Catholic Church | News | Pope Benedict | Proposition 8 | San Francisco | Vandalism

Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in SF Hit by Vandals


Yesterday it was reported that Holy Redeemer Church in San Francisco had been targeted by vandals presumably for its support of Proposition 8. The church was spray painted with "Ratzinger" (referring to the Pope) and Niederauer (referring to the San Francisco archbishop) along with swastikas and other graffiti.

NiederaurerSaid Pastor Steve Meriweather to KCBS: "I think it's unfortunate that they selected our community to attack, because it's the wrong one."

ABC7 wrote: "It appears the vandals are upset about the Catholic church's support of Proposition 8, which made same-sex marriage illegal in California. But, the Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church on Diamond Street is gay-friendly. Many parishioners voted against Prop 8 and they are upset their church was targeted. 'We're very disturbed by the hierarchy's support of the Yes on Eight Campaign. We've been in conversation with the bishop, which is the way I think we need to handle it. I think Catholic teaching shows us we're all a community and we all need to talk to one another about it even if we have disagreements,' said Rob Hopckey."

Niederauer's actions during the Prop 8 campaign attracted plenty of attention. The archbishop sent out an email flyer before the election to his Holy Redeemer parishioners urging them to make a "Yes" vote on Proposition 8, as was reported in the San Francisco Chronicle on October 18.

Said Matt Dorsey, a member of the Holy Redeemer Parish Council, to the Chronicle at the time: "It is really out of right field. I would expect this from Karl Rove, but not from the spiritual leader of (several hundred thousand) Catholics."

Niederauer also defended his action on Prop 8 at the beginning of December in a letter posted to his website. Niederauer urged people to accept the procreation argument for the family and the "marriage" label, and wants gays to accept "a contract for the benefit of a relationship between adults" but not call it marriage. He forgives "single parents, grandparents, foster parents and others" who "fail to realize" the ideal procreative one man-one woman model but doesn't deny them his permission to marry, because they are heterosexual.
Basically, Niederauer wants gays and lesbians (many of whom do procreate through surrogates, etc, I might add) to accept their status as second-class citizens and move on.

The vandalism is being investigated.

SF Archbishop Niederauer Wants Gays to Accept Second-Class Status [tr]
S.F. Catholic church walks fine line on Prop. 8 [sf chronicle]

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  1. The "but" is misplaced. The statement needs to read:

    "Vandalism is in no way justified by any stretch.

    Archbishop Niederauer did send out an email flyer before the election to his Holy Redeemer parishioners urging them to make a "Yes" vote on Proposition 8, as was reported in the San Francisco Chronicle on October 18."

    Either we condemn the action or we don't.

    Indefensible actions must not taint the otherwise legitimate condemnation of the Catholic Church's position on Prop 8.

    This is underlined by the apparent fact that the targeted congregation appears to have been against Prop 8.

    Posted by: MammaB | Jan 5, 2009 7:29:04 AM

  2. Sad. Sad. Sad. I saw this while strolling around the Castro yesterday morning. Many of you might disagree, but this is just wrong. These dipshit pro-Prop 8 idiots were just given a boat load of amunition.... there are far better ways to fight this or respond to these individuals, just not this way.

    Posted by: SCOTT | Jan 5, 2009 7:33:27 AM

  3. I am not supporting vandalism but everyone should remember the 1960s and 1970s. Vandalism/violence works to some degree. It gets the attention of the powers that be. Dr. Martin Luther King would not have been so successful if Malcolm X had not existed.

    Posted by: elg | Jan 5, 2009 7:58:17 AM

  4. The vandalism is unfortunate and wrong, but let's dispense with the idiotic notion that there is such a thing as a "gay-friendly Catholic church." Would anyone dare speak of a "pro-choice Catholic Church"?

    Posted by: KipEsquire | Jan 5, 2009 8:16:24 AM

  5. The point is that a statement like

    "I am not supporting vandalism but everyone should remember the 1960s and 1970s. Vandalism/violence works to some degree."

    supports Vandalism/violence by saying that it works to some degree. If that's what you mean, then say

    "Vandalism/violence works to some degree", without trying to distance yourself from this vandalism.

