On Wednesday, June 27, the U. S. Supreme Court handed down two decisions – on Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Amendment – that eviscerated legal marriage in the United States. The following Sunday thus offered Catholic priests an opportunity to articulate the Church’s definition of what marriage is.
At San Francisco’s St. Ignatius Church, the 9:30 a.m. Mass on Sunday, June 30 was celebrated by the church’s pastor, Father Gregory Bonfiglio, S.J. Father Bonfiglio chose to read a letter written by Father John Whitney, S.J, of St. Joseph’s Church in Seattle. In the letter, titled “Why am I in the parade?” which ran to 1,098 words, Father Whitney justified his presence in Seattle’s Gay Pride parade. The letter was published in St. Joseph’s June 23 parish bulletin. In the letter Father Whitney equated Church teaching on homosexuality with Old Testament dietary restrictions and repeated the long-debunked assertion that the word “faggot” comes from faggot of wood.
From Father Whitney’s letter: “I am going [to the parade] to support the mothers and fathers, the sisters and brothers, the friends and companions of our gay and lesbian parishioners, who have pride in their daughters and sons and who long to have them feel loved and welcomed at the table of Christ and in the body of the Church.”
During Father Bonfiglio’s reading of the letter, the church was eerily quiet. At least one female parishioner was seen leaving the church in tears. When queried, she said, “It’s not his Church! It’s the Catholic Church! I should be able to just go to church! I want to go to a Catholic church!”
In addition to regular parishioners, the Mass was also attended by a family who had come from some distance because the intention of the Mass was for a deceased family member. In addition, a little girl was receiving her First Holy Communion at the Mass. Those families, one in the process of mourning and the second experiencing their daughter’s reception of Jesus Christ for the very first time, were forced to listen to Father Bonfiglio’s opinions.
Father Bonfiglio and Father Whitney are members of the dying Jesuit order. St. Ignatius is San Francisco’s flagship Jesuit parish, the church of the University of San Francisco. The presence of open homosexuals among the California Jesuit priesthood, and among the faculty of California’s Jesuit universities, is well documented. The associate director of University Ministry at USF, Father Donal Godfrey, S.J., is openly homosexual. The rector of the Jesuit community at Santa Clara, Father Michael Zampelli, S.J, is openly homosexual. The chair of the department of theology and religious studies at USF, Father Vincent Pizzuto, is openly homosexual. The former pastor of St. Agnes, San Francisco’s other Jesuit parish, Father Cameron Ayers, S.J, is openly homosexual. At least Father Ayers had the integrity to leave the Catholic Church and join the Episcopal Church.
Although that list barely scratches the surface, the open homosexuality expresses a deeper problem. The St. Ignatius Jesuits have actually replaced Catholicism with something else. In 2010, CalCatholic reported that the Jesuits had replaced the confessionals at St. Ignatius with an art gallery—an art gallery actually inside the church. The action was significant. Removing objects with a critical Catholic sacramental function from a Catholic Church, and replacing them with an art gallery, an environment in which objects are considered under their aesthetic aspect alone could never have been done by a genuine Catholic.