Father Richard Sparks is no stranger to American bishops. He is a frequent speaker in diocesan conferences on morality and education. He is also one of the principal advisors to the religious education text Growing in Love (Harcourt, 2000) which has been widely criticized for attempting to normalize homosexual lifestyles.
Sparks is also a favorite at Cardinal Mahony's Religious Education Congress in Anaheim. It was there in 2001 that the Paulist priest shocked even the generally latitudinarian assemblage of catechists when he said, speaking of the relationship between the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph:
[Warning: The following remarks are patently offensive and sacrilegious and therefore I have hidden the text. In order to read the remarks, the reader must highlight the text with the curser.]
The text begins here:
"But if somebody says, 'do you think Joseph ever wanted to jump her bones?' Do you think Joseph ever thought, 'God, why can't we consummate this thing? ... Now all I'm saying is -- even if they didn't have sex, did they ever neck? Or did they maybe cuddle and snuggle? Did he ever sort of fondle his wife? Did she ever kind of fondle him?" At the same conference, Sparks commented on the size of his genitals. "It's a little bigger than Mel Gibson's, but the bigger the better I say," he said.Now SAN FRANCISCO FAITH reports about the recent "Pride Mass" presided over by Sparks at Holy Spirit University Parish in Berkeley, where the priest serves as pastor. The "Pride Mass" is evidently a tradition at Holy Spirit which for 17 years has also had a LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgendered) support group. At this annual event, a man and a woman, both avowed homosexuals, gave "testimonies" during the Liturgy of the Word. Bartholomew James of SF Faith writes:
The woman, Catherine Cunningham, related the story of how she met her current same-sex partner at a retreat and how the relationship grew to its present state of contentment. One got the impression that the committed relationship was not celibate, which dove-tailed neatly with Sparks' own writings on the subject of homosexuality. Sparks asserts that theological support is growing for the qualified or full acceptance position, where "homosexual genital actions would be moral only within the context of a committed, monogamous, covenant relationship, akin to a childless marriage," according to his book, Contemporary Christian Morality. (See "Bless the Lord, for We Are Good," January 2003 Mission.)What is more, after the consecration of the Mass, Father Sparks announced that everyone was invited to receive communion ...
... even if they weren't Catholic. He said that Protestants, Buddhists, and anyone else was welcome to receive the sacrament. Most of those present accepted the invitation.For the full story, click HERE.
Holy Spirit University parish is under the jurisdiction of Bishop Allen Vigneron, bishop of Oakland. Ultimately, the Paulists are in the diocese at the behest of the ordinary. By all accounts, Vigneron is orthodox and one would think that he would be fuming about what is going on at Holy Spirit and with Father Sparks in particular. What would keep a good bishop from acting immediately and decisively about a matter so critical as this? One can only wonder.