Two San Francisco parishes invite questionable speakers for Lenten Vespers services
Most Holy Redeemer Parish in San Francisco is continuing its custom of inviting controversial guests to speak during various liturgical seasons, even after being rebuffed late last year by Archbishop George Niederauer over its choices.
Archbishop Niederauer telephoned Most Holy Redeemer pastor Fr. Steve Meriwether before the first of a series of Advent Vespers services scheduled to begin on Nov. 30, 2011 and asked him to cancel the planned appearances. Included on the list of ‘disinvited’ speakers were retired Episcopal Bishop Otis Charles, who, shortly after his retirement announced he was homosexual, left his wife of 42 years, moved to San Francisco and “married” a man; the Rev. Jane Spahr, a well-known homosexual activist and retired Presbyterian minister repeatedly rebuked by her church for performing same-sex “marriages;” and Rev. Roland Stringfellow, an ordained minister of the Metropolitan Community Church who served as a “community grand marshal” at San Francisco’s 2011 “LGBT Pride Parade.”
While Fr. Meriwether has apparently been on leave since early December, in his absence the parish continues its custom of inviting controversial speakers, this time for its Lenten Vespers Services.
On March 21, Brian Cahill, former executive director of San Francisco’s Catholic Charities, is scheduled to speak at one of the parish’s Lenten Vespers Services. Since his retirement, Cahill has worked as an occasional columnist for the National Catholic Reporter and Catholic San Francisco. His most recent column, published in the San Francisco Chronicle on Feb. 21, attacked every bishop in the United Sates over their opposition to the Obama Administration’s contraception mandate.
In a May 2011 commentary for the National Catholic Reporter, Cahill harshly criticized several bishops – including Santa Rosa Bishop Robert Vasa and Oakland Bishop Salvatore Cordileone. That commentary ran under the headline, “Why let bishops drive us from church we love?” In it, Cahill wrote, “The U.S. bishops have set the tone with their continued denial of the wholesale rejection of church teaching on contraception; their clumsy, heavy-handed, ineffective attempt to influence national health care legislation; their opposition to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development regulations prohibiting discrimination against gays and lesbians; and their condemnation of the work of theologian St. Joseph Sr. Elizabeth Johnson without even meeting with her.”
In a March 13, 2011 opinion piece published by the San Francisco Chronicle, Cahill revealed that he voted against Proposition 8 and gave $1000 to the unsuccessful campaign to defeat it.
Cahill served as executive director of Catholic Charities for the archdiocese from 2000-2008. Under his leadership, Catholic Charities merged with the archdiocese’s Catholic Youth Organization in 2003 to become Catholic Charities CYO, the name it still uses today. The organization facilitated adoptions of children by homosexual couples during Cahill’s tenure as executive director.
Cahill is not the only controversial speaker invited to MHR’s Lenten Vespers Services. This Saturday, the parish is scheduled to hear from Barry Zeve, who will speak on “How it takes a good Jew within to make a good Christian throughout.” Zeve, an open homosexual, is identified in the MHR bulletin as a “religious author and poet.” One of his books of poetry is called Becoming. On the amazon.com webpage for the book, the description reads: “Barry Zeve went to Israel in 2008 to marry himself at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, taking himself for better or worse, in sickness and in health, until death he does part.”
And Most Holy Redeemer is not alone among San Francisco parishes making strange choices for Lenten guest speakers. Saint John of God Parish in San Francisco’s Sunset district, one of three San Francisco parishes represented at the 2011 “Gay Pride” parade, is offering a series of Lenten lectures with the theme, “Fifty Years Since the Beginning of Vatican II: Where We Come From and Where We May be Going.” Two of the five speakers are not even Catholics, nor does the parish explain how the subject relates to Lent.
The March 9 speaker at Saint John of God is Mother Lizette Larson-Miller, an Episcopal priest and professor of Liturgy at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley. The St. John of God flyer tells us that she “… will trace where we’ve come in fifty years regarding liturgy.”
The March 2 speaker at Saint John of God was the openly homosexual Rev. Vincent Pizzuto. In 2007, Pizzuto was ordained a priest in the Celtic Christian Church, an ecclesial body not recognized by Rome. As CalCatholic reported in 2008: “In a discussion, ‘Is it Ethical to be Catholic? – Queer Perspectives,’ given at Most Holy Redeemer Church in San Francisco in 2006, Pizzuto said that ethical questions have ‘driven faithful Catholics beyond the confines of the Roman church where they might more faithfully live out their catholic faith elsewhere. And I count myself among them.’” Pizzuto is also a Professor of Theology at the University of San Francisco. St. John of God’s Lenten Vespers flyer said that Pizzuto “will give suggestions about where the Roman Catholic Church might be heading in the next fifty years.”
On Dec. 27, 2011 CalCatholic reported: Pizzuto “… described efforts to change the Church’s teachings as a ‘battle very much under way,’ and said that ‘the Bible, as we understand it really does not address current issues… what we need to change is not so much the scriptures, which of course we cannot change, but the interpretation that has been given to them. And that’s going to take a lot of theologically and biblically interpretive work to move us forward.’”
Other Lenten Vespers speakers at Saint John of God include Sr. Mariana Farina, C.S.C., Professor of Theology and Philosophy from the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley; Sr. Mary Ann Donovan, SC, Professor of Historical Theology and Spirituality from the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley; and Jorge Aquino, Professor of Catholic Social Thought from the University of San Francisco.
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