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Posts for January, 2009

SF Supervisor Introduces Resolution Condemning Church Vandalism

Jim Burroway

January 7th, 2009

Here’s something worth noting. San Francisco Supervisor Bevan Dufty introduced a resolution condeming the recent vandalism of the Most Holy Redeemer Church. You can read the text of the resolution here.  By the way, this is especially notable because Bevan Dufty is gay.

On Monday, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League issued a long and convoluted statement denouncing the vandalism, and blaming the gays for it despite a complete and total lack of evidence, adding this latest incident to a long laundry list of “attacks” — both exaggerated and imagined — against Catholicism. He also implied that the San Francisco City Board of Supervisors were partly responsible. Now that the Board is on record condemning the attack, I wonder if we’ll hear a mea maxima culpa from Donohue? Don’t bet on it.

[Hat tip: Joe My God, Towleroad]

Vandals Strike Pro-Gay Catholic Church

Jim Burroway

January 5th, 2009

The Most Holy Redeemer Church, located in the heart of San Francisco’s Castro district, was targeted by vandalsover the weekend, presumably over the Catholic Church’s support of Proposition 8. The parish church was spray painted with swastikas, the slogan “Prop H8,” and with the names “Ratzinger” (referring to Pope Benedict XVI) and San Francisco Archbishop Niederauer. San Francisco police are investigating the vandalism as a hate crime.

Impressively, the erudite vandals spelled Niederauer’s name correctly (a feat that I can’t accomplish without the old trusty cut-and-paste). Niederauer became an outspoken proponent of Prop 8 during the campaign, sending a pastoral letter to all churches in his diocese — including Holy Redeemer — calling on parishioners to vote for the proposal.

Holy Redeemer however is known in the Castro as being decidedly gay friendly despite the larger Church’s stance on homosexuality. Holy Redeemer bills itself as “your Catholic Church in the Castro,” and “an inclusive Catholic community,” welcoming everyone “regardless of their background, gender, gender identity, race, social status, or sexual orientation.” According to Rev. Donal Godfrey, some two-thirds of the Holy Redeemer parishioners are gay or lesbian. Many of them are married couples, and some of their children have been baptized in the church.

Holy Redeemer has had an active AIDS ministry since 1985, becoming one of the earliest Christian ministries to serve people with AIDS with compassion — a move that most Christian churches still have not embraced.  In 1986, the convent was converted into a hospice to care for people dying of AIDS-related illnesses. Contingents from Holy Redeemer also participate in community events like the Castro Street Fair and the annual Pride celebration.

Pastor Steve Meriweather told KCBS his parishioners actually share the vandals’ sentiment against Prop 8. “I think it’s unfortunate that they selected our community to attack,” said Meriweather, “because it’s the wrong one.”

But even if the vandal had picked “the right” target, this is still incredibly stupid. This episode will play perfectly into the hands of anti-gay activists. Those who successfully targeted gays and lesbians for constitutional discrimination will cry “discrimination!” and claim that this is yet another example of “persecution.” Which just goes to show that all hate crimes have one common thread: regardless of their particular grief, all hate crimes are committed by morons.

Update: Some anti-gay web sites are claiming that “gays” vandalized Holy Redeemer. In fact, we do not know who spray painted the graffiti on the church. It could have been opponents to Prop 8, or it could have been a prop 8 supporter trying to garner sympathy — and spelling Niederauer’s name correctly in the process. Who knows? We don’t, and unless police are able to shed more light on the subject, we won’t assume or speculate either way.