Letters to the Editor
MHR is once again the whipping boy
Once again, Most Holy Redeemer is punished for being the perceived leader of social change in the Catholic Church ["Drag is out at Holy Redeemer," August 9]. Is it truly the soldier at the front of the "inclusive community" line? Conservatives near and far pick on MHR, but what about the other LGBTQ-friendly Catholic parishes in S.F. (St. Dominic's, St. Agnes and John of God's, for example)? Not to mention the others sprinkled across the USA: in Minneapolis, Tucson, Fort Lauderdale, and Rochester. They work toward change at a community level, in plain sight, and apparently under the media radar.
Then there are the LGBTQs who vent their anger with Rome by attacking MHR. Recall the Nazi graffiti in 2009 and the drag Sisters' communion stunt in 2007. Wouldn't it have been a braver move to make such statements at a known conservative parish, or better yet, at the Apostolic Palace, the pope's residence? And to those of us who will be leaving the church due to these recent challenges, I have to ask: Where have you been for the past 1,600 years?
An oasis in the Castro
It's unfortunate that Most Holy Redeemer was forced by the San Francisco Archdiocese to cancel the Castro Country Club's use of its hall for a fundraiser. But, it's far worse and more hurtful for [B.A.R. society columnist] Donna Sachet to want to "get that bigoted church out of the Castro" and others to call it a hate group as some did in the online comments to the story.
Despite MHR's being a part of the neighborhood for over 100 years, it shouldn't really take too much effort for even Sachet to recall the service the parish has done for the Castro community. Sachet should be able to remember back to the early 1980s (I certainly can) when friends were dying almost daily. MHR sometimes hosted five funerals a week. To this day, a scroll with the names of parishioners who died from AIDS inscribed on it resides in the church. It was about that time that a group of MHR parishioners and others got together to raise funds to open Coming Home Hospice, the first AIDS hospice in the country, which is housed in MHR's former convent. At a time when many were afraid to touch people with AIDS, MHR priests ran over to the hospice to administer last rites at all times of the night and day. The Castro Country Club itself would not likely exist if our deceased Father Joe Healy hadn't been one of the founders. The MHR AIDS support group has a long and distinguished history of providing practical and emotional support to thousands of people suffering and living with AIDS. The parish hosts more 12-step meetings than any location in the area, attended mostly by LGBTQs. Fundraisers were held at MHR to help establish and found the Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center. For the past 11 years, MHR has provided a weekly meal with dignity and respect to 100, including many LGBT youth, of our homeless and needy friends. In addition to the meal, medical help, clothing distribution, haircuts, and podiatry care are provided, and there is a monthly movie night.
Some may not like or feel a need for organized religion, but others do. MHR has become an oasis in the Castro for those of us who want to practice the faith of our ancestors, even if we do have many difficulties with the church at large. For us, "church" is what we create with each other as we come to worship and celebrate our sacraments. MHR has always been a welcoming community, predominantly gay since the 1980s, but as the neighborhood changes so does the congregation. There are straight and gay couples and families with children, singles, transsexuals, people in drag, and people of all races and colors.
There's far more hate directed toward MHR than you'll ever find emanating from it.
Call in Human Rights Commission
I was surprised that in the lengthy article about Most Holy Redeemer parish refusing to allow the Castro Country Club to use its parish hall for an event that there is no mention of the fact that such discrimination is illegal. When the parish chooses to rent its parish hall (for non-religious events), it cannot discriminate on the basis of gender identity or manner of dress. Where is the Human Rights Commission in this?
Freedom of religion allows the church to control its worship service and its doctrine, but when it becomes an entity that rents out its premises, it cannot hide behind its religion. The archbishop can decide who receives communion, and I do realize that it is embarrassing that he can't tell a real nun from an obviously fake one. Is he afraid he can't tell the difference between a "real" woman and a man in a costume? And does it really make a difference when it is a party in the parish hall?
