Monday, April 25, 2011

'Divisive and exclusionary' Catholic priests minister to homosexuals

Two Catholic priests, one serving in the Diocese of Oakland and the other in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, are offering questionable retreats for “LGBT Catholics” and have ties to groups with views at odds with Church teachings. One has even publicly supported same-sex marriage.
The two are Fr. David Matz, C.PP.S. and Fr. Joe Nassal, C.PP.S. – both members of the Kansas City Province of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood

The order was founded in Italy in 1815 by St. Gaspar de Bufalo. Missionaries of the Precious Blood serve in 20 countries around the world. Fr. Nassal, the vice-provincial of the order’s Kansas City province, is based at the Sonnino Mission House in Berkeley. Fr. Matz serves as “Assisting Clergy” at San Raphael’s parish in San Raphael in the Archdiocese of San Francisco.
The website of the Missionaries’ Kansas City Province includes an “Apostolate” section. One of the tabs is to the “Precious Blood Ministry of Justice,” which lists Fr. Matz as the contact, and consists of a single link, to a website called The header banner of that website reads, “Precious Blood Ministry of Justice for Persons Who Are LGBT.” That is the “Precious Blood Ministry of Justice” in its entirety -- the page covers no other subject.
The webpage is a forum for groups such as Call to Action and New Ways Ministry, both of which have been strongly condemned by the Church. The page also includes suggested prayers for “National Coming Out Day.” In addition, “An Open Letter to the Hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church” from 2010 is included on the page.

The letter says in part, “As Catholic pastors, we have become increasingly disturbed by the tone and, in some cases, content of documents and statements from the Vatican, bishops’ conferences and individual bishops on issues categorized under the heading of ‘homosexual’ or ‘gay/lesbian.’ We respect the teaching authority of the Church. Because of this, we find particularly troubling the increase in the use of violent and abusive language directed at any human person. Such language is inappropriate. This is especially so when addressing members of the community of the faithful. These divisive and exclusionary statements from the Church are contrary to sound pastoral practice.”
The association with dissident groups like Call to Action and New Ways Ministry may be confined to the order’s Kansas City province. A search on the C.PP.S worldwide website returns no results for either “lgbt” or “gay.” The worldwide site does note that from Sept. 1 to Sept. 30 there will be an “Official Visitation” to the Kansas City Province.
Both Fathers Matz and Nassal are highly regarded by “Catholics for Equality,” an organization that His Excellency Timothy Broglio, Archbishop for the Military Service, said “cannot be legitimately recognized as Catholic.” On December 8, 2010, Susan Gibbs, speaking for her boss, Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington DC, also said that Catholics for Equality is “… not a Catholic organization. It was formed in opposition to Catholic teaching.”

Communion, the monthly newsletter of Catholics for Equality has promoted, and approvingly reviewed, a number of LGBT-targeted retreats led by the pair. Most recently, the March 2011 issue of Communion promoted a “Day of Reflection” at Sonnino Mission House on April 9 as “a Lenten-themed LGBT Day of Reflection with Joe Nassal and David Matz.” Although located within the Diocese of Oakland, the Sonnino Mission House is not one of the retreat centers recognized on the diocesan webpage.
The August, 2010 issue of Communion published the following letter from Fr. Nassal, which said, in part: “Thank you for sending me your newsletter, Communion. I appreciate the information it conveys and the links you provide. … From a spiritual/theological viewpoint, it all depends on where we begin. Do we begin with the belief that we are created flawed (original sin) or do we begin with the premise that we are made in the image and likeness of God? I believe it is the latter which is why DIGNITY is such a powerful and appropriate name. We are made in God's image! Dave Matz and I were able to attend the Dignity Mass on Sunday and it was a prayerful and spirit-filled liturgy. The priest gave a wonderful reflection on ‘the other’ as ‘the beloved.’ Again, thanks for including me on your mailing list, and I look forward to meeting you in person! Joseph Nassal, CPPS Sonnino Mission House Berkeley.”
In addition to leading the LGBT retreats, Fr. Matz has also led an Advent Vespers Service at San Francisco’s Most Holy Redeemer Church. He has also publicly supported same-sex “marriage.” 

In October of 2008, the web calendar of the Spectrum LGBT Center in San Rafael reported: “On Sunday, November 2nd, at 7:00 PM, leaders of diverse faith traditions invite the community to gather at First Presbyterian Church, 1510 Fifth Avenue, San Rafael for an interfaith gathering in support of same-sex marriage... Proposition 8 would eliminate that right. This event is a call to people of every faith, to say ‘No’ to injustice.” 

The webpage then listed “Speakers and Service Leaders” for the event. Included was “Father David Matz C.PP.S. Missionary of the Precious Blood.”