The July 17 issue of Catholic San Francisco contained a laudatory 1,100 word article on San Francisco’s notorious Most Holy Redeemer parish, as well as its pastor and parochial vicar. The parish, which now describes itself online as “an LGBT affirming parish”— meaning it thinks homosexuality is OK — has a long history of celebrating events and hosting persons utterly in contradiction to the Catholic Church’s teaching on sexuality, marriage, and the family.
Recent events include parishioners in 2013 forcing the former pastor Father Brian Costello to remove a portrait of the Pope Benedict XVI from the altar, because of His Holiness faithfulness to Church teaching on the family; the 2012 attempt to once again host a drag show (one of many such events, and killed by publicity from CalCatholic); the 2015 hosting of Equality California, the group devoted to pushing same-sex “marriage” in the state of California; and Father Matthew Link’s endorsement, in the August 24, 2014 parish bulletin, of the idea that a child can have two ‘dads’: “Next Sunday our little brother, (name redacted) will make his First Holy Communion. In this wonderfully good moment for all of us, we gather around the table with (name redacted) and his Dads, Kevin and Brian…”
The article profiled the current pastor, Father Matthew Link, and the associate pastor, Father Jack McClure (last year their positions were reversed), both members of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood Kansas City Province. The province is notorious for the presence of open homosexuals and public stands against the Catholic Church. In August of 2014, CalCatholic wrote about bay area Precious Blood priests Joe Nassal and David Matz: “Nassal presided at a November, 2011 DignitySF Mass, while Matz, in addition to celebrating Masses and leading an Advent Vespers Service at Most Holy Redeemer, came out in support of same-sex marriage at a Marin County event in 2008.”
The article quotes Father McClure as saying “We didn’t come here (Most Holy Redeemer) to change anybody” an assertion at odds with the obligations of a pastor, as set forth in Canon 519, which reads, in part “The pastor (parochus) is the proper pastor (pastor) of the parish entrusted to him, exercising the pastoral care of the community committed to him under the authority of the diocesan bishop in whose ministry of Christ he has been called to share, so that for that same community he carries out the functions of teaching, sanctifying, and governing.” Contra McClure’s statement, unless one has a parish filled with saints, the duties of a pastor require changing people—at least if the pastor has any concern about getting them into heaven.
While the article is one of many Catholic San Francisco has run about Most Holy Redeemer, it is the first that acknowledges, even celebrates, the parish’s homosexual orientation. Yet, strangely for such a laudatory article, it omits the significant role that the church’s parishioners have played in the Archdiocese, and beyond. Perhaps that is because, from the Catholic perspective, that role has been wholly negative.
In the current crisis now facing San Francisco Archdiocesan High Schools, the underlying issue is whether homosexuality will be celebrated as a good thing or not, as is evidenced by a perusal of the #teachacceptance Facebook page. Three parishioners from Most Holy Redeemer, a parish where the celebration of homosexuality has been the central value for 30 years, have chaired departments of religion/theology at archdiocesan High Schools: Ted de Saulnier at Riordan, John Ottersberg at Notre Dame de Namur, and Ray O’ Connor at Convent/Stuart Hall. A fourth, Jim Everritt, is the Principal of Sacred Heart of Atherton. Ottersberg, O’ Connor, and Everitt have all served as lectors at Most Holy Redeemer. De Saulnier led one of the parish’s charitable ministries. Since there are only about 90 parishes and 14 high schools in the archdiocese, Most Holy Redeemer is obviously overrepresented.
The gay-friendly church’s influence on youth extends into public schools: longtime parishioner Kevin Gogin, an ex-Jesuit priest, was tasked by the San Francisco Public School District in 2000 to develop “the first comprehensive program addressing LGBT issues within a school setting.” Gogin is now in charge of the District’s entire “Wellness Program.”
The article continues: “Signs heralding ‘God’s inclusive love proclaimed here’ have been a beacon to LGBT Catholics and visitors who represent more than half of the parish community….Fathers Link and McClure said the parish’s media reputation as the nation’s largest ‘gay parish’ is both short-sighted and changing. ‘We don’t see ourselves in just that way,’ said Father Link. Members of the parish community don’t identify or organize themselves based on their sexual orientation and the parish does not have even a ministry defined or directed specifically to the gay or LGBT community.”
But the author does not pursue the implications of the statement “the parish does not have even a ministry defined or directed specifically to the gay or LGBT community.” It’s certainly an odd lack for a Catholic church in the most homosexual neighborhood of the most homosexual city in the country, and begs the question: why not?
Had the author pursued that question, she would have discovered that at one time Most Holy Redeemer did indeed have an “LGBT Outreach Committee.” It was in the early 1980’s. Homosexual Jesuit priest Father Donal Godfrey wrote about it in on page 29 of his book Gays and Grays: The Story of Most Holy Redeemer Church: “The Gay and Lesbian outreach Committee—so unique, so bracing, so critically what the parish needed when it needed it—eventually withered away, a victim of its own success, when the entire parish had taken on the work it was formed to begin.” (Emphasis added). In other words, the entire parish became gay. According to Godfrey, by the late 1980’s, “about 60% of the people are gay or lesbian.” By the year 2000, according to the New York Times the parish was “80-90% gay.” Instead of a being a Catholic Church in the gay community, Most Holy Redeemer became, and still is, a gay spiritual institution where people received Catholic Sacraments.