep
“While concupiscence…brings about many ‘errors’ in rereading the ‘language of the body’…nevertheless, in the sphere of the ethos of redemption there is always the possibility of passing from ‘error’ to the ‘truth’ as well as the possibility of …conversion, from sin to chastity as an expression of a life according to the Spirit.(see Gal 5;16)” (Theology of the Body 107:3) It would appear a wise idea for Fr. Godfrey to hold a seminar on the theological implications of John Paul II’s Theology of the Body prior to attempting to moderate a forum on Women’s Ordination. It does not appear, at present, that he has grasped the concepts necessary to be fair and balanced. May the Holy Spirit of God transform his mind in the truth.

Posted Tuesday, April 10, 2012 8:46 AM By grampsc
Arthur Godfrey was more relevant than all the Fr. Godfreys in the universe. Our man Godrey is somewhat space controlled, its 1960 all over again in his mind.

Posted Tuesday, April 10, 2012 9:44 AM By MrsDMO
Eternal Father, I offer you the body, blood, soul, and divinity of your dearly beloved Son in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world. For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world. May God have mercy upon the souls of all cardinals, bishops, priests, and religious that have violated their vows and/or promises to Him. May the Holy Spirit woo them back to their First Love, Christ Jesus; and may His justice be swiftly executed upon those that choose not to repent. +Amen. Oh my God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love you. I beg your pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope, and do not love you. +Amen.

Posted Tuesday, April 10, 2012 9:46 AM By Bakersfield Crusader
This event would be more appropriately billed as a “whine and cheese” affair. Fr. Godfrey should be mentioned in the same breath as the other heterodox priests that my friend (Dave Hartline) talks about in his first book “The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism.” I just finished proofreading the manuscript for his follow-up book, which should hit the stands before long.

Posted Tuesday, April 10, 2012 10:10 AM By Ken M.
The Fr. Godfrey’s of the Church know their day in the sun is coming to an end as this generation of heterodox clergy go to their eternal “reward”.

Posted Tuesday, April 10, 2012 10:12 AM By Cromwell
What is there to “debate” about women’s ordination? It’s a settled matter. What’s next? A wine and cheese get together for Catholics to debate the divinity of Christ, moderated by an Arian?

Posted Tuesday, April 10, 2012 10:20 AM By Abeca Christian
This subject is UN debatable! Some things you just can’t debate! God has already spoken. One must be obedient.

Posted Tuesday, April 10, 2012 10:50 AM By Bob Zaletel
The St. Thomas More Society of San Francisco has relied on Fr. Godfrey in the past to lead Theology on Tap discussions with our members on various religious topics and has always found him to be well informed, thoughtful, considerate, and an adherent of the Church’s teachings. We do not expect that the upcoming event planned by a committee of women members of the Society, will be any different. The Society invites speakers with diverse points of view to our monthly lunches, and our members have always found their faith strengthened as a result. We have had Katie Short, the founder and Legal Director of the Legal LIfe Defense Foundation, Walter Hoye, Bishop Cordileone, and Notre Dame professor Cathleen Kaveny, speak to us, among others. This coming weekend Fr. Frank Filice of the Archdiocese of S.F. will lead us in our annual retreat at the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland. We are proud of our many accomplishments and our our monthly luncheon lectures (please visit our website to learn more about the Society). Bob Zaletel, President, St. Thomas More Society of San Francisco)

Posted Tuesday, April 10, 2012 11:30 AM By Louie
Well, the enemy gets to everyone. Just need to keep those novenas going. 3-4-5-6-7-8-etc rosaries going too. If we can ever get to church everyday and spend sometime in front of the tabernacle praying for our brothers and sister. Blessed be Our Lord Jesus!

Posted Tuesday, April 10, 2012 12:00 PM By Bob
One would think the St. Thomas More Society would know better. On second thought, they’re a bunch of lawyers in San Francisco….never mind.

Posted Tuesday, April 10, 2012 1:53 PM By gk
St Thomas More society abandoned the path of Roman Catholic fidelity years ago. That is why so many Catholic attorneys do not patronize the half-empty rubber chicken lunches of this self-laudatory club.

Posted Tuesday, April 10, 2012 3:09 PM By Larry
Mr. Zaletel, Pope John Paul II ruled definitively some years ago that women cannot now or ever be ordained priests. That pronouncement meets the requirements for an infallible papal definition delivered ex cathedra, and his successor Benedict XVI has so ruled. The matter is closed for eternity, and there is no reason for any organization which presents itself as Catholic to debate the matter further. St. Thomas More gave his life in the name of fidelity to the Church and to the pope as Vicar of Christ. He stood in the way of Henry VIII who demanded that his valid marriages be nonetheless annulled. Your organization, Mr. Zaletel, is honoring far more the memory of Henry VIII than that of St. Thomas More.

Posted Tuesday, April 10, 2012 3:36 PM By Joseph
Fr. Godfrey may or may not be an “adherent of the Church’s teachings” in other areas–I don’t know the man so I can’t say–but I listened to the radio show he was on with the “deaconess” and a schismatic “priest” talking about how the Church is a misogynistic and homophobic institution that should change its teachings. (Go to kalw’s website and search for “Far from Rome.”) Based on that interview, wherein Godfrey agreed that homophobia is rooted in misogyny, it hardly sounds like he’s inclined or equipped to explain or defend the Church’s clearly defined doctrine that the Church has no authority to confer holy orders on women. The question is why would the St. Thomas More Society select him to lead the discussion when he clearly dissents from the Church’s teaching?

Posted Tuesday, April 10, 2012 4:04 PM By Jason
Dan, FOX News promotes as fair and balanced. You cite O’Reilly and Hannity, neither of which are part of FOX News broadcasting. Have you ever heard either of those two use the phrase “fair and balanced?” They do news analysis and commentary. There is a difference. Why is that so hard to understand?