San Diego Catholic Church Denies Funeral to Gay Man

A Catholic Church in San Diego denied a funeral to one of its longtime parishioners because he was gay, 10 News reports:

Sanfilippo Local businessman and devout Catholic John Sanfilippo died last week after struggling with emphysema. Friends said Sanfilippo planned for the funeral mass to be held at Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church in Little Italy, where Sanfilippo had attended for decades. Friends said he even left the church a large sum of money in his will.

This past weekend, Sanfilippo's partner of 28 years and Sanfilippo's family were notified that the church canceled the funeral because Sanfilippo was gay.

And, apparently after outrage and some attention, the church has changed its mind:

In an email, Rodrigo Valdivia, the chancellor of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego, told 10News, "The Diocesan office was notified about this situation earlier today… Diocesan Authorities have concluded that the funeral as scheduled at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish may take place. Plans for the ritual are yet to be made."

At the cocktail lounge that Sanfilippo owned for 28 years came outrage from friends over what some called a confusing statement from the San Diego diocese.

"All of a sudden, they change their mind and say, 'Well, you know, we may still allow the funeral to be here.' Why? Because they got caught in the process of denying equal rights to people?" asked Neil Thomas, a friend and customer of Sanfilippo's.



  1. says

    It was the “large sum of money” that changed their minds. An attorney probably advised them that the bequest could be interpreted as a quid pro quo for the funeral and they shouldn’t risk a legal challenge.

  2. Joe says

    Opposing marriage is one thing, but a funeral! (of a longtime parishioner) Come on, that is just plain evil. Not that opposing same-sex marriage is any less evil or anything.

  3. Matt26 says

    Money from gays is alright, but nothing else, right? NOT! This sounds horrible and shows once again the true nature of the Catholic Church. I feel sorry for his partner, family, friends.

  4. GRivera says

    And yet they get tax breaks? It’s time to put these corrupt organizations on the level. Does anyone know what was added in the New York gay marriage act? The churches apparently received many religious freedom rights. So they are protected against being sued by any gays or lesbians who are refused being married? THEN TAX THEM! They are not representing and serving “all Americans” – IT’S TIME to show them what is fair.

    Their god hasn’t obviously has not…

  5. alex Parrish says

    The Roman Catholic church has every right to discriminate against LGBT people or anyone else for that matter, and they do so all the time, Discrimination laws do not apply to churches exercising their religious function. This is why the Phelps crowd is free to spread their hate. I would generally lump the RC church right in there with the Phelpsites. The tragedy here is that they didn’t care enough about this long-time parishioner to know him well enough to discriminate against him while he was still alive. That would have cut-off his weekly donations. I hope his family (and his money) go elsewhere.

  6. Dr. George says

    What’s the contact information for the Diocese? Does anyone have the bishop’s email address? The email addy for the chancellor?

  7. Gay American says

    …for all you (religious) gays out there….how about joining the UCC, and leaving Them your money….now this guys money (which they took easily) will be used to PAY off victims of sex abuse,and to fight against LGBT equality.

  8. TampaZeke says

    @GAY AMERICAN, Hear, hear!

    I’m not even Christian but I’m a member of the local UCC because of their commitment to, and ACTION for, social justice. I don’t care what flag they fly as long as they work to secure justice, fairness and equality for all.

  9. Marc C says

    You Catholics are just plain, mentally defective. There can be no other explanation.

  10. MacroT says

    All religions are shams and money-making entities that prey on the weak minded. This poor soul devoted much of his life to his church, only to have it turn on him in the hour of need. Hopefully, any gay person who is still throwing his money and time away on an organization that hates his very existence will wake up.

  11. stranded says

    I’m sorry, but if he was a Catholic for all those years he was supporting hate. You dance with the devil, you get burned.

  12. Beef and Fur says

    Thank you for the money and now go to hell. Oh, and sorry about that thing when you were a kid at camp and that really friendly priest. No hard feelings? Are we cool? BFFs!

  13. uffda says

    You mean there are still Catholics around, and he was one of them?
    When does a planet grow up?

