Castro's Catholic Archbishop cancels talks by gay clergy members

AP file photoExecutive decision: A spokesman for Archbishop George Niederauer

AP file photoExecutive decision: A spokesman for Archbishop George Niederauer

Three gay and lesbian clergy members are not feeling the Christmas spirit this holiday season after the Castro’s Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church canceled its planned Advent vespers speaking engagements.

Archbishop George Niederauer asked the parish to rescind its invitations to the Rev. Jane Spahr, the Rev. Roland Stringfellow and retired Episcopal Bishop Otis Charles. His spokesman, George Wesolek, said the archbishop made it clear that “he would prefer vespers that would better reflect the themes of Advent.”

Advent is a Catholic holy season that takes place the four weeks before Christmas and is sometimes celebrated with special services called Advent vespers.

Stringfellow, the director of ministerial outreach for the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, was scheduled to speak at Most Holy Redeemer on Wednesday. He said he was disappointed in the archbishop’s actions.

“Advent is one of the high holy days of the church,” Stringfellow said. “It talks about the love and compassion God has for all human beings. I’m just so sorry that message got lost on the Catholic Church.”

Charles, who heard that he’d been uninvited the night before his scheduled talk, said he had interpreted his invitation to speak at the parish as a sign of growing acceptance for the gay and lesbian community in Catholicism.

“I recognize that the archbishop and I are not on the same page on all the questions that relate to how gay and lesbian people are enfolded into the church, but the fact there could be a conversation — that I could be speaking, that I could be participating, was a sign of openness,” Charles said. “Well, obviously that openness was not there on the part of the archbishop.”

Charles, who made headlines when he became one of the first bishops to announce he was gay and married his partner in San Francisco, said he is familiar with feeling unwelcome in the Roman Catholic Church.

But more troubling, he said, is the message sent to other LGBT Catholics.

“There were three of us that were disinvited, but in a sense, every single gay and lesbian member of that congregation was disinvited,” Charles said.

Wesolek said he did not know whether the sexual orientation of the three speakers had anything to do with Niederauer’s disapproval of their speaking engagements.

sgantz@sfexaminer.com

Bay Area NewsCastroLocalneighborhoodsSan Francisco

Just Posted

Niners defensive lineman Joey Bosa played a major role in stopping the Eagles in a Week 2 San Francisco victory. (Courtesy San Francisco 49ers)
What we learned from Niners beating the Eagles

By Mychael Urban Special to The Examiner Is your glass half-empty? Niners… Continue reading

If he secured a full term in the Senate, Newsom would become the most powerful Californian Democrat since Phil Burton at the height of his career, or maybe ever. <ins>(Kevin Hume/The Examiner)</ins>
Artist Agnieszka Pilat, pictured with Spot the Robot Dog from Boston Robotics, has a gallery show opening at Modernism. (Courtesy Agnieszka Pilat)
Screenshots of VCs, Kanye and tech parties by the Bay

In this week’s roundup, Ben Horowitz’s surprising hip-hop knowledge and the chic tech crowd at Shack15

San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler, pictured in July at Oracle Park, says team members simultaneously can be “measured and calm” and “looking to push the accelerator.” (Chris Victorio/Special to The Examiner)
How Gabe Kapler sets the tone for Giants’ success with strategy, mindset

‘There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s the hands-down manager of the year’

Firefighters extinguish burning material near Lake Tahoe on Sept. 3 in the wake of the Caldor Fire; environmental scientists say the huge fire is bringing to light deficiencies in forest management. <ins>(Max Whittaker/New York Times)</ins>
Cal Fire, timber industry must face an inconvenient truth

We are logging further into the wildfire and climate crisis

Most Read