Archbishop Neiderauer and The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence

Some kind of scandal in Catholic San Francisco last week (what else is new?) involving Archbishop Neiderauer and Most Holy Redeemer Parish, “a Christian Community in the Roman Catholic tradition” which “prides itself in being an inclusive Catholic community — embracing all people of good faith … regardless of their background, gender, race, social status or sexual orientation.”

Here’s a timeline, with credit to the excellent coverage and Thomas Peters (American Papist):

  • The head of the San Francisco Archdiocese, Archbishop Neiderauer, was caught on video dispensing communion to two cross-dressing “queer nuns” at a gay-friendly parish [video footage]. The “sisters” — “Sister Delta Goodhand” and “Sister Edith Myflesh” (note the mockery in the name itself) — belong to the organization Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence; a “leading edge order of Queer Nuns defining San Francisco Values since 1979.”
  • The Catholic blogosphere raises hell (justifiably so). Archbishop initially dismisses the criticisms in response to LifeSiteNews.com:

    “At Most Holy Redeemer Church Oct. 7, I noticed no protest, no demonstration, no disruption of the Sunday Eucharist,” said Archbishop Nierderauer. “The congregation was devout and the liturgy was celebrated with reverence. Toward the end of the Communion line two strangely dressed persons came to receive Communion. I did not see any mock religious garb. As I recall, one of them wore a large flowered hat or garland.”

    His accounting of events seem rather dubious and contrary to what occurred in the video.

  • Bishop issues public apology in Catholic San Francisco:

    After the event, I realized that they were members of this particular organization and that giving them Holy Communion had been a mistake.

    I apologize to the Catholics of the Archdiocese of San Francisco and to Catholics at large for doing so.

    The manner of dress and public comportment of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence is deeply offensive to women religious and to the witness of holiness and Christian service that women religious have offered to the Church and to the world for centuries. The citizens of San Francisco have ample reason to be grateful to women religious for their unfailing support of those most in need, and to be deeply offended when that service is belittled so outrageously and offensively.

    Someone who dresses in a mock religious habit to attend Mass does so to make a point. If people dress in a manner clearly intended to mock what we hold sacred, they place themselves in an objective situation in which it is not appropriate for them to receive Holy Communion, much less for a minister of the Church to give the Sacrament to them.

    Therefore I conclude that the presence of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence at the Mass on October 7th was intended as a provocative gesture. In that moment I failed to recognize it as such, and for that, as I have said, I must apologize.

  • On the same day that the Archbishop publishes his letter denouncing the religious mockery of “The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence,” the bulletin of Most Holy Redeemer Parish published an email from “Delta Goodhand,” one of the very same blasphemous “Sisters” videotaped receiving communion from Archbishop Niederauer:

    Just a quick note to recognize the wonderful Mass yesterday at your Church to welcome Archbishop Niederauer. Your entire congregation was so welcoming and it was great to be able to participate in the Mass. The service was absolutely beautiful and I know that I personally walked away very inspired by both the Archbishop’s message and the angelic voices of your choir ringing in my ears! […] You are a wonderfully inclusive Church!

    (LifeSiteNews reports that the letter was later removed from the online edition of the parish’s bulletin at the Archbishop’s insistence).

  • Catholic News Service — the publishing organ of the USCCB: The Pastor of Most Holy Redeemer Parish: Reaction to archbishop giving Communion to ‘nuns’ overblown:

    “It is most unfortunate this incident has clouded the fact the archbishop came to meet with his people and celebrate a beautiful and reverent Mass together — and that is what really happened,” said Father Stephen Meriwether, pastor of Most Holy Redeemer Parish.

    “This incident has been blown way out of proportion,” he told Catholic San Francisco, the archdiocesan newspaper. […]

    To David Differding, co-chair of the parish liturgy council and master of ceremonies at the Oct. 7 liturgy, the critics “can’t get over the fact that God created gay people. That’s my impression. They want to put up every roadblock they can.”

    Jesuit Father Donal Godfrey, one of the Mass concelebrants, said the way the two men were dressed was “disrespectful to religious sisters,” but he said he felt “it probably wasn’t their intention (to offend.) They knelt in all the right places. They stood in all the right places. Except for the way they were dressed, they weren’t doing anything disrespectful.” […]

    Asked about reaction he had received, Archbishop Niederauer expressed concern about the impact of Web logs, or blogs.

    “The blogosphere is a kind of dangerous, endless recess in a global schoolyard,” he said, “where the bullies with the biggest bullhorns can shout whatever they want.”

  • Wrapping up: The bishop on the “bullies” of the blogosphere, by Carl Olson (Ignatius Insight):

    The message, apparently: beware of those bullying bloggers, but don’t be overly concerned about homosexual activists, cross-dressing “sisters,” and pro-gay parishes that ignore and/or mock Church teaching while supporting “gay pride” parades filled with nudity and depravity. Forget the bullies, where are the teachers and schoolyard monitors?

Related:

Apologizing San Francisco Archbishop Has History of “mistakes” Related to Homosexuality, by John-Henry Westen. LifeSiteNews. Oct. 12, 2007.

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