  14. HadenoughBS says

    When are gay Catholics going to realize their church does not like them? The Papists can claim all they want that they hate the sin (homo sex) but love the sinner (homos). But, in reality, it’s all BS on their part. I’m sure this parishoner’s financial gift to the church helped change their mind regarding his funeral mass. How despicable! Wake up, folks, and realize how your church views you and yours. If you’ve got money to bequeath, why not do so to a non-discriminatory group or organization that’ll really help people in need?

  15. Jeff says

    Friendly Reminder…Do not spend or DONATE money to organizations that actively act AGAINST YOU. Like the Catholic Church. TARGET (and now Zeller’s if you are Canadian), Chik Fil-A. Carls Jr. Hardees, Cracker Barrel. It helps you by not spending your money there and it helps me and everyone else here too.

  16. Jack M says

    It’s the church that has to change, not the Catholic religion. Yes you can be gay and Catholic, and many Catholics are accepting of gay parishioners. It’s just a matter of time before love wins out.

  17. Javier says

    I do not presume to know about the life of this deceased gentleman so I will not make conclusions about him, but churches have the right to restrict their actions based on religious belief and dogma. For instance, if someone was openly, defiantly living a life contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the New Testament SCripture and did not confess Jesus as Lord, Savior, and God, it makes sense to disqualify such a person from being funeralized at a Christian Church that is faithful to Christ. In contrast, a celibate person gay or straight who professed faith in Christ should not be denied a funeral in a Christian church. At any rate, churches have the right to decline people who organizations from using their facilities who did not demonstrate faith in Jesus Christ. It happens all the time.

  18. says

    Just because the Church has the “right” to discriminate, doesn’t MAKE IT RIGHT. And people have the right, and responsibility, to point that out and call them on it.

  19. walter says

    @javier if they don’t want to bury him why would they want his money? it comes from a gay man. the church should then refuse to take the money and show they believe their principle, but alas they will do what they do best take the money and then preach their hate. that is what they believe christian charity is about.

  20. luminum says

    Well it’s a good thing that they’ll at least allow their child raping priests to be buried with their services and on their grounds.

    I mean, come on–the Catholic Church has to stand for SOMEthing.

  21. MrJ says

    Gays trying to blend into a conservative world…we gotta long way to go and looks like you can’t buy your way in. Too bad, Chris Barron.

  22. says

    I’m glad the church is refusing to allow a funeral for this gay man; we need more wake-up calls like this to not only gay Catholics, but gay-supportive Catholics.

    Yes. This is *good* news, we need more news like this – it’ll be vital in waking people UP from their delusional cocooned slumbers where they can sit in their pews, on their hairs with closed-months, and pretend that the RCC supports the just because today’s Sermon didn’t include condemnations of The Gays.

    LGBT and LGBT-supporting people don’t need to continue to support the RCC, financially and/or socially.

    Why bother when there are so many other religious institutions that 100% support the LGBT community?

  23. says

    Unlike with marriages, this isn’t a situation where the discrimination should be framed in terms of the church’s right to sanction or not sanction something–in this case, a person’s entire life. The man attended and supported the church for decades! It doesn’t matter if he was foolish to do so, or if the church doesn’t approve of his “lifestyle”–the decent thing to do would be let him have a dignified funeral. Instead, this Catholic church acted despicably and hatefully, and there is no excuse for their behavior. It’s not news that they’re out of touch with simple human decency, but if anyone had doubts . . .

  24. Dan P says

    The issue is not one of whether this church denied him equality, as they have a right to do that. But for a church to deny this parishioner human dignity is despicable in just about anyone’s book.

  25. kodiak says

    I’m sure he supported the church financially and in other ways over the decades. It obviously meant a lot to him. He was probably loved by other people that attended the same church. Then the powers that be reached out and “smote” him. That’s their notion of Charity, I suppose. Now they backtrack because they learn a little bit about him. He loved the Church. He financially supported it in major ways. He probably volunteered. He probably knew every official at the church. Maybe he sang in the choir until his lungs couldn’t do it any more. He saw the richness in his chosen religion. His religion saw nothing in him. How very sad. How very, very, sad. I hope this is made public in his congregation, and they talk about it. Maybe some light will make its’ way through those stained glass windows.

