San Francisco Archbishop Shuts Down Gay-Friendly Church Event, Calls It ‘Inappropriate For The Season Of Advent’

San Francisco Archbishop George Hugh Niederauer

The Archbishop of San Francisco has asked the pastor of a gay-friendly church in the Castro district to disinvite “a trio of gay-friendly clergy scheduled to speak at a series of pre-Christmas evening services,” arguing that the speakers were “inappropriate for the season of Advent,” the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Retired Rev. Roland Stringfellow, one of the cancelled speakers, was taken aback by the implication of the Archbishop’s decision:

“It’s ironic and hypocritical that the Catholic Church has a ‘Come home’ ad campaign going on right now,” he said. “Clearly, not everyone is welcome within the Catholic Church.”…What also bothered Stringfellow was the assumption that because he works with Berkeley’s Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry, he would give a rousing gay rights sermon that ignored the religious themes of the season of Advent. […]

“Most congregations invite speakers who can speak well to their community’s concerns,” he said. “We are all clergy within our own rites and denominations, and we were very disrespected by the idea that we can only give a talk that’s about gay rights.”

The issue of homosexuality is “a thorny one for the Catholic Church, which holds that while same-sex orientation is acceptable, gay or lesbian sexual activity is not.” Most practicing Catholics disagree with this interpretation. According to one recent survey, only 35 percent of Catholics oppose same-sex marriage and 16 percent of Catholics believe church leaders have “the final say” on homosexuality, down from 32 percent over the past 25 years.