In the realm of local activism, next week’s planned protests against the installation of San Francisco’s new archbishop could reach biblical proportions.
The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence — a group of gay-rights activists whose members satirically wear the garb of Roman Catholic nuns — is furious about the recent naming of Oakland Bishop Salvatore Cordileone to lead San Francisco’s 91-parish archdiocese. The Sisters are targeting Cordileone mostly for his central role in advocacy and fundraising for Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage statewide in 2008.
Cordileone — who also has attained renown for his support of immigrant rights — shared his view on same-sex couples during a July news conference in which he said LGBT individuals should be aware that “we love them and we want to help them,” but that the church’s position remains firmly against gay marriage “for the good of our society.”
In what was seen as a provocative move by the church, an annual drag queen event held at the Castro neighborhood’s LGBT-friendly Most Holy Redeemer Church was initially cancelled, but then reinstated “as long as their behavior was church-appropriate.”
While activists aren’t saying exactly what they plan to do for Cordileone’s Oct. 4 installation mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral, they’re signaling something more than garden-variety picketing.
“Traditional demonstrations with signs don’t work anymore,” said Sister Zsa Zsa Glamour, who declined to provide a real name. “We’re still deciding on how best to respond to his installation.”
George Wesolek, an archdiocese spokesman, said church leaders are aware of the protests and security measures are being put in place.
“We are going to be fully secure,” Wesolek said, adding that the planned three-hour event is fully booked, with invitations sent out and parishioners having claimed all available tickets. “They have to stay off the plaza. The police will be there, of course — we want to disrupt any attempt to disrupt the ceremonies.”
Nonetheless, Wesolek said the church will respect protesters’ First Amendment rights.
“While people have a right to protest, we have the right to celebrate,” he said.
Glamour said activists will relentlessly dog Cordileone as long as he holds his position.
“This is not something that’s up for a vote,” Glamour said. “So we’re just going to have to stay on him when he does anything.”
Although Cordileone has yet to assume his new position, his image also was tarnished by a recent arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol in San Diego. Cordileone has apologized for his conduct in that instance.