To All Our Friends, Our Community, And The World: A Very Joyful Christmas
by Belinda Dronkers-Laureta on December 23rd, 2011

Keeping Families Together

The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog

December 23, 2011

To All Our Friends, Our Community, And The World: A Very Joyful Christmas


A Christmas Story?

We have a Christmas story. Sort of. Maybe. Well, maybe not, but here it is anyway. San Francisco’s Archbishop George Niederauer nixed an invitation to three pro gay and lesbian activists by the Most Holy Redeemer catholic parish in the Castro. The three were to participate in the church’s Advent services. A spokesman for the archdiocese said: “The basic reason is that Archbishop Niederauer felt the themes for vespers should better reflect the themes of Advent.” Aside from a myopic archbishop, this story has several aspects that can be dissected.

Is Not One Theme Of The Advent Love?

Advent means “coming” or “arrival.” It starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve. Its focus is the celebration of the birth of Christ, His first coming, and the anticipation of His second coming. Advent thus celebrates the past and the future and its themes of hope, peace, joy, and love reflect that. Christians eagerly await the second coming and during this time between advents are stewards of the values their God taught them, among which is inclusive and unconditional love. Archbishop Niederauer apparently believes that God exempts LGBT people from his love and signals that his flock can do the same.

The Most Holy Redeemer Parish Is A Beacon In The Catholic Night

The three activists who were disinvited did not blame the Most Holy Redeemer parish, but placed the blame squarely on the archbishop. This is remarkable, a parish that is so different from the otherwise monolithic catholic hierarchy that it is seen as separate from it. The Castro’s catholic parish is a gem to be honored and defended. Much has been written about its gay activism and one quote says much:

Most Holy Redeemer is not a Catholic church with gay members. It is a gay spiritual institution that is willing to use Catholicism, including the sacraments, just as far as they can be made “inclusive” of the formative experience of the parish, which is homosexuality, and no farther.

The Reverend Jane Spahr, one of the persons disinvited, said that the members of the Most Holy Redeemer parish need not apologize for the archbishop’s decision and wrote: “The heart of your ministry embraces true hospitality and welcome, the kind of ministry Jesus lived.” The Reverend Spahr is a retired Presbyterian minister who defied her church by marrying same-sex couples and was convicted for this by a Presbyterian Church court. Perhaps the archbishop and the reverend ought to meet so she can teach him what it means to be a Christian.

The Catholic Church Is a Bureaucracy

Most Holy Redeemer parish may be seen as separate from the catholic hierarchy, but, alas, it is not. The Catholic Church is a bureaucracy. One of bureaucracy’s characteristics is that it is managed by rules. Over time the circumstances that led to the formulation of the rules are forgotten and the rule is all that matters. A consequence of this is that people who know the rules and are good at politics advance in the organization. No doubt the Archbishop of San Francisco knows his rules and is a successful politician. To bad that he forgotten what his God really is all about: inclusiveness, love, and compassion.

Merry Christmas Everybody!

Of course, the church is an obstacle to LGBT acceptance and respect, but as long as there are parishes like the Most Holy Redeemer there is hope. Hope is one of the themes of Advent too. Happy holidays.

Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride


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