On March 13, Joseph Sciambra, writing at his blog josephsciambra.com, published an article called “Radical pro-gay Priest who teaches of a ‘gay’ Jesus to speak at Catholic San Francisco Parish.” The article, documenting the scheduled April 9 appearance of Jesuit Father Donal Godfrey at San Francisco’s Most Holy Redeemer Church, was subsequently picked up by a number of Catholic publications, including CalCatholic.
Mr. Sciambra, a same-sex attracted Catholic who struggles to live in accordance with the faith, began: “Donal Godfrey SJ, a Liverpool-born Jesuit priest noted for his ministry to the ‘gay’ community, which openly challenges Catholic teachings on homosexuality, will speak at Most Holy Redeemer Parish in San Francisco on April 9th, 2015. Most recognized for his book Gays and Grays (2008) which narrates the integration of the LGBTQ community at Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, in 2007, Fr. Godfrey was appointed executive director of University Ministry at the Jesuit-run University of San Francisco, even though his views against the Church’s position on homosexuality were already quite well-known.”
Sciambra’s article got results. On March 16, LifeSiteNews, in an article titled “San Francisco parish cancels talk by ‘gay’ priest following outcry against blasphemous statements,” quoted Archdiocesan sources as saying that “(Godfrey’s) talk has been canceled by the pastor of the parish, Fr. Matt Link.” [Editor’s note: the article has been taken off the LifeSiteNews site, but can be read here]
While the cancellation is welcome news for anyone concerned about the Catholic Church, it begs a number of questions. First, the cancellation seems odd from the perspective of Most Holy Redeemer. In February of 2016, as Mr. Sciambra had then reported, Most Holy Redeemer hosted the openly homosexual Episcopalian minister Vincent Pizzuto. Not only is Pizzuto is a colleague of Father Godfrey at USF, but the two men have virtually identical views of Church teaching on homosexuality.
Reverend Pizzuto: “On this at least (homosexuality) the teaching authority of the Church is given no credence by so many gay men and lesbians because it does not demonstrate its own credibility” (from ‘Queer Perspectives‘ talk given at Most Holy Redeemer Church in San Francisco in 2006). Father Godfrey: “The Catholic Church is not a credible moral voice within the gay community.” (from Gays and Grays, p. 153). So the question asks itself: why was Pizzuto allowed to speak and Godfrey not? It’s good that Father Link barred Father Godfrey—but then he did not bar the Rev. Pizzuto, who holds the same views. So perhaps the choice should not be left up to Father Link.
This leads to the second, and larger, question: where is the Archdiocese in all of this? What are its policies for vetting guest speakers on Catholic property and in Catholic Churches? The archdiocese actually has had such a policy in place, predating Cordileone’s arrival, but it is apparently being ignored.
Perhaps the most important, certainly the most publicized initiative of Archbishop Cordileone since his arrival in San Francisco has been the effort to restore Catholic identity and fidelity in the archdiocesan high schools. Yet Father Godfrey has been allowed access to archdiocesan students even before Cordileone’s arrival, and that allowance has continued. On All Saints Day 2011, Fr. Godfrey was invited to celebrate Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral for the students of Sacred Heart High School. That was four years after the publication of Gays and Grays, which had laid out in the clearest possible terms his divergence from the Catholic faith. Yet, out of the hundreds of priests in the Archdiocese, Godfrey was chosen to preach to the children.
On March 30, 2015, Father Godfrey joined a march of homosexual activists and a few Catholic school students protesting the Archbishop’s school initiative. CalCatholic covered the event (More Senior Citizens than High School Seniors: Anti-Cordileone extremists pose as students and parents, April 1 2015).
In April of 2015 Father Godfrey was invited to celebrate First Holy Communion at Stuart Hall School for Boys in San Francisco. As CalCatholic reported (Exhibit A for the Archbishop, May 1 2015), “On Saturday, April 26, San Francisco’s Stuart Hall for Boys elementary school, the male elementary school of the San Francisco’s ‘Schools of the Sacred Heart’ held the boys’ First Holy Communion. Of the hundreds of priests serving in Archdiocese of San Francisco who could have celebrated, Stuart Hall chose one of the most notorious homosexual activist priests in the world, Father Donal Godfrey, SJ.”
But the choice of Godfrey was hardly coincidental: as our article noted, “three members of the department of Theology at Stuart Hall’s High School are open homosexuals.” We further noted “the chair of Stuart Hall’s department of theology is Raymond O’Connor. According to a September 24, 2013 profile in the Convent and Sacred Heart News, O’Connor has been at Sacred Heart/Stuart Hall since 2000. He spent ten years training for the priesthood, nine of which were with the Jesuits. Not coincidentally, Father Godfrey is also a Jesuit.”
In addition to his position at Stuart Hall, Mr. O’Connor is a parishioner of Most Holy Redeemer, and for a number of years, served as the parish coordinator of lectors. There is an obvious pattern here whose detection can only be avoided with a deliberate and conscious effort: “Jesuit,” “Ex-Jesuit,” and “Most Holy Redeemer” seem to go together. Less than two weeks ago (University of San Francisco/Most Holy Redeemer Axis Strikes Again, 3/7/2016) CalCatholic reported on another ex-Jesuit priest and Most Holy Redeemer parishioner, Kevin Gogin. Gogin, who is ‘married’ to USF Professor Dan McPherson, is Director of Safety and Wellness for the San Francisco Unified School District, and he served as point man for the district’s recent initiative to provide condoms to middle school students—without notifying parents.
It is ironic that the Jesuit Father Godfrey, who is not being allowed to speak at, of all places, Most Holy Redeemer, seems to be under no such restrictions from the Archdiocese.