Commentary by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Priests at Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Little Italy, California, which is at the center of a heated controversy over a funeral service for an openly homosexual man, say the whole episode was misrepresented to the public by homosexual activists.
According to California Catholic Daily, an associate pastor at Our Lady of the Rosary parish told a congregation at mid-day Mass on Wednesday that the church was planning to hold a funeral Mass for John Sanfilippo, a homosexual man and owner of a local gay bar until they learned that he was living with a partner. The discovery was made when Sanfilippo’s partner, Brian Galvin, called the parish to discuss funeral arrangements. At that time, the priests of the parish determined that having a Mass would be inappropriate.
A parishioner who attended Wednesday’s Mass said associate pastor Fr. Louis M. Solcia told them that the parish was willing to provide a burial service but not a Mass because, as it turns out, in addition to living with a partner, Sanfilippo had not gone to Confession and was not a practicing Catholic.
Their decision to cancel the Mass but not the funeral service was distorted to the press when a homosexual activist named Nicole Murray Ramirez staged a protest and posted a letter on the church’s front door demanding that San Diego Bishop Robert Brom clarify diocesan policy on the issue of funeral rites for homosexuals.
The San Diego LGBT Weekly reported that Murray Ramirez was “a friend of the Sanfilippo family” who was trying to get the Mass moved to another Church and claimed it was cancelled when priests at Our Lady of the Rosary discovered that Sanfilippo was involved with a partner.
Shortly thereafter, the diocese appeared to reverse the parish’s decision when it said the funeral service could go on as planned when in reality, they were only confirming the parish’s decision to have a service without a Mass.
Parish sources told CCD that having a funeral for Mr. Sanfilippo was never at issue. “It was the Mass only, not the burial,” the source said.
Most of the people who commented on the story believed the church did the right thing but wondered why they did not have the courage to deny a funeral to the likes of Ted Kennedy who openly espoused and promoted positions that were contrary to Church teaching, such as abortion rights and same-sex marriage.
Dom Guillermo wrote: ” If John Sanfilippo had been a Kennedy, he would have gotten his funeral mass and more. The refusal to hold a funeral mass was correct, of course, but why were the same standards not applied to Ted Kennedy?”
Others, such as “Gabriel,” believe the church did the right thing. “The teaching of the Catholic Church is clear. . . . It is not the church who is denying this man the consolation of a sacramental end to his life on earth, it was the man himself who denied the church and Jesus, his friendship.”
“Buzz” put it more succinctly. “If you don’t want to be a Catholic there are many alternatives. If you want to be a Catholic, you live in accordance with the faith.”
This story is the perfect example of what’s ahead for Christians if same-sex marriage makes any more headway in this country. Even though there will be a litany of mostly toothless exemptions for religious institutions built into these laws to mollify the faithful, this kind of public smear campaign against religions whose teachings disagree with the gay agenda will only increase. Even more concerning is how the mainstream media aids and abets these unjust characterizations of the faithful as backward bigots. You’ll notice that the mainstream media devoted gallons of ink to this story this week but went out of their way to cover up the rampant depravity that took place during last weekend’s Gay Pride Parades.
If we can’t stop the activists from their bullying techniques, the least we can do is hold the media accountable, such as demanding that those news outlets that carried this story publish all the facts, not just those parts that support their political agenda.
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