Sep 10, 2006

At St. Victor, "accepting them as they are"

Today's L.A. Times reports (click on this post's title) on yesterday's centennial Mass at St. Victor Parish in West Hollywood.

In case you do not know about St. Victor Parish, here is the first entry that turned up in a Web search on "St. Victor" and "West Hollywood" (I've put brackets around the entry):

[St. Victor's Catholic Church
Urban community of faith that welcomes all, regardless of race, nationality, gender, or sexual orientation.
Category: California > West Hollywood > Catholic]

Now you know. Here are excerpts from the Times report on the 100th anniversary Mass:

"On Saturday, with the church's choir and massive pipe organ in full voice, the narrative of St. Victor's was given thunderous celebration at a centenary Mass presided over by Cardinal Roger Mahony, who said the church has had a 'wonderful 100-year span.' In his sermon, he spoke of the importance of the broader church to be inclusive to all people.

"The present-day uniqueness of St. Victor's, said Msgr. Jeremiah Murphy, who is 69 and has been pastor at the church since 2000, is traceable in part to the congregation's sizable contingent of entertainment industry hopefuls and gays....

"Beginning with [former and now emeritus pastor Msgr. George] Parnassus' tenure, the parish long has been welcoming to gays.

"Catholic doctrine forbidding gay marriage and Pope Benedict XVI's declaration that men with 'deep-seated' homosexual tendencies should not be allowed to enroll in seminaries have fed the widespread perception that the church and gays are adversaries. The perception, Murphy said, is a false one.

"'I find the gay community takes religion seriously and are very faithful to religious exercise — saying the rosary, doing meditation, going to church,' he said. 'That may be the reason they're hurt more when the church is portrayed as against them.'

"Sexual orientation is irrelevant to religious belief, said church member John Aiello, a 46-year-old former casting director. Aiello is chairman of the church's finance committee and life partner of 52-year-old Bryan Smith, a lawyer and recent Catholic convert who sings bass in the choir.

"'Our faith is our faith,' he said. 'It's spiritual. It's not political. It's not an orientation thing.'

"Gay church members include those who have committed themselves to chastity — a requirement for receiving the Eucharist — as well as those who are [homo]sexually active.

"'We try to shepherd them toward the ideal,' Murphy said, 'but we also accept them as they are and honor their contributions to the church and to society.'

"St. Victor's also has fostered candidates for the priesthood. One of four newly ordained priests from Los Angeles County is from St. Victor's, with six other parish men in various stages along the route to priesthood."

So the parish finance committee chairman is the "life partner" of another man.

It would be nice, to say the least, if the Cardinal and the pastor would clarify in unmistakable terms for the public that "inclusive to all people" and "we also accept them as they are" must never include giving absolution in Confession, and giving Communion, to anyone who commits homosexual sins without repentance, Confession, penance and a firm purpose of amendment.

It would also be nice if the Cardinal and the pastor would clarify in unmistakable terms that anyone with "deep-seated tendencies" may not be admitted to the seminary or Holy Orders.


Anonymous Mark Montero said...

Ah yes. I go to St. Victor's for their adoration and Mass on various occasions. The priest there is solid and is a friend of Opus Dei. They have daily adoration (and confession is said during adoration). They still retain the communion rails and only use the communion rails for Holy Communion; they have a Gregorian Chant/Latin Novus Ordo Mass on Sunday Vigil; and I know many holy and devout people there (I do not know if they are gay). Nevertheless, the community there is orthodox. It bewilders me why the parish prides itself as accepting of homosexuals, but let's not forget where the parish is located in - right smack down in the middle of West Hollywood, the "gay hub of L.A." This might have to do something with the way the Church has responded to the needs of the community. However, never once had I heard from the monsignor that committing homosexual acts is OK. Let us continue to pray for the parish and for L.A.

3:19 PM  
Anonymous Xochilt said...

I have also heard good things about St. Victor's. They have reverent, more, shall we say, traditional Masses. The pastor emeritus is an excellent homilist.

I don't know about the parish finance director living with his life partner. If that is true, that is truly disturbing.

3:48 PM  
Anonymous Maria said...


It would interesting to do a survey about where in LA one can find the Mass celebrated with the greatest reverence and fidelity to the norms.

3:49 PM  
Anonymous DAve said...

