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Friday, October 19, 2007



Excellent post. Thank you. And while many blogs/bloggers are over the top, many are also reasonable, sane, and vital centers where Catholic truth is set forth. For me, these have provided a lifeline in an era when clear teachig and straight talk can be hard to find.

Mark Brumley

Ironically, I agree with Archbishop Niederauer about the excesses of the blogs. I also recognize that the quote attributed to him probably came in response to a specific question and that he may have said a lot more that many of us would have found more ad rem than his quoted remarks.

Nevertheless, the thrust of Tom Peters' comments stand. Those of us who are concerned about the objective insult to the Blessed Sacrament and the scandalization of the recipients and others in attendance at the Mass are left wondering why such a clear word of criticism can be uttered and disseminated in the Archbishop's name about the abuses of the blogosphere but such muddled utterances about the goings on at Most Holy Redeemer get promulgated. The result suggests a sensitivity about the blogosphere and about criticism, and relatively less sensitivity about two transvestites being given the Holy Eucharist by the Archbishop of San Francisco. The problems of the blogosphere are clearly explained, but the problem of two transvestites receiving Holy Commununion from the Archbishop and then MHR parish's bulletin publishing a "thank you" note from one of the men are not clearly explained.

It is very good that the Archbishop clearly and forthrightly apologized for giving Holy Communion. He did not waffle on the fact that he was apologizing and that he made a mistake in not recognizing the mockery of men dressed up as caricatures of nuns. That's much better than many other public apologies we have gotten in recent years. Even so, it is not good that he mentions only his failure to notice that the transvestites wore mock religious habits, when it fact the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence made a mockery not only of women's religious--as bad as that is--but of the Eucharist and the Church's teaching regarding chastity.

Here are two things that serious Catholics should be able to expect as a result of this fiasco at MHR:

1. Bishops throughout the US will think better and harder about canon 915 and their obligations as, among other things, "gatekeepers" of the Eucharist (for they are this, whether they like it or not), and what the implications of that responsibility are for their dealings with those who are publicly at odds with the teaching of the Church and yet who seek to be identified as Catholics.

2. The Archbishop of San Francisco and his chief pastoral collaborators will scrutinize MHR parish and make whatever changes are necessary to ensure that the pastoral leadership of the parish fully and joyfully embraces the teaching of the Catholic Church, including the teaching of the Church regarding homosexuality and chastity.

We'll see what actually happens.

Mark Brumley

One more thing: We read about how terrible it was that this whole sad event was captured on video. If that had not occurred, we are told, this would not have been a problem since only the people in attendance would have known about it. What's more, the fact that it was recorded shows that critics were out to get the Archbishop, we hear.

Well, it is true that fewer people would likely have known about the incident had it not been video recorded. But that is not necessarily a good thing. More people knowing about it means more people understanding the assault on the Eucharist and the Catholic faith, and more people praying and acting to not allow this sort of thing to happen again. And it doesn't require a great deal of cynicism to suppose that the availablility of the video helped the Archbishop to see the importance of his apologizing for his mistake. Moreover, the national news cobverage may well help other bishops to think about how Holy Communion is distributed in their diocese.

Finally, I think it fair enough to suppose that if the Archbishop had done the right thing and denied Holy Communion to the two men dressed as caricatures of nuns, in high heels, lipstick, and white-face make up, that the video record would now be used to show how courageously and rightly the Archbishop had acted.

Robert Miller

Can anyone doubt, at this point, that the "right" thing for the Archbishop to do is to suppress MHR "parish"?


I think taking a swipe at those who exposed the embarrasing incident somewhat diminishes the sincerity of the apology. It's not a stretch to believe the Archbishop was sorry only because he got caught - and that is the saddest part of the whole affair.

It's also sad to compare the video from MHR with that of Bishop Tod Brown refusing Communion to a woman for showing too much respect to the Eucharist.