Oh, silly me. This is San Francisco, and I am expressing my midwestern values of fairness. Sorry.
MHR's decisive moment
Just for the record: until they publicly repent for their attack on the LGBT and recovery communities, I will not be attending anything at Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, no matter for whom, which organization, whatever fellowship, or what event it may be. If I need to show up for a memorial, I will find another way. The latest affront to fundraising drag performers is, for me, the last nail in the coffin for a parish that keeps trying to say it preaches God's all-inclusive love, but keeps making glaring exceptions so as to placate a misogynist, heterosexist, fascist hierarchy. Father Brian Costello's smug arrogance is just symptomatic; when the Vatican appointed Salvatore Cordileone as San Francisco's new archbishop, it was meant to be a hostile shot across the bow.
For myself, I hope to do all I can to make every moment Archbishop Cordileone spends in San Francisco as miserable as possible; that money-changer should be driven from the temple with a whip. If MHR really wants to serve its own community, it stands at a decisive moment. They will have to decide if they stand with Pope Benedict or with Jesus; they cannot do both.
Reverend Luke Adams
Bigoted policy is unacceptable
I hope that every person of conscience within Most Holy Redeemer parish (and throughout the archdiocese of San Francisco and every archdiocese in this country) will express his/her outrage at this bigoted policy by refusing to attend services and give any money to the church until it's revoked. Kudos to the Castro Country Club for moving their event to another venue. Hopefully, other groups will do the same. Discrimination against drag queens is unacceptable everywhere, but especially within our own neighborhood.
Tommi Avicolli Mecca
Circumcision and HIV prevention
I'm sure Ernest Hopkins is sincere in promoting the multifaceted response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic put forth at the recent convention in Washington ["Reversing AIDS' lethal trends," Guest Opinion, August 2]. He is barking up the wrong tree, however, when it comes to promoting male circumcision as a legitimate approach. This year the Brazilian model of HIV prevention and eradication was internationally acknowledged to be the most effective program in fighting AIDS. Brazil and Thailand have both achieved superior outcomes in reducing HIV transmission without resorting to "voluntary" male circumcision.
At the recent AIDS conference Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rightly promised more funding to eradicate this worldwide plague. Unfortunately, a large portion of this funding is being directed to male circumcision, ostensibly in Africa. The millions of dollars spent by the U.S. government, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and others have been a tremendous and harmful waste of resources that should be focused on programs that work – condoms, antiviral medication, and education. Men in Africa were not given informed consent and were therefore left thinking that they could avoid using condoms consistently under the false promise of protection from circumcision.
The U.S. has the highest rate of HIV in the industrialized world and also the highest number of circumcised adult males. Indeed, on a population level, circumcision has not been found to be an effective measure and may be associated with an increase in HIV risk.
Here is a link to a well-referenced, in-depth look at the flawed U.S. intervention in Africa, published in the Journal of Public Health in Africa.
Lloyd Schofield, Proponent
San Francisco Male Genital Mutilation Initiative
Merchants should follow prez, lower flag
On August 8, Mayor Edwin M. Lee issued the following statement in the wake of the tragic shooting at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek, Wisconsin: "San Francisco grieves with those affected by the Sikh Temple shooting in Wisconsin. Now, more than ever, we must work together to reduce gun violence, embrace diversity and keep our communities safe. As a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence perpetrated on August 5, 2012, in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, Mayor Lee, in accordance with President Barack Obama's presidential proclamation, orders that flags on all city grounds and buildings be flown at half-staff until sunset, August 10, 2012."
I am very disappointed by the fact that the rainbow flag in the Castro remained at full staff while others were lowered in honor of the people killed at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin. I think it reflects badly on the gay community that while other flags on city and county property showed the proper respect requested by Obama in his presidential proclamation and ordered by Mayor Lee, the rainbow flag flew at full staff in defiance of that request. We, the gay community, demand respect and support from other communities when violence strikes us. How can we not show respect and support with other communities when the violence strikes them?
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