    Try out "I am all for equal rights for gays, but allowing gay marriage devalues the institution of marriage." You can't have it both ways.

    Posted by: MammaB | Jan 5, 2009 8:23:00 AM

  6. I don't know if I really believe this happened...could it not have been done by pro-Prop 8'ers to drum up a talking point and sympathy? I mean...SWASTIKAS??? I just don't see it.

    At any rate, vandalism is petty and stupid and wrong.

    Like the Church.

    Posted by: Matthew Rettenmund | Jan 5, 2009 8:27:06 AM

  7. Matthew's mind went the same direction as mine. Let's wait and see if the police can track down the culprit. My mind keeps going back to the elections and to the time the McCain supporter carved a B on her face.

    Posted by: Mike in the Tundra | Jan 5, 2009 8:37:54 AM

  8. I disagree with vandalism. That said I also disagree with the Most Holy Redeemer Church and its members that send monthly checks to the Vatican which pay for the salaries and lush lifestyles of hateful Catholics like Ratzinger and his boyfriend Niederauer.
    Wake up and smell the coffee people.

    Posted by: ggreen | Jan 5, 2009 8:57:36 AM

  9. What's more important -- people or property?

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Jan 5, 2009 9:07:57 AM

  10. This is the Pro Prop 8 supporters trying to strike back because they know that they are losing the fight. We know that they lied in their campaign to pass Prop 8 and we know that these so called Christians will do anything to harm Gay people. I think a swastika is a very appropriate symbol for the Catholic Church, I mean their Pope is a Nazi and there are pictures all over the internet to prove this. The only good Christian is a Gay Christian.

    Posted by: DC | Jan 5, 2009 9:31:06 AM

  11. "Vandalism is in no way justified by any stretch." "...deplorable..."

    Really? I gotta tell you this doesn't bother me much.

    The urge to control ALL responses to anti-gay bigots reveals self-loathing: how is it we are ALL one monolith and supposed to act exactly as They want us to, or you tell us to? Are all straight people responsible for the unibomer and Timothy McVeigh? Just b/c a "church" is tagged doesn't invalidate the bigotry of Ratzinger and Niederauer. It also does NOT mean "The Gays" are ALL evil.

    Like Dan Savage said, if a "church" goes to the trouble to fuck around with people in the public political realm those people will fight back. The "church" has opened itself up to responses of ALL types from ALL people.

    Posted by: Ben | Jan 5, 2009 9:46:09 AM

  12. The Catholic Church supported the Nazis and, with regard to homosexuality, still do. It's called terrorism.

    Powerless people use whatever means necessary to strike back...because they have no other options. Resorting to vandalism shows you exactly how desperate and disenfranchised gay people feel, how impoverished we are politically.

    I expect to see more.

    Posted by: Mark | Jan 5, 2009 9:54:01 AM

  13. Ben:

    "The 'church' has opened itself up to responses of ALL types from ALL people."

    That's not true.

    Murder is off the table, from ALL people. Arson is off the table, from ALL people. And vandalism is or isn't off the table, depending on your point of view.

    If it's a legitimate response, so be it - we should brace ourselves if that's the case.

    The point, as small as it may be, is that it's not legitimate to denounce it and then excuse it in the same sentence.

    "The vandalism, while deplorable, appeared to be targeting that message and not the church's parishioners."

    Posted by: MammaB | Jan 5, 2009 10:15:55 AM

  14. I was quite upset on Sunday morning when I saw this as I walked up to church, as Most Holy Redeemer is MY parish.

    I'm glad to see so many of you have turned into the hateful bigots of the right wing. The vast majority of the parish is gay men who support gay marriage. All of you are forgetting the arguments you made a couple of months ago that there is a CIVIL marriage and RELIGIOUS marriage. While our faith teaches that the marriage sacrament is between a man and a women, we firmly believe that the US government should recognize marriage between two people regardless of gender.

    Complaining that the Catholic Church is against gay marriage just plays into the right wing fears that allowing same-sex couples to marry will force all churches to marry them, which is not true.