It's no surprise that, refusing to obey God on such a huge point, the West Hollywood congregation would desire to appear fastidious and the image of piety in all other regards. That's why it's so common to see the extraordinarily promiscuous/ porn stars with huge crucifixes around their necks.

10:57 PM  
Anonymous Kenneth Fisher, Founder & Chrm. CRCOA said...

Can't you see the "cat and mouse game going on here"?

They believe that if they act "traditional", we will ignore there sodomite life styles.

Judging by the remarks here, they may be right!

Kenneth M. Fisher

10:59 PM  
Blogger skeetor said...

Being attracted to someone of the same sex is not a sin. Calling yourself "homosexual" if you find that you are attracted to members of the same sex, also, is not a sin. Acting upon these inordered desires is a sin.
I think this parish is doing a good thing in reaching out to those who identify themselves as homosexual. If they do not teach that being so is "ok" and that acting out the urges is "just natural" then I don't see much of a problem.
What I do see as a problem is the big gray area they are setting up by not being very forward about the churches teaching on the matter. It might leave a few of these sodomites with the wrong idea, which is the greater sin.

4:56 AM  
Blogger JohnPaulFootball said...

Msgr. Murphy is doctrinally rigid, and the liturgy there is as traditional as the novus ordo can be. Although, I don't attend mass there every week....I do fairly regularly, and have heard Msgr. Murphy issue rebukes to homosexuality in his homilies. I have no idea if the new priest fostered at St. Victor's has gay tendencies or not, or if the people who attend mass there are worthy to receive communion or we know, who can know the state of one's soul....right? I'm not quite sure what else Msgr. Murphy can do........should he distribute pitchforks and torches to the rightminded townfolk to teach the homosexuals a lesson?
Would that be nice?'ve made some good points, but I know from experience that Msgr. Murphy doesn't hide the churches' teachings on sexuality or any other issue.

12:31 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

John Paul Football:
Amen. My experiences St Victor's were similar -- the priest there know exactly to whom they're preaching to, and never stop proclaiming 100% orthodoxy week in and week out. They're neither "gay friendly" nor "kick out the sodomites" in their approach.

Kinda like, uh, Benedict XVI.

Which is probably why it's a vibrant, impressive parish. St. Victor's has nobly avoided a pendulum swing toward either extreme. I got the sense that the parishioners (everyone) feels welcomed "as they are" but also challenged to embrace ALL aspects of the Faith.

12:43 PM  
Blogger JohnPaulFootball said...

Patrick...thanks for your response to my post, obviously we agree. Your point about accepting people as they are, but challenging them to embrace all aspects of the faith is an important one, and one that is obviously not lost on Msgr. Murphy.

1:06 PM  
Blogger Quintero said...

Dear Mark, John Paul Football and Patrick,

Thank you for the input about St. Victor Parish and about Msgr. Murphy proclaiming orthodoxy and all of the Faith and warning against homosexual sins.

Those are eactly the kinds of "unmistakable terms" that I called for in my post.

3:45 PM  
Blogger Quintero said...

Dear Skeetor,

Yes, it is so important for our shepherds to be forward with people about right and wrong.

It would also be good for a parish such as St. Victor to refer people to the Courage group and to help them try to change through reparative therapy.

3:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! The reading today was takien from Cor 1 Chapter 5.

4:10 PM  
Blogger Quintero said...

Dear Dave and Kenneth,

Maybe it is not as bad as all that, judging by some of the comments here about the pastor being forthright about Catholic truth.

But it would be good if the parish also helped people try to change by referring them for reparative therapy, and if the parish allowed a Courage group to form. That would be a definitive test.

I think it is still the case, though, that the Archdiocese has not let Courage operate in L.A.

5:11 PM  
Blogger Quintero said...

Dear Maria,

That is a good idea, and I will think about how to go about it. thanks very much.

5:13 PM  
Blogger Gorbachenko said...

Something tells me the seven Vocations St. Victor's can boast of has more to do with the parish's 'orthodoxy' than its 'inclusivity.'

7:12 PM  
Blogger bobnd said...

