St. Agnes Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of San Francisco promoted, in their weekly bulletins, an LGBT Retreat that will be headed by two members of a“gay” dissident group: Fr. Michael Zampelli, S.J., and Dr. Sheila Nelson; the same “retreat” was offered previously this year – see picture above.
Since 2010, Michael A. Zampelli, S.J., has served as the Rector of the Santa Clara Jesuit Community. He also teaches courses in history, literature, and criticism for the Department of Theatre and Dance at the Jesuit-run Santa Clara University. In 2006, Zampelli received an award from Dignity/San Francisco (SF). Part of the Dignity/SF “Mission Statement” read as follows: “We affirm and celebrate our sexuality and love as gifts from God.” Part of the Dignity/SF organization includes The Defenders of Dignity; according to the Dignity/SF web-site: “Defenders is a national leather/levi organization affiliated with Dignity/USA. Its membership consists of gay men and lesbian interested in integrating their leather sexuality with their spirituality.” Since the Vatican’s 1986 Letter to the Catholic Bishops on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, Dignity chapters have not been allowed to meet on Church property.
In 2012, Zampelli was the “Treasurer” at the dissident organization The Catholic Association for Lesbian and Gay Ministry (CALGM). In a 2012 “Reflection” for CALGM, Zampelli wrote:
“I pray that the rainbow that has become so important to us and our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, will be a sign of hope…I pray that the world and the church come to see in that rainbow something to love and cherish and respect.”
The current “Resource Director” for CALGM is Arthur Fitzmaurice. Highly critical of the Catholic Church’s teachings with regards to homosexuality, Fitzmaurice has repeatedly judged certain language in the Catechism as “gravely evil.”
Dr. Sheila Nelson describes herself as “a committed lesbian Catholic and…a sociologist who for the past four years has served on the board of the Catholic Association for Lesbian and Gay Ministry (CALGM).” In 2012, Nelson was listed a “Vice-President” of CALGM. During that same year, the members of the board of CALGM refused to sign an Oath of Personal Integrity in Belief and Practice Regarding the Teachings of the Catholic Church. In her 2014 essay “From Closet to Lampstand: A Pastoral Call for Visibility,” Nelson wrote:
“Official church documents use language that is foreign and often offensive to Catholics in the pews…”
“Unless we open the closet door and invite one another into the light, I fear that the beautiful light of Christ burning so brightly in our young people will be lost to us…The bullying and humiliation will likely persist, and the rash of teen suicides will likely continue.”
“Most of us who identify as gay or lesbian find this language demeaning and not at all descriptive of our reality. Until Catholic leaders and laity break the silence…and are able to listen respectfully, we will never even understand the extent to which we are speaking different languages…”
This sentiment is similar to one expressed by Mr. Fitzmaurice, when he castigated the US Bishops for their “hostile” response to the Supreme Court’s decision that legalized same-sex marriage; in 2015, he wrote:
“If the church hierarchy wants to witness the Spirit alive in LGBT people, it needs to listen to our stories of finding new life — and deeper relationship with God — as we strive to integrate our faith and sexuality. Until they all listen, they cannot hear the voice of God speaking through us, and their words will lack true respect, compassion and sensitivity.”
According to Nelson, Fr. Paul Check, from the Courage apostolate, declined to cooperate with herself and CALGM on a joint project; Nelson reproduced part of Check’s response in her essay:
Gregory Dale Schultz is the Director of Liturgy and Music at Santa Clara University. According to a web-site created by students at the University, Schultz is “openly a homosexual.”