(Pictured above: Link and Archbishop Cordileone in June 2016; later that month, the MHR sanctuary would include the rainbow flag.)
In the April 2016 issue of “The New Wine Press,” the official newsletter of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood – Kansas City Province, were featured two prominent articles: one by Matthew Link, C.PP.S., Pastor at Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Parish [MHR] in San Francisco and the other by Cathy Pankiewicz, who is the mother of a “gay” son.
In his article “Coming Home,” Link briefly describes the history of the Most Holy Redeemer, his arrival at MHR with Jack McClure, C.PP.S., in 2014, the character and charism of the Parish, and the various ministries, but he spends most of his time detailing their outreach to the homeless community. He also makes a special point to mention that the Parish was featured in the National Catholic Reporter:
“MHR parishioners come from the entire Bay Area, and each week we have visitors and guests from all over the world. Tom Fox wrote in his five-part National Catholic Reporter series on the parish that “MHR has earned a reputation for being a distinctly open and accepting parish” (NCR, 3/10/2015).
Here are some quotes from that series of articles:
♦The institutional church professes that all expressions of sexual intimacy must be limited to marriage and must always be open to procreation. These teachings eliminate gays and lesbians from having any licit intimate relations. The Catholic hierarchy has routinely rebuffed efforts by Catholic theologians to introduce a more pastoral moral theology.
♦When applied to religious or clerical life, the virtue of chastity is viewed as a gift given to a relative few — those who enter religious communities or become priests. When applied to LGBT people, there is no talk about chastity as a ‘gift.’ Rather, the institutional church teaches, it is a demand, an obligation, across the board, for all. LGBT people, the church teaches, must refrain from all sexual intimacy.
This seemingly impossible demand and concomitant threat of serious sin has sent countless young LGBT Catholics into confusion and self-loathing and even to suicide.
♦Talk to almost any parishioner and they’ll willingly — and proudly — say what they think makes their parish unique. Nick Andrade, a parishioner for nearly two decades, lives with his husband. The men, like other gay couples, have adopted and raised children in the parish…He is one of several parish members who have been active at the archdiocesan level, having been on the board of Catholic Charities for 12 years and is active on two school boards.
♦Nanette Lee Miller tells a typical story. She grew up Catholic, married, but eventually recognized it wasn’t working. After years of counseling and discernment, she realized she was gay. She went through what she terms a “friendly divorce” and moved back to San Francisco.
“I always felt I had a spiritual bent, but never quite felt comfortable in a Catholic parish,” she said. So she tried New Age, Buddhism and the Episcopal church. But her spiritual quest went unfulfilled until she found Most Holy Redeemer.
“I think the most important feeling [at MHR],” she said, “is its warmth, its welcoming and acceptance.” The experience was so gay-friendly that her partner decided to become Catholic.
Miller became increasingly active in the parish, and eventually president of the parish council. Through her parish activities in the 1990s, she and her partner got to know San Francisco’s then-archbishop, William Levada (later the cardinal prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith). Levada invited Miller to join the San Francisco archdiocese’s Catholic Charities board as its first openly gay member, and eventually she joined the archdiocesan finance board, a position she has held under each of the last three archbishops.
♦Andy Pino: “I came out of the closet, met Jason, and we fell in love. Soon after, I realized that I had become a person of faith staring at the Catholic Church from the outside in…For nearly a decade Jason and I were Catholics without a parish…We found Most Holy Redeemer online, by reading parish reviews on Yelp. What we found was a community that far exceeded our expectations. The Catholicism I had known and loved as a child was alive in the Castro.”
Link was the Associate Pastor at MHR from July 2014 to September 2015; he was made Pastor when McClure appeared at a women’s ordination conference in Philadelphia. When asked for a comment about McClure’s departure, Link said: “It’s tough.” But, McClure, as does the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, had a long history of dissent:
One of Fr. McClure’s former assignments was as associate pastor (2010-2011) at St. Thomas Aquinas Church and Catholic Student Center in Ames, Iowa. In 2010, while in residence, he revived a gay-straight student alliance called “Belonging.” According to their mission statement: “Belonging seeks to create a space for LGBT people, their families, and allies, so they may feel welcomed at St. Thomas Aquinas. We act as a point of entry to St. Thomas Aquinas and the Catholic Church for LGBT people and, thus, provide a way to bring in new and returning people, their skills and talents, to the parish and Church.” There is no mention made of chastity. However, the group featured a large selection of letters from members and supporters on their web-site. Here is an excerpt from one:
“Little by little society is coming to realize that homosexuality is not an illness as it was viewed in past decades, nor a sinful way of life (not a Old Testament abomination), but an identity. Individuals in all walks of life – students, caregivers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, clergy – are choosing to come forth to claim their identity, which gives courage to others to do the same. The stigma is slowly diminishing in society, but not at all in the institution of the Catholic Church. A friend once asked me, ‘How can you remain a Catholic given the attitude of the church regarding homosexuality?’ I ponder this myself.”
In 2016, Link allowed the Rev. Vincent Pizzuto, a self-described Celtic Priest, to speak at the Parish. An outspoken critic of Catholicism and the Church’s stance on homosexuality, Pizzuto once said: “On this at least (homosexuality) the teaching authority of the Church is given no credence by so many gay men and lesbians because it does not demonstrate its own credibility. To the contrary, its teachings on homosexuality are so disengaged from reality as to render them utterly ridiculous.”
