“A 100 percent chance we will not be in the parade”

“A 100 percent chance we will not be in the parade”

San Francisco parishes won’t join this year’s “gay pride” march, but Most Holy Redeemer will have beverage booth

parishes with a history of openly participating in San Francisco’s
annual “gay pride” parade will not be joining the spectacle this year
after the city’s archbishop requested that they desist and because,
according to their pastors, interest among parishioners has faded.

Steve Meriwether, pastor of Most Holy Redeemer Church in San
Francisco’s predominantly homosexual Castro District, said parishioners
chose not to participate of their own volition. “It is really just our
response to… well, we’re tired of the hate mail,” he said. “The
parishioners see their participation in the parade as an evangelical
outreach, but they don’t enjoy being called nasty names either. This
wasn’t because of any request from the archdiocese.”

But Maurice Healy, director of archdiocesan communications, said
the chancery did request that Most Holy Redeemer stay out of this
year’s “Pride Weekend,” including the annual parade. “It was probably a
combination of that and the archdiocese talking to them,” said Healy,
when told that Fr. Meriwether had insisted parishioners made the
decision not to participate. “At the parish level and the archdiocesan
level, it probably was felt that it was a good idea.”

The June 1 Most Holy Redeemer bulletin, however, indicates the parish will
participate in the weekend’s events by sponsoring a beverage booth near
San Francisco’s Civic Center, next to the main stage, on Saturday, June
28. Members of MHR’s AIDS Support Group will staff the booth. “There’s
a 100 percent chance we will not be in the parade this year, but the
AIDS Support Group will have a beverage booth to raise funds for AIDS
services,” said Robert Pementell, director of the group.

“It’s a fundraising booth,” said Fr. Meriwether. “They’re assigned
for Saturday, which is not actually the day of the parade, but the day
before.” The booth, said Fr. Meriwether, will show sponsorship by Most
Holy Redeemer with a sign. “It’ll probably say, ‘MHR AIDS Support

Holy Redeemer is not the only San Francisco parish that has
participated in the annual “gay pride” events. St. Agnes, a nearby
parish located on Masonic Street in the Haight Ashbury District, has
also been involved as well. Its pastor, Jesuit Superior Fr. J. Cameron
Ayers, said his parish will not participate this year either. “We just
haven’t had the same level of interest from our parishioners that we
had a few years ago,” said Fr. Ayers. “There was no order given to me
from the archdiocese, but I can’t speak for other parishes.”

Father Meriwether’s parish has been under intense scrutiny and
criticism since Archbishop George Niederauer gave Communion last
October to two members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a group
of transvestites who dress as nuns. After the story drew national
attention with an accompanying video of the event widely distributed on
the Internet, Most Holy Redeemer implemented a policy of prohibiting
all cameras and video equipment in the church unless given prior

Fr. Meriwether says the decision was made on the advice of legal
counsel. “They told us that if we could find out who had taken the
pictures, then parishioners who were outraged at having their pictures
taken and published could sue. So we’re liable as well,” he said.

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