by Stephen Wynne • ChurchMilitant.com • October 23, 2018
Ensemble invited to perform at Jesuit university's St. Ignatius Church
SAN FRANCISCO (ChurchMilitant.com) - A choral group composed exclusively of gay men has been invited to commemorate its 40th anniversary inside one of the Bay Area's leading Catholic landmarks.
Unless San Francisco Abp. Salvatore Cordileone intervenes, in a first, the city's Gay Men's Chorus will perform Friday at the iconic St. Ignatius Church, located on the campus of the Jesuit-run University of San Francisco.
On Tuesday, Church Militant reached out to archdiocesan communications director Mike Brown to inquire whether Abp. Cordileone was aware of the event. Noting that the event was featured last week in the San Francisco Chronicle, he said he presumed the archbishop was aware of it.
When asked whether Abp. Cordileone planned to intervene, Brown replied, "I just don't know."
If the concert goes ahead, it will be the first time the ensemble has performed inside any of the city's Catholic churches, other than the "inclusive" Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in the city's gay epicenter, the Castro district.
It will also mark a milestone in the advance of the homosexual current in the Church over the past generation.
In April 1981, a concert at St. Ignatius featuring the Gay Men's Chorus was canceled by homosexualist Abp. John Quinn over fears it would be "misinterpreted" as a repudiation of Church teaching on active homosexuality.
"We were told in no uncertain terms that any chorus that has the word 'gay' in its name is not allowed to sing in any Catholic churches in the city," said Tim Seelig, artistic director of the Gay Men's Chorus. "It was always a thing since 1981."
But, 37 years later, much has changed.
Last spring, Seelig received a letter marked with St. Ignatius' return address. "I thought, 'Oh yeah, I can't wait to see what this is,'" he recounted.
To Seelig's surprise, the letter was an invitation by St. Ignatius pastor, Fr. Greg Bonfiglio, to perform inside the church.
Father Bonfiglio told the Chronicle he was unaware of the 1981 controversy when he issued the invitation.
"I didn't know what happened back in 1981 when we did this, so there's not a lot of virtue there, I suppose," he said.
"I think in a world that's just hyperpolarized right now, to build any kind of bridge with any group is a good thing," Bonfiglio said, borrowing a phrase by Jesuit Fr. James Martin. "I think people wouldn't necessarily see the Catholic Church and the LGBT community as being allies — it's not a natural alliance, I guess — so here's a possibility for building a bridge."
"This concert offers us an opportunity to repair the relationship after all these years," he added. "That's what the Christian community is all about."
But, Bonfiglio admitted, in organizing the event, planners failed to consult Abp. Cordileone.
Faithful San Francisco Catholics are wondering whether Cordileone — widely regarded as orthodox — will cancel the event, as his pro-gay predecessor did in 1981.
The Chronicle is betting against any intervention: "Thankfully, times change," it declared last week. "This time the concert, set for Friday, is almost sure to happen."