    Most Holy Redeemer is probably the most gay friendly church in the United States. Recently we held a vigil at the Pink Triangle Memorial to speak out against Niederauer's flyer. Our parish continues to do so much for the gay community. We are located in the heart of the Castro and we support our community. Father Steve Meriweather always preaches of inclusivity, regardless of if a person is male, female, black, white, brown, gay, straight, old, young.

    The vandals chose the wrong Catholic Church to do this to, and it is hurtful because we thought we were on the same side.

    I see now that, despite my work for the No on 8 campaign, many of you do not see me as being on the same side simply because I'm Catholic.

    Posted by: Eric | Jan 5, 2009 1:05:01 PM

  15. The Catholic Church is not on our side. The pope only recently compared the threat that gays pose to the world as equal to global warming. If you're a gay man who props up the Catholic Church or the LDS, you're a fool.

    I whole-heartedly support the defacing of these so-called churches in order to make clear that we will not forget their role in the diminishing of our rights. If one congregation of dillusional queens gets worked up over it. Good. I hope they think long and hard before givign any more donations.

    Posted by: Ken | Jan 5, 2009 1:24:17 PM

  16. Eric:
    You pay the popes prada bills, how could we be on the same side?

    Posted by: alaska | Jan 5, 2009 1:30:27 PM

  17. My church, a United Church of Christ, has been vandalized NUMEROUS times in the short four and a half years that I have been there. We were vandalized a couple of times after our national church and our local congregation took a public stand in support of spiritual and civil marriage equality for gay people. We were vandalized following 9/11 when we reached out to the local Muslim community to shield them and offer them sanctuary from the ignorant and viciously hateful community that surrounded them. We were vandalized a couple of times more when we took a very public stand in support of a local Muslim man who was arrested and imprisoned for terrorist activity (and who is STILL imprisoned even four years AFTER he was found NOT GUILTY in Federal court of the charges against him). And we were recently vandalized when we UNANYMOUSLY passed a resolution against Amendment 2 and hung a twelve foot banner beside the busy road in front of our church that read "ANOTHER Christian Church against discrimination. VOTE NO on Amendment 2".

    Not one single time has our vandalism made the local (much less national) news. Not one single time have we sought attention from the media or the community when we were targeted. Never have we tried to make a public accusation that the perpetraters were conservatives and fundamentalist Christians, even though we know this to be a fact.

    We see the vandalism as the price we pay for speaking what we believe to be true. We don't whine about it. We don't cry about it and we don't draw attention to it in an attempt to gain political points.

    We are not atypical of progressive UCC's and other progressive churches across the country yet somehow you almost never hear of the WEEKLY and long since ongoing vandalism attacks on progressive churches by political and religious conservative.

    To this church in CA; to Rick Warren and other fundamentalist who have been whining and crying about the abuse and oppression that they face; to the Mormon church I say, yes, vandalism against your property and acts of hatred toward you are wrong but JESUS CHRIST grow up and suck it up and stop whining, crying and running to the media everytime someone's mean to you. Stand by what you believe and suffer the consequences of it. If you people had been in charge of the church for the first few centuries the Catholics would have been hard pressed to find a martyr who wasn't a whining crybaby unworthy of being paid homage. Report the crime to the police, clean it up, keep it to yourselves, move on and stop trying to score political points with your victimization meme. And try, just try to consider the distict possibility that a PRO prop 8 person would have just as much, if not more, incentive to do this than an anti prop 8 person would. Same goes for the alleged white powder at the Mormon Temples. What kind of publicity does this sort of thing generate and who would most benefit from it? The answer seems pretty clear to me.

    Posted by: Zeke | Jan 5, 2009 1:38:33 PM

  18. Oh, and we were also vandalized when we took a very public anti-war stand prior to and subsequent to our invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Most churches have comittees formed, discussions, arguments and even wars every twenty years or so when it comes time to repaint the church buildings. We've never had that luxury since we find ourselves priming and repainting good portions of our buildings at least twice a year.

    Posted by: Zeke | Jan 5, 2009 1:52:01 PM

  19. For all you who decry the gay community being painted as a monolith that thinks and acts the same way, you sure do the same thing to other groups.

    The comments here are disgusting.

