Cardinal Theodore McCarrick (pictured above in a Franciscan habit with Provincial Minister John O’Connor of the Holy Name Province) after he was made an Affiliate of the Province in 2006; also, McCarrick celebrated mass at the Holy Name parish in Raleigh with O’Connor,)
The Church of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Francis of Assisi LGBT Ministry hosted a “Pre-Pride Festive Mass” on June 23, 2018 to coincide with the New York City “Pride” Parade on June 24. According to the Parish:
Identifying as LGBT+ and Catholic can sometimes be a challenge, however, we affirm you…We’re here for you in returning to celebrate life, love, and God. At St. Francis of Assisi, our unconditionally loving LGBT+ Ministry reassures you that we’re not the church that made you leave. Join us in celebrating our shared humanity and love.
The LGBT Ministry at St. Francis has a problematic history including:
- The “Drink Pray Love – Can I Be Queer & Catholic?” event which was held at the Stonewall Inn;
- A “Mardi Gras” party at a well-known gay bar;
- A “Cinco de Mayo” celebration at another notorious gay bar;
- “Pride” Masses to coincide with New York City Pride and LGBT retreats.
After the “Pride” Mass at St. Francis in 2017, the Parish hosted a BBQ celebration complete with a rainbow frosted cake, rainbow-colored tablecloths, and rainbow flags. On the Parish’s web-site are posted numerous pictures from the event.
In attendance were: the Pastor – Andrew Reitz, O.F.M., Parochial Vicar – Michael Carnevale, O.F.M., the contact person for the Parish’s LGBT Ministry – Meredith Dean Augustin, and Michael Delany – the Pastor at the Episcopal Cathedral of the Incarnation in New York City which has a long history of gay-marriage advocacy.
The Parish is staffed by the Franciscan Friars of Holy Name Province; their Provincial Office is located in New York City. The Friars also operate gay-affirmative ministries at St. Patrick – St. Anthony Church in Hartford, Connecticut, at the St. Anthony Shrine in Boston, and at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Raleigh. Recently, The LGBT Book Club at St. Patrick – St. Anthony Church promoted a book about “Discovering the Queer Christ.” One of the most high-profile Holy Name Friars is Daniel Horan. Following the 2015 Obergefell decision, Horan wrote:
My reaction has been solidarity for a population of people who have indeed been “afflicted” and whose experience for so long, millennia perhaps, has been more “grief and anxiety” than “joy and hope.” But today, at least in the United States, things appear to be changing…As a Christian, the “joys and hopes” of the LGBT women and men who have cried out for the recognition of their human dignity and value, these are the “joys and hopes” of me today.
Following his official 2006 “affiliation” with the Holy Name Province, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick maintained strong ties with the Province. In 2006, 2008, and 2011, Cardinal McCarrick was the main celebrant at Holy Name ordinations; in 2009, McCarrick “agreed to serve as an informal advisor to the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Directorate of Holy Name Province;” in 2013, McCarrick gave an address at the Holy Name parish in Raleigh entitled: “We Are All Equal in the Love of God;” in 2014, the Holy Name Province instituted the Cardinal McCarrick Award; past recipients include eco-activist Episcopal priest Fletcher Harper; in 2016, Harper spoke at the 25th anniversary of the Loretto Earth Network; officially silenced pro-gay dissident Loretto Sister Jeannine Gramick praised his address.
James Martin, S.J., who recently said to those with same-sex attraction – God made you this way, spoke at the St. Francis of Assisi in New York City on July, 13, 2017. In 2018, Martin had a “Skype talk” on the LGBT issue with the Holy Name parish in Raleigh. In 2018, Martin praised Holy Name Friar and iconographer Robert Lentz. The frequent subject of Lentz’s art are so-called “gay saints” including gay-rights leader Harvey Milk. According to the book “The Mayor of Castro Street” (1982) by Randy Shilts, Milk was molested by older men in the “standing sections” at the Metropolitan Opera: “Harvey [Milk] learned all the tricks and, by his own account, was leading an active homosexual life by the age of fourteen.” (Shilts, pg. 7) In 1963, when Milk was 33, he began a relationship with 16-year-old Jack McKinley. (Shilts, pg. 30)
In 2018, James Martin praised one of Lentz’s former students – Jesuit priest and iconographer William McNichols; Martin also lauded McNichols in 2017; the most controversial work from McNichols is probably a drawing from 1986 entitled “AIDS Crucifixion” which depicts Christ on the Cross wearing modern men’s underwear being mourned by His Mother, a young blonde-haired St. John, and Mary Magdalene in a low-cut sleeveless dress; above the body of Jesus reads a sign: “AIDS, homosexual, faggot, pervert, Sodomite.”
Several Friars of the Franciscans of the Holy Name Province have been accused of the sexual abuse of minors – all of the victims were boys and young men. Cases against Holy Name Friars in Arlington, Buffalo, (another in Buffalo,) and Boston, (also in Boston,) were all found credible and/or resulted in settlements.
Due to their dwindling numbers, in 2018 the Holy Name Province voted to unify with five other Franciscan Minor provinces in the US.