The Gospel for today hits this right on the mark: "There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed." The last thing a Bishop should worry about is someone airing video from a Mass on the internet. Nothing should take place there that he might be ashamed of if the whole world were watching.

Jeff Grace

Actually, the issue of the videotaping is most odd. Who taped it... the "sisters?" Friends of the "sisters?" It seems odd that someone "happened" to videotape an incident set up to embarrass our archbishop. And it's a damned shame that some Catholics see it as honorable to comply with and aide in the ambush of their archbishop. Or maybe whomever videotaped it wasn't Catholic?


People videotape because no one ever admitted to this stuff in the past.

If I wrote a letter to a Bishop saying Fr. John Doe was riffing on the Eucharistic prayer (using cookies, ad libbing, talking to his barking dog, etc.) it may be months before I get a response saying the matter "will be looked into". Depending on your Bishop, that's pretty much a dismissal.

Have video proof of Father saying an invalid mass and you're more likely to get a response. Transparency is a very good thing! Didn't the Bishops agree with that a while back?

John Herreid

Hm. Jeff, do you think perhaps there wasn't a malicious intent in videotaping the Mass?

Jeff Grace

So, Caine... you have no problem with aiding and abetting groups like the "sisters" of perpetual indulgence in ambushing an archbishop in order to create a confrontation meant to ridicule and embarrass the Church?

Jeff Grace

I don't know, John. I guess whomever videotaped it would have to tell why they did it... and then one could determine if that seems malicious, or not.

John Herreid

I guess whomever videotaped it would have to tell why they did it... and then one could determine if that seems malicious, or not.

So otherwise, you're content to construe it in a malicious way.


Mark Brumley

Finally, I think it fair enough to suppose that if the Archbishop had done the right thing and denied Holy Communion to the two men dressed as caricatures of nuns, in high heels, lipstick, and white-face make up, that the video record would now be used to show how courageously and rightly the Archbishop had acted.

One correction: "could now be used". The Church's enemies would not use it that way. They would characterize it negatively, had the Archbishop denied Holy Communion, just as they think it's great that he gave the Sisters the Eucharist. But those who now criticize him for not having denied Holy Communion to transvestites in mock nun attire and heels, etc., certainly would now be praising the Archbishop as courageous. It was his action that has determined the character of the video, not the sheer fact that he was recorded. If the Archbishop had done the right thing on video, would the recording of it have been "an ambush"? Maybe for those who would use his denial of Holy Communion to two men dressed in mock nun attire with white face, heels, and lipstick to criticize the Church. But certainly not by those who see such an action as an obligation of the minister of Holy Communion.

What's more, everyone should remember that this was a public event, with lots of people taking pictures, including pictures later posted on MHR's website. If clergy don't want problematic things they do in public recorded, the simple solution is not to do them. And if a clergyman does something wrong in public, he should acknowledge it and apologize for it, as the Archbishop has done.

It was, therefore, what the Archbishop did in public, or what he failed to do, not the fact that this public event was recorded, that is the problem. His apology, as good as it is, would probably have silenced and even impressed most of his orthodox critics, had it addressed all the relevant issues, rather than focusing only on the insult to women religious. And of course his orthodox Catholic critics would now be singing his praises had he done the right thing--which he now acknowledges would have been the right thing--by denying the transvestites Holy Communion.

By the way, almost all of the coverage of this event I have seen on Fox News has focused on the wrongdoing of the Sisters, not the Archbishop. True, he and other Catholic leaders were eventually criticized by Bill O'Reily for not standing up to the Sisters. But the focus at Fox News has been on the Sisters and their offense.

Yes, there are Catholics who criticize aspects of the Archbishop's apology because, as I say, they think it misses some important points by focusing on the offense against women religious, rather than on the profanation of the Eucharist or the scandal given--in the theological sense, not the media frenzy sense. And there are Catholics who are uncharitable and any number of other wrong things. Let's all condemn that, ok? Let's try to avoid becoming them, ok? Including becoming them through uncharitable characterizations of others who aren't them, ok?

