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SAN FRANCISCO: "First bishop to wed his same-sex partner"

SAN FRANCISCO: "First bishop to wed his same-sex partner"
San Francisco's Most Holy Redeemer parish invites retired male Episcopal bishop who 'married' a man to lead Advent Vespers service

November 22, 2011

Most Holy Redeemer Church, San Francisco's notoriously 'gay-friendly' parish, has invited a retired Episcopalian bishop who left his wife and family to 'marry' a man as guest speaker at a Nov. 30 Advent Vespers Service.

The invited guest is Episcopal Bishop Otis Charles, who in 2005 provided a biographical statement to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Religious Archives Network, which said in part: "Since 1979 he has been among a growing number of bishops who have spoken out for full and complete inclusion of gay and lesbian people in the church without restriction, recognizing their calling to ministry and rejecting the notion that a baptized homosexual must live a celibate life. Whether in an informal gathering or the pulpit, he characteristically begins, 'I am a gay man, an Episcopal (Anglican) bishop, a queer who only just mustered the courage to publicly acknowledge the truth of my life.'"

Not included in the statement is that Charles divorced his wife of 42 years, and has five children. It also does not include the fact that, on April 24, 2004, he "married" a man named Felipe Sanchez Paris in a ceremony at St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco.

The event was covered in the San Francisco Chronicle as "the world's first bishop to wed his same-sex partner in church." The Chronicle also reported that, following the "marriage," the Right Rev. William Swing, then Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of California, severed ties with Bishop Charles: "No longer is he an assisting bishop, and no longer is he licensed to celebrate the Sacraments here."

Pro-homosexuality Vespers speakers are not unusual at Most Holy Redeemer. In 2010 such speakers included Episcopal Rev. Jay Emerson Johnson, a staff member at the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley. His biographical page on the CLGS website says, "His current research and writing interests involve the intersections of queer theory and Christian traditions."

Another 2010 Vespers speaker at Most Holy Redeemer was the openly homosexual Rev. Jeff Bert, then serving as an associate pastor at Metropolitan Community Church of San Francisco.

In 2008, the parish hosted retired Detroit Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, who has challenged Church teaching on homosexuality and is a member of the dissident group Call to Action. Bishop Gumbleton is a recipient of the New Ways Ministry "Bridge Building" award. In 2010, Washington, D.C., Archbishop Donald Wuerl and Oakland Bishop Salvatore Cordileone, speaking for the USCCB, said of New Ways Ministry, "in no manner is this organization authorized to speak on behalf of the Catholic Church or to identify itself as a Catholic organization."

On Dec. 4, 2007 Most Holy Redeemer hosted Dr. Ora Prochovnick, then-president of Sha'ar Zahav Congregation of San Francisco, whose affiliations include "the World Congress of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Jews (WCGLBTJ) and the San Francisco Organizing Project (SFOP).

In 2006, Vespers speakers included same-sex "married" parishioner and past MHR Pastoral Council President Roz Gallo; Jesuit Fr. Donal Godfrey, a well-known homosexual activist; and Fr. David Matz, CPPS, a Missionary of the Precious Blood of the Kansas City Province. The MHR bulletin introduced Fr. Matz this way: "He is currently studying at Pacific School of Religion at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA, where he resides. He is studying for a Doctor of Ministry degree focusing on LGBT issues."


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