Part and parcel with this “inclusive” “gay” approving apostolate of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood is the article, “O The Places You’ll Go (as NOT told by Dr. Seuss),” by Cathy Pankiewicz; here are some excerpts:
♦On February 20th, the LGBT committee of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood offered a daylong workshop on lgbt issues in light of the Synod on the Family. Having attended with approximately 40 others, I was invited to reflect not only on my parenting journey with a gay child, but also on the journey my Catholic Church is on.
♦This past weekend my husband Tom and I set sail for a Day of Reflection and Prayer sponsored by the LGBT committee of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. We boarded a slightly larger ship than our own. We found it filled with parents, priests, nuns, and the holy lay faithful who love the Church and love a gay person…Steering the boat were Frank DeBernardo and Sister Jeannine Grammick of New Ways Ministries.
♦Our Precious Blood fathers and sisters could simply throw us a copy of the Catechism and tell us to get to Mass this Sunday. Fortunately, like Saint John the XXIII and Pope Francis, they remind us that they are on the journey with us as they extol the “ancient teaching of the medicine of mercy in an era when many in the Church prefer the narrow path of severity and condemnation.
Sr. Jeannine Gramick, along with Fr. Robert Nugent, founded an organization called New Ways Ministry which, throughout its tortured history, has openly and stridently opposed Church teachings on homosexuality.
The blatantly dissident teachings and activities of both Gramick and Nugent first caught the attention of a few concerned Church officials in both the US and at the Vatican during the 1970s; by 1982, James Cardinal Hickey of Washington contacted the Congregation for Religious and Secular Institutes requesting that Gramick and Nugent be removed from leadership roles at New Ways Ministry. In 1984, both Gramick and Nugent turned New Ways Ministry over to lay control, but both continued to write and speak publicly against the teachings of the Church; subsequently a lengthy Papal investigation was launched that culminated with a 1999 “Notification” which made the following determination:
“Given the failure of the repeated attempts of the Church’s legitimate authorities to resolve the problems presented by the writings and pastoral activities of the two authors, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is obliged to declare for the good of the Catholic faithful that the positions advanced by Sister Jeannine Gramick and Father Robert Nugent regarding the intrinsic evil of homosexual acts and the objective disorder of the homosexual inclination are doctrinally unacceptable because they do not faithfully convey the clear and constant teaching of the Catholic Church in this area….For these reasons, Sister Jeannine Gramick, SSND, and Father Robert Nugent, SDS, are permanently prohibited from any pastoral work involving homosexual persons.”
While Fr. Nugent objected to the “Notification,” afterwards he did step back from public ministry and later primarily served as a chaplain on pilgrimages for gays and their family members; Nugent passed away in 2014. As for Sr. Gramick, after the “Notification,” she became even more defiant stating that: “I choose not to collaborate in my own oppression.” In 2000, her religious congregation, the School Sisters of Notre Dame, told her to cease speaking publicly on the topic of homosexuality. Sr. Gramick rejected the request, and then transferred to the Sisters of Loretto, who support her ministry. Since, she continues to write, lecture, and campaign for full inclusion of sexually active homosexuals into the Church.
From her article, Pankiewicz was plainly aware of the controversy surrounding Gramick and New Ways Ministry, but, for whatever reason, chose to ignore the warnings:
I googled New Ways Ministries and, as expected, found a range of reactions, everything from condemnations from some clergy and laity to and miles and miles of postings from Catholic families expressing deep gratitude for the bravery…
Gramick once said:
The most substantial challenge to official Church teaching comes from Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, a retired bishop from Australia. In his current book, For Christ’s Sake, and in a previous book, Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church, Bishop Robinson calls for a radical reexamination of the Church’s teaching on all sexual issues, which would affect both homosexual and heterosexual relationships. He believes that sexual morality should be based not on authority, but on people taking responsibility for their actions and their lives. Bishop Robinson is asking Catholics all over the world to sign a petition for a third Vatican Council to begin worldwide discussions not only among the bishops, but also among all the members of the Church…These actions and comments indicate that the official Church is beginning to acknowledge a need to rethink homosexual relationships and, according to some bishops, its theology of sexuality.
The other speaker at the Precious Blood event was Francis DeBernardo; he is the Executive Director of New Ways Ministry. After same-sex marriage was legalized by the Supreme Court in 2015, DeBernardo stated:
New Ways Ministry rejoices with millions of U.S. Catholics that the U.S. Supreme Court has decided in favor of marriage equality for lesbian and gay couples! On this historic day, we pray in thanksgiving that justice and mercy have prevailed and that the prayers and efforts of so many have combined to move our nation one step closer to fairness and equality for all.
On the MHR official web-site, in the Resources section, is a link to the “Gay Catholic Forum;” this link takes you directly to “Bondings 2.0” – “a project of New Ways Ministry, a gay-positive ministry of advocacy and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Catholics…”
In 2010, Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I, archbishop of Chicago and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued the following statement on the status of the organization “New Ways Ministry;” here is an excerpt:
No one should be misled by the claim that New Ways Ministry provides an authentic interpretation of Catholic teaching and an authentic Catholic pastoral practice. Their claim to be Catholic only confuses the faithful regarding the authentic teaching and ministry of the Church with respect to persons with a homosexual inclination. Accordingly, I wish to make it clear that, like other groups that claim to be Catholic but deny central aspects of Church teaching, New Ways Ministry has no approval or recognition from the Catholic Church and that they cannot speak on behalf of the Catholic faithful in the United States.