Jeff Grace

John said: "So otherwise, you're content to construe it in a malicious way."

Lets' see.... a bunch of thugs decide to embarrass the archbishop and someone decides it's a good idea to record it... and then post it on a website and on Youtube... hmmm.... I guess they could really have meant no harm.... yeah, that could happen.

John Herreid

Like I said before, Jeff... I really don't get you on this. It's like blaming the Boston Globe for the priest scandal.


"It's also sad to compare the video from MHR with that of Bishop Tod Brown refusing Communion to a woman for showing too much respect to the Eucharist."

Wow. I had not thought of the parallel. You can be a transvestite and receive communion, but not someone who wants to bow. UNbelievable.

Jeff Grace

Not quite, John. The BG simply reported on what had happened. That's not anywhere near the same as an archbishop being assaulted in an effort to embarrass him and someone recording it rather conveniently. Judging from the website it first appeared on, some might wonder if this was a "strange bedfellow" deal with the "sisters". Why? Because it sure helped them accomplish what they intended.

Look, no one disagrees over the fact that, given the "message" of these "sisters", they should not be recieving communion, period. What has raised my hackles on this is quite simply the mean and bitter spirit I've seen emerge as people circle the archbishop and accuse him of violating canon law... even after he has said he didn't realize who these people were when he gave them communion. Should he have anyway given the strange way they were dressed? You can make a good argument that he shouldn't have, but again... he did hesitate and start to give a blessing, but then some words were exchanged. Whatever was said, this seemed to have been enough for the archbishop to change his mind and allow them to receive. I think the best way to look at this is to assume he knew what he was doing and let it go at that, since he has apologized after finding out who these folks were.

I just don't see any good coming from a concerted effort to aide and abet the humiliation of our archbishop. If you have other issues with him, then deal with those honorably... stop taking this shameful assault on the Church as an oppotunity to chase our archbishop into a corner where you can kick the stuffing out of him.


Jeff, There are a few things I think you're missing:

(1) The intemperate comments are not necessarily the result of a "mean and bitter spirit". More likely, the people making those comments feel deeply outraged and powerless to correct the many abuses in the church.
(2) It makes sense to be wary of any attempt to divert attention away from the real issues toward videotapers and bloggers.
(3) The notion of a "strange bedfellow" deal between the videotaper and the two men is gross speculation.

Mark Brumley

Let's try to eliminate hyperbole, intemperate accusations and tendentious characterizations of people's actions. These things aren't helping.


Jeff, This is the website that is displayed in red letters in the video. Take a look and see what you find there: Note that it asks for videos, tapes, etc. as proof of abuses only after other efforts to address the abuses have been exhausted.


The abp did not question the second transvestite. Has anything been done about the priest who kissed a male who attended the Mass on the mouth?

Spirit of Vatican II

But bloggers are bullies, aren't they? And "men dressed as women" are a favorite target of bullies.

Ed Peters

MB, JH: Right.
Jeff: I don't think replies to JG on this matter are serving any constructive purpose.
RMiller: One does not suppress a parish for the sins of its pastor. The people in the territory need to be in a parish of some designation by canon law. Address the pastoral problem, not the parochial symptoms of the problem.


To be clear and protect the flock from error, the Archbishop of SF should publically denounce immoral lifestyles as 'on road to hell.' 'Hell' and 'fear of the lord' is missing from the lexicon of Catholic teaching in SFAD and (USF pc police). Belief in hell is not pc and therefore cannot be uttered in public.


It seems to be an unlikely "conspiracy theory" to believe that the videotaper was working with the Sisters. It seems more likely that the videotaper was an orthodox catholic that wanted to document what he/she considered an abuse (the visit of the Archbishop was known ahead of time and it was reasonable to assume some in the Activist community would take advantage of his presence).

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