    Posted by: Eric | Jan 5, 2009 1:55:39 PM

  20. There's a big difference betwen demonizing a community of indivuduals and pointing out the transgressions of a wealthy and powerful world-spanning organization operating under a centralized dogma and headed by a supposedly infallible leader.

    Spare us your narrow-sighted outrage.

    Posted by: Ken | Jan 5, 2009 3:50:09 PM

  21. Ken:

    "I whole-heartedly support the defacing of these so-called churches in order to make clear that we will not forget their role in the diminishing of our rights." sounds like the "narrow-sighted outrage" that you're critical of, no?

    Ken and Zeke:

    There are a lot of people of faith, for lack of a better term, in the USA and elsewhere. Do we have to chose to be either with them (all) or against them (all) based on any one issue?

    More specifically, if I think it's ridiculous, for instance, for any religious organization to benefit from tax breaks, does that justify my defacing their property? Aren't we mixing two issues, namely a) my passionate disagreement with views that they hold, and b) lawful means of expressing that disagreement?

    Posted by: MammaB | Jan 5, 2009 4:54:01 PM

  22. MAMMAB: You have a point. And I wouldn't ordinarily support the destruction of property for the purpose of conveying a message, but a bit of spray painting is little more than an inconvenience that's easily remedied with a coat of paint. I'm not saying smash the windows and burn the place down. I just think the overwrought reaction to the message is reactionary and way too worried about what the heteros think and not worried enough about the role of the church in relegating our entire community to second class status.

    You're going way too broad in gay/religous relations as this was an action specifically against the position of the Catholic church which has officially taken stances that marginalize and villainize gay people.

    We don't have the money, the power, or the influence to confront the church via mainstream channels, so how does our community challenge an entity so vast? Of course not every member of the church agrees with the pope, but their support of the Church amounts to tacit approval and they need to be confronted with that fact.

    How do you confront tyranny? With letters they won't read? With postcards they ignore?

    Posted by: Ken | Jan 5, 2009 5:48:54 PM

  23. Over & over on "liberal" blogs like DailyKos (& now this one) I see people who claim to be "supporters" of gay rights fume & expostulate about how victimized they are. Wowee! Here's one instance of spraypaint, as easily remedied as any tagger's -- a couple splashes of housepaint and its gone! -- and the gay community is somehow the oppressor. Puh leez!

    No (straight) Catholic has to defend his or her marriage against a constitutional amendment. Catholics are not victims and watching them fuss and bloviate about a little critical paint (or critical pixels) is merely nauseating and reduces any sympathy I might have had to nil.

    What are the consequences of running a political campaign to strip people of basic civil rights? None are acceptable, it seems.

    Had any Religious group been targeted by a ballot measure to strip them of civil rights we would all EXPECT violent retaliation -- religious people are violent! Gays? Not much. Besides which, of course, gay people just don't count the same way, so there's no motive for retaliation cuz, you know, gay people don't really deserve family rights or any other sort of "rights."

    Deplorable? Hardly. Inconvenient, messy, impolite? That's about as far as I'd go.

    Posted by: Glenn I | Jan 5, 2009 7:14:19 PM

  24. The community at Most Holy Redeemer is lovely.


    Every time they pass the hat, the donations of those lovely people go to support not just a local church, but the hideous institution of which it is a part.

    Most Holy Redeemer is wholly accountable for the actions of the Catholic church hierarchy, because it supports the church hierarchy financially.

    Posted by: Distingué Traces | Jan 5, 2009 9:13:39 PM

  25. I understand the emotion that would drive one of our own to vandalize the church and, while I share the emotion, I do not condone the vandalism -- both because it is strategically unsound and bad behavior of the Golden Rule violation sort. That the Catholic Church is the nation's wealthiest and most powerful hate group is not an excuse.

    That said, until it is proven that one of our own did the deed, we must also leave open the possibility that some antigay person did it, as, strategically, it benefits our opposition more than it does us.

    Does that mean that I think we become responsible for any overreaction by the forces of hate -- no way! They oppress us whether we react to it or not.

    Posted by: Marla Stevens | Jan 5, 2009 10:22:09 PM

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