The appointment of Salvatore Cordileone as ninth archbishop of the archdiocese of San Francisco continues to send shock waves far and wide. On Saturday, September 29, the New York Times ran a story titled “San Francisco’s New Archbishop Worries Gay Catholics” by Norimitsu Onishi.
The story began: “At Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in the Castro, this city’s largest gay district, about 20 of the faithful gathered for 8 a.m. Mass recently, clustering in the middle pews. Led by a visiting priest from nearby Oakland, the parishioners joined in celebrating the 30th anniversary of a gay couple…. But the appointment of a new leader of the archdiocese here — Bishop Salvatore Cordileone, 56, a rising conservative who led the fight against same-sex marriage in California — has many gay and lesbian Roman Catholics worried about the fate of these sanctuaries.”
The author then went to a few “experts,” for reactions to the Cordileone appointment. Some of them will be familiar to readers of CalCatholic. While their field of expertise may be murky their opposition to the teaching of the Church on homosexuality is crystal clear.
They included Donal Godfrey, S.J., the former executive director of campus ministry at the (Jesuit) University of San Francisco and the Reverend Vincent Pizzuto, who is a professor of religious studies at the school. Both men have admitted their homosexuality. The presence of the two in the article underscores the close ties between Most Holy Redeemer and the university.
Godfrey’s current status is as an associate director of university ministry at USF. He had been executive director, but that ended right about the time CalCatholic revealed that a long-time friend of Godfrey’s, Patrick Mulcahey, whom he had interviewed extensively for his book Gays and Grays: The Story of Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, had been teaching workshops in the “Master/slave” lifestyle and kept another man as a “slave.”
On the very first page of Gays and Grays, Godfrey acknowledged: “Three others gave special support. They are Patrick Mulcahey, Dr. Patti Jung, and Robert Garrett. Patrick Mulcahey is a friend, three time Emmy-winning writer, and parishioner at Most Holy Redeemer.” In fact, Mulcahey had served as vice-president of the church’s pastoral council, and as a Eucharistic minister.
The section of the Times article wherein Godfrey was interviewed attempted to create a wedge between previous bishops and Cordileone on the issue of homosexuality: “The bishop’s record on marriage stands in contrast, experts said, to those of predecessors who have tried to accommodate gay residents of San Francisco.” Two paragraphs later Mr. Onishi quoted his “expert” Father Godfrey “None of them (meaning Quinn, Levada, Niederauer) would have challenged the actual teaching of the church. But at the same time, each of them had a different relationship with the parish and the gay community.”
That is selective memory, and ignores the role played by Archbishop George Niederauer in support of Proposition 8. In fact, Niederauer’s support for marriage so incensed another Most Holy Redeemer parish council member, Matt Dorsey, that he prevailed on the organizers of San Francisco’s Gay Pride Parade to bestow the satirical 2009 Pink Brick award to the archbishop.
“’It’s very difficult to know why a particular appointment is made of a certain bishop to a certain diocese by the Vatican,’ said Vincent Pizzuto, an associate professor of religious studies at the University of San Francisco, a Jesuit school. ‘But in this instance, it’s very difficult not to see this as a signaling of an attempt to rein in the diocese, particularly on hot-button issues like homosexuality and same-gender marriage.’”
The identification of Pizzuto as a professor by the Times author is true as far as it goes. It ignores the significance of Pizzuto’s status as a priest of the Celtic Christian Church. That church, in which Pizzuto was ordained in 2006, was formed in opposition to the Catholic Church.
Despite that, USF, a Catholic university, employs Pizzuto as both the director of the Catholic Studies and Social Thought minor and the chair of the department of theology and religious studies. On December 12, 2001 Pizzuto was a guest on a KALW radio show called “Far from Rome: On Being Gay and Catholic in the Bay Area,” where he said “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.”
To read entire New York Times story, click here.