I have never been there, so I cannot judge one way or another. I was taught to hate the sin and love the sinner. But our Lord never spoke about homosexuality as we see it. St. Paul never spoke of it either, but they both speak of celibacy. I cannot remember the scripture verse, but Euonchs are to be placed higher than brother or sister. Also some are euonchs by choice, others by chance and some for the kingdom of God. So gays are called to serve in religious life if they are celibate and faithful. I had a priest friend who was a vulnerable fellow and he was raped at the seminary, and while he was pastor of a rural north central Mn parish. He never initiated the contact, but was accused and convicted which is sad.

4:39 AM  
Blogger barriogirl said...

Hey they were good on signature gathering for Prop 73 and Prop 85

10:10 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

"But our Lord never spoke about homosexuality as we see it. St. Paul never spoke of it either, but they both speak of celibacy."

So much for Sacred Tradition. And even for that heresy sola scriptura. Now it is just sola st. paul.

10:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As to the comment posted:

"But our Lord never spoke about homosexuality as we see it. St. Paul never spoke of it either, but they both speak of celibacy."

Read the

First letter of St Paul to Corinthians:

"Or do you not know that the unjust will not possess the kingdom of God? Do not err; neither fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor the effeminate, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor the evil-tongued, nor the greedy will possess the kingdom of God."

I know it is hard for those attached to the sin of homosexuality to accept this Truth. Especially in a earthly culture which disguises this sin as 'love' and 'tolerance'.

This is why the Holy Catholic Church must be crystal clear on the Truth and help these individuals to save their souls from this horrible attachment to a mortal sin. Whether this help is being given at St. Victor's, I cannot say. But I find it troublesome that in the newspaper article they mention that homosexuals are serving as Eucharistic ministers.

If you are celibate and have denouced the 'gay' lifestyle as harmful to your eternal soul why continue to identify yourself with this sin and describe yourself as homosexual?

Do adulterers who have repented and confessed and amended their lives go around for the rest of their days saying, I am an adulterer?

No, a healed person realises that Jesus has forgiven the sin and the sin is no longer who this person is, but that they are a new person in Christ Jesus.

11:59 AM  
Blogger Quintero said...

Dear Barriogirl,

Thank you for the news about St. Victor Parish being good on gathering signatures to get Prop 73 and now Prop 85 on the ballot.

Sure hope every Californian who visits "L.A. Catholic" is helping Prop 85 or will get busy doing so!

3:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To add to the discussion (hopefully, not to add confusion) Scripture speaks of Sodomites (those who commit Sodomy) in a slightly different sense than the modern (mis)understanding of homosexuals. The Ancients had no firm concept of "orientation." This can be confirmed by the fact that many (perverse) Greek males engaged in (perverse) approximations of sex with boys, while still also having (geniune) sex with their wives. "Orientation" as many now (mis)understand it was meaningless.

Then along come the Jews and the Christians and many of the old pagans saying "No, sexual contact with someone of the same sex is wrong." But they would NOT have had the thought that some people have an innate attraction to someone of the same sex. They all (pro-Sodomite and anti-Sodomite alike) understood it in an entirely different light than that. Sodomy was not something that one would choose over (real, male/female) sex. It was something that certain (perverted) individuals did without regard to anything so nebulous as the modern concept of "orientation."

At least that is the way I understand the history of all of this.

The bottom line, of course, is that Sodomy is against Nature and against God's Revealed Law. Jesus made it clear that this also applies to conscious, willful thoughts and fantasies as well. Temptations to engage in such fantasies and actions would not fall into such a catagory, but to willingly entertain such temptations would. So a person with such temptations (or any sexual temptations of any kind) has a cross but does not sin if he does not give in to the point where those temptations become willingly engaged in fantasies.

Sorry for the long post, Q.


3:22 PM  
Blogger Quintero said...

Dear BobND,

Very sorry to hear about your friend. Hope that things are somehow better for him nowadays.

Incidentally, the "Our Lord never mentioned it" argument does not fly, if you ask me. Remember that Jesus did warn everyone against lustful desires and actions.

And it was St. Paul who wrote Romans, including Romans I: 24-32, which does mention homosexual sins.

St. Paul also wrote I Corinthians, which commenter Anonymous 11:59 a.m. quotes here.

3:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Today's First Reading from the Mass, according to even the new lectionary (with all its faults), says plainly:

"BOY PROSTITUES" and "SODOMITES" will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

Not very PC of St. Paul.

4:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why stop about the greedy, thieves, drunkards and slanderers?

4:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 4:29: You'd be right to point that out, except for the fact that it's hardly socially acceptable (or admirable, in the eyes of some) to be greedy, drunk, slanderous thief. Unless you're a politician.


5:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jehu: It is perfectly acceptable in our society, or I should say by it's standards-to be greedy, drunk, slanderous or a thief(or combinations thereof) so long as it's dressed in it's proper costume, whether or not you are a politician. Look at TV programming and it's ads, or billboards(malt liquor in ethnic neighborhoods), pop music etc.,or look at the havoc wreaked by real estate developers when they gentrify neighborhoods (pocket huge sums, and displace families in one swoop). You could go on and on, if people were willing to hold everything to the same standard.

7:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon: What is your point?

9:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 7:38: Yes, what is your point?

My point was that everyone agrees (in theory) that one shouldn't slander, shouldn't steal, shouldn't be a drunk (this last one to a lesser extent). It's not that people don't try to justify such things in particular instances; they just agree that, in general, it's not good to engage in them.

Not so, the sin of Sodomy. Many are they who claim that there is nothing at all wrong with "two consenting adults" ramming ... well, I'll leave the image to you. In fact, many claim that this is an expression of love to do such things.

But it is not so.

10:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That last one was mine.


10:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jehu: Got it. It's just that today's readings mention a number of sins, sodomy being one of them. You can find any number of people who would feel as if there was nothing wrong with being greedy or drunk using the same criteria you apply to sodomy. It seems a bit narrow to focus only on sodomy, if we are trying to "embrace all aspects of the faith" as a couple other commenters put it. I meant no offense to you by my comment and certainly wasn't trying to provoke you into a pissing contest like the one you engaged in with "Father G" last week, thank you though for leaving me with the image of "two adults ramming".


12:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave: Fr. G and I had a healthy, constructive, respectful debate. That's what I'm trying to have with you (and I think we're succeeding, right?). Perhaps you're confusing me with another anonymous with whom fr. g also had me confused. Meh, it's easy to confuse who is saying what in this forum.

MY point is that the reason this gets brought up is that it's something very different than the values espoused by the world. (Forget, for a moment, what the world actually DOES; and let's talk about what it SAYS.) It's a simple fact that the world espouses the belief that lying is wrong. Not so with Sodomy.

Also, St. Paul warns us to be on special guard against sexual temptation and sin since, as he says "18 Avoid immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the immoral person sins against his own body.
19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?
20 For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body."

Also, Our Lady of Fatima warns that more souls are damned due to sexual immorality than any other sin. And yeah, that applies to heterosexual immorality too, but that ain't what Quintero is talking about in this post.

As to the mental image, sorry 'bout that. Part of me regrets that. The other part of me wanted people to face up to what activities you were equating with drunkenness. It's easier for people to justify Sodomy if they don't have a solid picture in their heads of exactly WHAT it is. Not to say that YOU were justifying it, BUT your line of thought is often used to do just that.

Never forget that Sodomy is one of only four sins that the Church says "cry to Heaven for vengeance." (And before I get accused of gay bashing, let me just say this: God avenges. I'm just trying to make sure that as few people as possible bring down His vengeance upon themselves.) Out of the four (murder, oppressing widows and orphans, and cheating people of their earnings being the others), Sodomy is the only one that is "acceptable" in modern PC America.


1:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to go to the Gregorian Chant Mass at St. Victor's exactly BECAUSE it was the most orthodox Mass I could find. As someone has already stated, the church is smack dab in the middle of West Hollywood. There was a definite tension in the congregation between the people who went there because of the orthodoxy and the people who went there because it was right around the block.

The priests there were uber orthodox. The most liberal and gay-friendly priest I ever encountered was at St. Charles B. in Burbank. He was in the process of wreckovating that gorgeous church, last I heard. And that church has the most orthodox congregation in Los Angeles.

What is interesting and worthy of blogdom is the fact that Mahony assigned the most orhtodox priests to the parish in the middle of West Hollywood, and the extremely liberal and gay-friendly priest to the most orthodox congregation.

I think those moves were punitive, in both cases. In one case, to punish the priests and in the other, to punish the congregation.

I've given up on hoping the Church will help Los Angeles, but I still mention it to God every now and then.

12:43 PM  

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