Jesuit priest Donal Godfrey, during his August 23, 2020 homily at St. Agnes Catholic Church in San Francisco, stated that he celebrated mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory School (SHC) on the previous Friday – August 21, 2020; he said: “I had the honor of celebrating their welcome mass for their new students.”
Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep is a prestigious Archdiocesan Catholic school located in San Francisco, California. SHC is the oldest Catholic secondary school in the Archdiocese of San Francisco; and is owned by the Archdiocese.
During the highly tense 2015 negotiations between San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone and the Archdiocese’s Catholic educators regarding a new “contract” and handbook, many of the parents, alumni, teachers, and students at SHC were on the forefront of the opposition to certain directives in the contract and handbook which described same-sex marriage as “gravely evil.” When protestors publicly opposed the new contract and handbook – Donal Godfrey joined them.
Eventually Cordileone capitulated under the pressure and a revised contract and handbook did not describe same-sex marriage, as well as masturbation and in-vitro fertilization, as gravely evil; in addition, educators were no longer referred to as “ministers” therefore they were not contractually obligated to uphold Catholic teaching.
Ruiz has offered workshops to high school faculty and staff on the care for LGBTQ+ students in Catholic schools and is a member of the Marianist LGBT Initiative Team, which published a resource titled Addressing LGBT Issues with Youth: A Resource for Educators. He is also a leading member of the Young Adults group at Most Holy Redeemer parish in the Castro neighborhood of San Francisco, which is known for its integration of LGBTQ+ Catholics into the life of the Church.
Regarding the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage, Ruiz said:
The Church has always taught that the Holy Spirit speaks through the laity as well as the hierarchy. I hope the decision from the Supreme court, combined with polls that show that the majority of Catholics support same-sex marriage, encourages the hierarchy to be more in touch with the people, the sense of the faithful.
During his workshop at the 2018 Religious Education Congress, concerning how to instruct students about Church teachings on homosexuality, Ruiz stated:
We can teach Church teaching and explain the context in which Church teaching is being dialoged about…The goal of teaching, and Church teaching, on morality, in my opinion, is to help the students form their own conscience…some people are like – Oh, that’s creating cafeteria-Catholics, their gonna come and pick and choose what teachings they want to follow. Great! That means they are following their consciences about each of the items in the cafeteria…
Donal Godfrey was appointed (in 2007) executive director of University Ministry at the Jesuit-run University of San Francisco. Also, in 2007, Godfrey celebrated a now infamous “Gay Service” at Most Holy Redeemer, which was broadcast worldwide on BBC Radio4; when interviewed at this event, Godfrey said: “Being gay is not special…It’s simply another gift from God who created us as rainbow people.” Godfrey currently serves as Associate Director for Faculty and Staff Spirituality at USF.
Godfrey has been intimately involved with MHR for decades; he has served as a homilist at the parish, directed retreats, and wrote the definitive history of MHR: “The Gays and the Grays.” Here is an excerpt:
“If God must become Asian or African, then God is also in some sense queer…”
“Is it less appropriate for gays to imagine Jesus as gay than for African Christians to picture him as black, Asian Christians as Asian?”
In a 2015 article, “Community Dialogue on Transgender Phenomenon: A Reflection,” published in “Jesuit Higher Education: A Journal,” Godfrey wrote:
As a gay man who has had to struggle with the positions taken by my church, I have always had a passionate desire to build the kind of Church Pope Francis speaks of: “May we become a church that knows how to open her arms and welcome everybody…
I have come to believe in a God who not only crosses the boundaries of sexual orientation, but also those of gender.
Certainly I believe that God who is, in a sense, transgender, one that crosses all boundaries and social constructs.
On June 28, 2020, Godfrey offered a “Pride” mass at St. Agnes Church.