  26. ohplease says

    Why in the world would a gay man be a slave to Child Rape, Inc.? Besides their being a global criminal enterprise that exists to oppress and divide through lies and specifically hates you, there are no gods. What a way to waste your life.

  27. BobC562 says

    On the other hand, the Episcopal Church (same liturgy without the guilt) would have embraced him as he was, both in life and in death.

  28. ratbastard says

    Individual parishes are semi-independent and the local priest in charge can deny wedding or funeral services for a variety of reasons, especially if the people involved weren’t regular parishioners. That said, Mr. Sanfilippo was a long time parishioner, devout Catholic and left the church a large sum of money. They should be ashamed of themselves.

  29. anon says

    He probably should not have donated so much money. Funeral rites are one of the seven sacraments in the CC, so they are supposed to uphold doctrinal consistency. However, if he had gone to confession and received last rites just before he died they should not have been able to deny him a funeral (unless he somehow committed one of the unforgivable sins like suicide). I’m thinking someone reminded them of this tidbit so they had to go forth. I’ve even been to the Catholic funerals of suicides, which technically should not happen (there’s also the issue of the unbaptized). Not really a shining moment of doctrinal clarity.

  30. romeo says

    As an ex-catholic I can say that this is not a consistent policy in the church. Gays are given funerals all the time. It sounds like an ignoramus in the diocese, probably a foreigner, presumed to make this decision on his or her own. A few years ago I had a colonoscopy at an LA hospital. I had to sign the usual boilerplate at admission and checked off “no religion” at that question. The Eastern European admissions clerk got all kinds of upset, even insisting that I had to have a religion! I gave her the frost, and she no doubt started to think of her work visa because she backed off. Lots of hooples out there.

  31. Craig says

    Are they also refusing to bury priests who were found guilty of sex crimes against children? I’m guessing no.

    I went to a Catholic University (and glad I did) but after making annual contributions for more than 15 years I have stopped. I explain when they call twice a year that I cannot in right mind give to an organization that discriminates.

  32. wtf says

    Gay people who support religions who don’t support them back are STUPID. End of discussion. I could care less that this dumba$$ left a bunch of money to the Cathlick Church and then they (DUH) said they won’t give him a funeral because he’s GAY. Because ya see, the CATHLICKS DON’T LIKE THE GAYS. This is NOT NEWS. And frankly, any gay man who leaves money to the church is an idiot. Dead or not.

  33. Gregv says

    A lot of commenters are filling in the blanks with assumptions. From reading the article and cross-referencing with the obituary, there is nothing I see suggesting his partner of 28-years was a male. It would appear, rather, that she is a female named Cyndi, whom he married after he was perhaps widowed from the wife to whom he was previously married 49 years ago. There is nothing suggesting he ever had sex with a man or had any sexual or romantic relationship apart from the two female partners mentioned.
    For all I know, “Cyndi” could be gay too, and she could have married him to assuage their Catholic guilt about both being gay.

    Of course, there has got to be a lot more to the story, about which I have no personal knowledge. But every “devout Catholic” I’ve ever known had some messed-up ideas and influences. The idea of a gay man marrying a female just for obligation’s sake is a story we’ve all seen played out countless times.

    I’m not trying to fill in the blanks without really having info, but I’m just saying we don’t know much from these sources and we shouldn’t assume anything that’s not there. If anyone knows more, feel free to fill in those blanks.

  34. Mark says

    I could have swore the priests and such said something about hate the sin, love the sinner.

    Sounded good…..

  35. Ferencz says

    The SAD part is: WHYyyyy would ANY good GAY person leave ANY Catholic Church MONEY? :O I mean…hellllo faggs! LOLOL…Seriously, LEAVE your money where it TALKS boyz n gurlz! You local Gay Comm. Center? or a Clinic that HELPS gay youth? ANYwhere but the horrid Catholic (or ANY other ‘orginazed’ Religon!) Church!
    Sorry…I belive in GOD…NOT some b/s “Church” under the FALSE name of Jesus!

  36. Stigma Froid says

    Gays really should be able to deny any service to Catholics if this is the way they’re going to be.