On March 21, 2021, Fr. Joe Nassal, C.PP.S., celebrated Mass at Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church (MHR) in San Francisco. In a 2015 article from “The National Catholic Reporter,” MHR was described as “the ‘gayest’ Catholic parish in the nation.” Nassal is the provincial director of the Kansas City Province of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood; the pastor at MRH is Fr. Matt Link, C.PP.S. – a priest with the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. During his homily, Nassal criticized the March 15th statement from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that prohibited same-sex union “blessings” in the Catholic Church. Nassal said:
“…that’s what I heard in Pope Francis, again and again, how that revolution of the heart must start and begin with each one of us when we take the lowest place; it’s a revolution of mercy, a revolution of compassion, a revolution of love. Which is why the negative pronouncement regarding the blessings of same-sex unions last Monday was very disappointing to many – from his statements early in his papacy, when he said about gay priests, “Who am I to judge?” to his support for civil protection of same-sex couples last fall, Pope Francis has reflected an inclusivity that has instilled hope in many people throughout the world, most especially within the LGBTQ community…in 2005, when the Vatican issued a declaration which decreed that men with a homosexual orientation were banned from the seminary and the priesthood, Fr. Timothy Radcliffe…was asked what he thought about the ban, and he said: “ I wish the Church would be more concerned about who seminaries hate than who they love.” And that line came to me last Monday because I hope the Church would focus more on how we are to love and honor and bless each person as a child of god, rather than denying god’s grace or blessing to anyone.”
In 2012, Timothy Radcliffe wrote:
“It is heartening to see the wave of support for gay marriages. It shows a society that aspires to an open tolerance of all sorts of people, a desire for us to live together in mutual acceptance. It seems obviously fair and right that if straight people can get married, why not gay people?”
From May 19 – 21, 2017, Nassal offered a Retreat for MHR. In 2010, Nassal, along with frequent collaborator Fr. David Matz, C.PP.S., offered a similar Retreat at the Missionaries of the Precious Blood Sonnino Mission House in Berkeley. The site was also the location where Nassal and Matz repeatedly hosted the dissident group Dignity for a “Day of Reflection.” Following the decisive 1986 “Letter To The Bishops Of The Catholic Church On The Pastoral Care Of Homosexual Persons,” the vast majority of US Bishops almost immediately expelled Dignity from Catholic parishes. Yet, Nassal and Matz continued their close association with the group.
In the August 2011 issue of “Communion: The Monthly Newsletter of Catholics for Marriage Equality in California,” a now defunct periodical published by Dignity San Francisco, the following letter from Nassal was reprinted; here is an excerpt:
From a spiritual/theological viewpoint, it all depends on where we begin. Do we begin with the belief that we are created flawed (original sin) or do we begin with the premise that we are made in the image and likeness of God? I believe it is the latter which is why DIGNITY is such a powerful and appropriate name. We are made in God’s image!
Dave Matz and I were able to attend the Dignity Mass on Sunday and it was a prayerful and spirit-filled liturgy. The priest gave a wonderful reflection on “the other” as “the beloved.”
Following the 2015 Obergefell decision, Dignity released the following statement:
DignityUSA, the organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Catholics, cheered today’s Supreme Court’s sweeping decision that strikes down state bans on same-sex marriage, and makes marriage equality the law of the land throughout the U.S.
Dignity called gay sexuality “the holy gift of God. The overwhelming majority of us are able to say we are both sexually active and comfortable in our relationship with Christ. Being sexually active enables us to be more at ease with ourselves, more fulfilled in our relationships, more productive in our work and service. The Spirit is evident in a warmer and more peaceful prayer life.”
In 2008, Matz participated in an “interfaith gathering in support of same-sex marriage.“
In 2013, Matz and the Missionaries sponsored a presentation to The Heart of America Men’s Chorus, a “gay” male choral from Kansas City; the theme was:
Homosexuality is one of God’s most significant gifts to humanity. To be gay or lesbian is to have received a special blessing from God. All humans receive their own special graces from their creator, but God has chosen some to be gay and lesbian as a way of revealing something about God-self that heterosexuals do not.
On October 11, 2013, The Missionaries of the Precious Blood celebrated National Coming Out Day.
David Matz also serves on the Board of Directors, having the title “Director-at-Large,” of the Berkeley-based dissident group the Catholic Association for Lesbian and Gay Ministry (CALGM.) CALGM operates within the Diocese of Oakland. In 2012, when Salvatore Cordileone served as the Bishop of Oakland, board members of CALGM, refused to sign an “oath of personal integrity” to Catholic teaching.
In June of 2014, the Missionaries hosted the Board of CALGM at Sonnino House.
In 2014, the Archdiocese of San Francisco, under Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, assigned two priests, Frs. Jack McClure and Matthew Link, from the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, to Most Holy Redeemer. The previous Pastor, Fr. Brian Costello, had requested a transfer although he just arrived at the Parish in 2012. Costello said: “It just didn’t work out. I did the best I could. My best was just not good enough for a lot of people here…There are real challenges here.” But, early on, McClure’s made his intentions well-known, when he stated: “We didn’t come here to change anybody.” In 2015, McClure was removed from MHR when he showed up at a women’s ordination conference.
In 2016, the Missionaries offered a “daylong workshop on LGBT issues” which included the participation of New Ways Ministry co-founder Sister Jeanine Gramick and their current Executive Director Francis DeBernardo. Nassal was the presider at the corresponding Mass. In 1999, after a lengthy Vatican investigation, the Holy See found that the positions advanced by Gramick were “doctrinally unacceptable” and she was “permanently prohibited from any pastoral work involving homosexual persons.”
In 2021, the Missionaries of the Precious Blood came-out in support of “gender-affirming” medical treatments and hormone therapy for minors. Fr. David Matz wrote:
“Many straight people have asked me what I, a gay priest, have in common with someone who is transgender. Like you, I can think back to the culture wars that have polarized our communities. Gay people know what’s it’s like to have their identity, dignity, and happiness pressed into a cultural and political weapon. Two examples: in our Church in the 1990s there was a debate about whether a gay man could be ordained a priest and most recently, a decree saying the Church cannot bless same-sex unions…The legislative bans related to transgender youth aren’t unfamiliar territory for us in the latest of the culture wars. Can we even comprehend what it is like to be born into a body that does not match our gender identity? Why are we creating laws to reject transgender people and deny their medical care? It’s exploitation and cruelty.”
Also in 2021, for the June edition of “The New Wine Press” – the official monthly magazine published by the Kansas City Province of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, they celebrated “Pride Month:”
“Pride in the month of June brings warranted attention from Precious Blood spirituality, especially the means in which people who have experienced being pushed aside have found a resilient spirit to hold in their bodies the words from Fr. Greg Boyle, S.J.: ‘You are exactly who God had in mind when God created you.’”