By John-Henry Westen

SAN FRANCISCO, October 12, 2007 ( – Nearly a week after being filmed giving communion to two gay activists dressed as ‘nuns’ Archbishop George H. Niederauer has apologized in a column for the diocesan Catholic San Francisco newspaper. In his column, the San Francisco Archbishop repeats statements previously given to about not being aware of any disruption, nor recognizing any “mock religious garb.” (see coverage: )

However, the column adds that he was not aware during the Mass that those “strangely dressed persons” were members of the ‘Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence’ a group which the Archbishop says was denounced by his predecessor. “Although I had often seen photographs of members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, I had never encountered them in person until October 7th. I did not recognize who these people were when they approached me,” he writes.

Coverage of the video spectacle of the Archbishop handing the two communion and reaction by Catholic and pro-family organizations was intense, with many communicating their concerns to both the Archbishop and Vatican authorities.

Apologizing, the Archbishop says, “After the event, I realized that they were members of this particular organization and that giving them Holy Communion had been a mistake. I apologize to the Catholics of the Archdiocese of San Francisco and to Catholics at large for doing so.”

“Someone who dresses in a mock religious habit to attend Mass does so to make a point. If people dress in a manner clearly intended to mock what we hold sacred, they place themselves in an objective situation in which it is not appropriate for them to receive Holy Communion, much less for a minister of the Church to give the Sacrament to them,” says the Archbishop.

“Therefore I conclude that the presence of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence at the Mass on October 7th was intended as a provocative gesture. In that moment I failed to recognize it as such, and for that, as I have said, I must apologize.”

Catholic World News editor, Phil Lawler, in a column today, writes that Archbishop Niederauer’s apology is one “that no discerning Catholic could accept” given the bishops knowledge of what has been going on at the homosexual activist parish prior to his visit. Lawler states, “When he visited the parishâEUR¦the archbishop must have been keenly aware of the likelihood that he would encounter homosexual activists in general, and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence in particular. When these two demonstrators approached him in their bizarre attire, he should have known—must have known—what he was facing”.

Anthony Gonzales of St. Joseph’s Men Society, one of the groups which filmed the Archbishop giving the ‘sisters’ Communion, told that he was pleased with the apology. Gonzales, who will be discussing the matter on Fox’s O’Reilly Factor tonight, added, however, that “The Archbishop has a history of “mistakes” especially where homosexuality is concerned.”

In 1986, Niederauer wrote a letter to an Orange County judge asking that a priest convicted of 26 counts of felony child sexual abuse be spared prison time – the priest received no jail time for the offences. Niederauer wrote that the boys involved might have mistaken “horsing around” for molestation. Niederauer later admitted that the letter had been a “mistake.” (a copy of the letter is available here:âEUR¦ )

In 2004, Archbishop Niederauer publicly opposed a Utah ballot initiative that constitutionally banned same-sex marriage because it included a ban on civil unions.

In 1996, as bishop of Salt Lake City, he helped form a coalition of religious leaders opposing the ban on high-school “gay-straight alliances” proposed by the Utah legislature.

In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle last year the then-incoming Archbishop praised the film Brokeback Mountain which had been condemned by pro-family groups as a dangerous homosexual propaganda film. Niederauer admitted to seeing the film and called it “very powerful”. He added that “one of the lessons (of the film) is the destructiveness of not being honest with yourself and not honest with other people and not being faithful, trying to live a double life.” (see coverage )

When the Vatican proposed that homosexual men, practicing or not, should not be ordained to the priesthood, Archbishop Niederauer’s spin on the document incorrectly took it only to mean that homosexuals, like heterosexuals, must be able to “be able and willing to subordinate all relationships and conduct all relationships with others in a way that’s compatible with a celibate lifestyle.”

“I hope he apologizes for some of his other lapses from authentic Catholic teaching,” concluded Gonzales.

Brian Burch, President of Fidelis, a national Catholic-based advocacy group, reacted to the Archbishop’s apology saying, “This is a welcome decision on the part of the San Fransico Archbishop to stand up for the consistent and authentic teaching of the Church and to publicly resist those who make a mockery of the Church.”

Burch told, “The city of San Francisco continues to be a source of growing hostility and public scandal when it comes to marriage and the Catholic Church. Catholic leaders like Archbishop Niederauer deserve our prayerful support especially knowing that this incident likely will not be the last time he will be required to act publicly in defense of the Church.

See the Archbishop’s full column here: