SAN FRANCISCO, August 10, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) - A group helping homosexuals recover from drug and alcohol abuse has canceled a fundraiser on Catholic parish grounds in protest, after the church said it would no longer allow drag queens in such events.
The Castro County Club said it was disappointed in the new policy at Most Holy Redeemer Parish, located in the Castro district of San Francisco, a change that was handed down from the archdiocesan level. The famously liberal Bay area was rocked last month by Pope Benedict XVI’s appointment of Bishop Salvatore Cordileone, a staunch and outspoken defender of Catholic teaching on sexuality, to the Archdiocese of San Francisco. The archdiocese had previously been a source of scandal to conservative Catholics through its frequent engagement with the gay rights community.
The club lamented the loss of venue for the drag queens, which had held previous fundraisers on parish grounds.
“In previous years, we have had Ivy Drip and Heklina, both well-known entertainers and community fundraisers, serve as emcees of the event, and we felt we could not in good conscience abide by the church’s new policy,” the board said.
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The archdiocese has a history of scandal involving the local gay rights community.
In 2007, Archbishop George Niederauer apologized after he was filmed giving Holy Communion to the “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence,” a group of men in flamboyant nun outfits whose mockery of Catholic culture is a staple at local homosexual events. Most Holy Redeemer Parish has frequently stood at the center of the controversy, hosting “gay pride” masses and sending a contingent to the city’s obscene Pride Weekend and gay pride parade.
Most Holy Redeemer’s new pastor, the Reverend Brian Costello, said that he was “big on compromising” and praised the club’s positive work in the community, but said the group “would not work with me.” This May, Costello took over for Rev. Steve Meriwether, who famously supported the church’s celebration of the homosexual lifestyle.
Meriwether, a former archdiocesan chancellor, used to bless gay pride participants with holy water and was demoted after hosting the transgendered “Sisters” for a lewd bingo fundraiser whose prizes included pornographic DVDs and sex toys.
Costello said he had offered to continue hosting the fundraiser as long as no drag queens were present.
“It was all or nothing. And they got nothing,” he said, according to the Bay Area Reporter.
The pastor said “we have had bad experiences” with the drag queens, “not only in church, but also the [social] hall.”
Meanwhile, gay rights advocates are voicing alarm over the arrival of Archbishop-elect Cordileone, who as head of the Diocese of Oakland was a prominent force behind Proposition 8, the state’s amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman.
The bishop also issued an ultimatum earlier this year to the Oakland-based national Catholic Association for Lesbian and Gay Ministry, telling the group after a year of talks that he would declare the group “not authentically Catholic” if it refused to endorse traditional Church teaching on sexuality.
The Chicago-based Rainbow Sash Movement (RSM), a group dedicated to changing church teaching to welcome open homosexuality, has also weighed in on the changes at the archdiocese that was once one of its closest allies. The group once praised outgoing Archbishop George Niederauer as appearing to “defus[e] homophobia in his archdiocese.” Co-founder Joe Murray noted that, although “homophobia in the church existed prior to this event,” the change foreshadows a new level of conflict.
“The appointment of Archbishop-elect Cordileone has brought this matter to a head,” said Murray.
Bishop Cordileone is scheduled officially to take the reins at San Francisco on October 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi.