“This was not an isolated event in terms of how San Francisco treats Catholics,” Susan A. Fani, communications director for the Catholic League, told CNSNews.com. “For a city that’s very open and into diversity, we find that it is a hostile atmosphere for Catholicism.”
Newsom and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors are partly to blame for the attack on Holy Redeemer Catholic Church – which is being investigated as a “hate crime” by the police – because Newsom and the board “have shown nothing but contempt for the First Amendment rights of Catholics,” said the Catholic League in a statement.
Holy Redeemer Catholic Church is in San Francisco’s Castro district, a largely homosexual community, and the church has a reputation as being “gay friendly” because of its AIDS support group and apparent tolerance for the homosexual lifestyle.
On the morning of Jan. 4, graffiti was discovered spray-painted on the side of the church. The graffiti read: “Prop H8 Niederauer Ratzinger Where Is the Love?” A Nazi swastika was also spray-painted next to the words.
Rev. George H. Niederauer is the archbishop for the diocese of San Francisco, and Joseph Ratzinger is Pope Benedict XVI. “Prop H8” is a slang-insult for Proposition 8, a ballot initiative that passed in November and which amended the California state constitution to legally define marriage as being between a man and a woman.
Homosexual activists and many of their supporters took to calling the initiative “Proposition H8” (“Proposition Hate”) to counter-protest and, since the measure’s passage, numerous “Prop H8” Web sites have been launched that criticize the initiative and its backers, including Niederauer and many Catholics and conservatives in California and across the country.
Niederauer supported Proposition 8 and urged other Christians to back the initiative.
In a July 13 commentary published in Catholic San Francisco, the archbishop wrote: “I respectfully point out to those who govern us that the overwhelming majority of our sisters and brothers in the human family around the world define marriage as a union between one man and one woman, and they value this meaning of marriage as part of the common moral heritage of humanity.”
Maurice E. Healy, communications director for the archdiocese, told CNSNews.com: “The vandalism at Most Holy Redeemer was deplorable and reprehensible. Although the damage at the church was somewhat minor, the vandalism itself represents an attack on religious freedom. It has been condemned by many people.”
Newsom also condemned the vandalism in a Jan. 5 statement as “cowardly and criminal.”
“San Francisco is a city that embraces people of all faiths,” said Newsom. “To intimidate a community and threaten a place of worship with intolerance is contrary to everything the City of St. Francis represents.”
While the Catholic League did approve of Newsom’s statement, Susan Fani said that Newsom and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors need to take more “positive action” when Catholics or Catholic institutions are attacked.
Fani said there have been numerous instances of anti-Catholicism in San Francisco that need to be addressed. For example, crucifixes made into sex toys are sold on the street during the homosexual Folsom Street Fair, an annual event where naked men often engage in sexual acts in public.
Also, homosexual men dress up as nuns, the “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence,” and attend Catholic Masses in San Francisco, and this is “obviously offensive,” said Fani.
Newsom and the board “don’t say anything” about these anti-Catholic actions, said Fani. “If there was a Star of David sex toy, they’d probably come out and say ‘that’s not right.’”
Newson, who opposed Proposition 8, “is the first one to speak out and call it a travesty,” when gays are attacked in some way, said Fani. “He’s not shy in talking about groups that are favored. Apparently, the Catholic Church is not a favored group because of the Catholic Church’s teaching on homosexual conduct.”
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in March 2006 to condemn the Catholic Church’s opposition to homosexual couples adopting children, and that exemplifies the city’s hostility toward Catholics, said Fani.
“The state commenting and condemning the Catholic Church’s teaching is a serious infraction of the First Amendment,” said Fani. “Everyone likes to talk about separation of church and state, but here you have the state condemning the church – that’s completely inappropriate.”
The Catholic News Service reported that the Archdiocese of San Francisco’s Pastoral Center were also vandalized on Jan. 5. Stenciled on the walls and windows was the phrase, “The Catholic church is in no position to legislate my sexuality.”
The vandalism at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church is still under investigation, and no arrests have been made. The Catholic League said that it is not aware of any prominent homosexual leaders or pro-homosexual organizations denouncing the vandalism.