California Parish Denies Funeral Mass to Open Homosexual

This is generating waves in the Golden State:

A local Catholic church is accused of canceling the funeral service of a parishioner because he was gay.

Local businessman and devout Catholic John Sanfilippo died last week after a prolonged illness. Friends said Sanfilippo planned for the funeral mass to be held at Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church in Little Italy.

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

First, notice how Local 10 News feels free to make the editorial comment that Mr. Sanfilippo was a “devout” Catholic? By what measure, I wonder, have they expertly determined that he was a “devout” Catholic?

Here’s how Mr. Sanfilippo’s friend responded:

He led a small group in prayer outside the Our Lady of the Rosary on Monday and taped a letter addressed to Brom to the front door of the church. Ramirez said the letter asks the bishop to clarify the church’s position on funerals for gay parishioners.

So, this “devout” Catholic’s friend responds to the news by taking a page right out of Protestantism’s most famous gesture? That didn’t take long.

Next, in a classic case of burying the lead, it turns out the Diocese of San Diego has actually decided to allow the funeral to take place after all (any folks with canonical training want to comment on this decision, considering how Canon 1184 reads?):

“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.”

… Sanfilippo’s family had already found another Catholic church for the funeral.

This story had some personal interest for me because it’s the parish where I learned to serve Mass and continued to serve Mass for many years while growing up. At least one of the priests I remember being there still serves as the associate pastor. I remember him as simply a good, “old-school” Catholic priest who loved celebrating Mass, praying the rosary (obviously, considering the patron saint of the parish), and simply believed and preached what the Church holds.

Now, because someone who lived a lifestyle deeply opposed to Christian morals was temporarily refused a Catholic funeral Mass, we have people praying in protest outside the Church and taping letters to its front door. I don’t remember that kind of thing happening when I was serving daily Mass there in my youth.



  • Ruth

    I give this Parish Priest a lot of credit & will pray for him & all other Priests to follow in his fine footsteps. You cannot go against Catholic doctrine and still expect to be called “devout”, or “practing Catholic”. If he was he wouldn’t be gay in the first place. I’m sure the man as a person was a good man, but you can’t go against Catholic teachings. Here’s a thought to ponder on: LOVE THE SINNER, HATE THE SIN!

    • Patrick

      I so desperately wish you were right, that this was a choice. I’d love to undo it and participate in the Church as fully as you are able.

      • Bruce

        Why? Are you not expected to live a chaste life like the rest of us?

    • Tim

      It is so sad that it is still considered permissible to believe that people can choose to be gay. It is a cross that some people are given to bear against their will. I’ve known gay Catholics who struggle mightily and constantly to live the will of Christ as taught by His Church, remaining chaste in the face of temptation, just like those of us who do not have that cross.

      Did we choose to be straight? I didn’t.

      • Bruce

        Really? I know several homosexuals who are now in normal, healthy relationships (heterosexual relationships) and several others who happily accept their disorder and embrace a chaste lifestyle.

        • Patrick

          While I don’t think it’s any of your business, I AM living a chaste life.

          I wonder if your pursuits against other categories of sinners is quite as vigorous as this. I also wonder how much prayer on my part it will take for you to realize God doesn’t want us casting stones at our fellow Christians, but instead helping them find their path to His love.

          Denying this man a proper Catholic funeral because he is a particular TYPE of sinner versus some other kind is only going to harden hearts.

          • Hibernian Faithful


            Bless you and you are in my prayers and I would ask you to pray for me. Denying someone who openly rejects teachings a funeral, while seemingly harsh is consistent with the notion that we have to be responsible for our actions. The Church has not always been consistent, look at all the Mafia funerals. I would be disappointed if someone who lived in a state of adultry as defined by Canon Law was not denied a funeral mass.

            Take care

            This video might be of some interest to you.


            God bless

          • Patrick

            I appreciate your prayers, and you certainly will have mine.

            That being said, if the Church held every “lifestyle” sinner to this rule in the way many on this blog would have it applied, I suppose we could make inroads into our priest shortage problem. There’d be so few people to bury! No divorcees, no mobsters, no gays, no adulterers … who else? Let’s start filling out our moral “hitlist.”

        • Patrick S

          What sad and pathetic statements.

      • Hibernian Faithful

        The choice is to commit the sin. The bearing of cross of same sex affliction is very difficult, but our duty is love and prayer for their strengthen – they are not less then us, they are us. Try this watching this video

  • Bruce

    More examples of “tolerance” and “equality for all” from the homosexualist movement. Perhaps they should go ahead and file criminal or civil charges against the Church regarding her own beliefs and practices, since that is ultimately what they want to do anyway. The question is not whether they will win, but how much we, as Catholics, are willing to risk defending truth. Our jobs? Our homes? Our families? Our lives? Make no mistake. The West is now enemy territory – a place hostile to missionaries. We either need to put up or shut up.

    • David in Houston

      Seriously? Exactly who is being “intolerant” in this scenario? The dead gay man, forcing the church to deal with his corpse? How rude of him! There’s this new word called “empathy”. You might want to look it up. Although, I though religious people were suppose to have it in “spades”.

      The fact that people still believe that someone’s sexual orientation can be a sin is dumbfounding. While you’re at it, why don’t you sacrifice some virgins and stone some adulterers. You’d think we were still living in the middle ages. But then again, that’s what religion brings to the table… the permission to demonize those that are different than you.

      • Bruce

        By your own words, you just made yourself a hypocrite. Congrats! :)

  • Lucy

    What a sad story. A church turns its back on a fellow human being. And Thomas is taken aback at a protest and a notice placed on the church door. Perhaps that’s sadder still.

    • Bruce

      It is really interesting how you not only know the untold details of this case, you also appear to be some sort of expert on Church teaching and practices. Wow, it is really wonderful to have you here so we can ask you questions! So, Lucy, did this man repent on his deathbed, since you were in the room and by his side, within ear shot of whatever was said to the priest. Oh, and was there a priest there? OO! OO! and was his lover and other patrons of his homosexual bar there too? Did they repent of their sins and accept God’s love and mercy and His teachings before this man’s death too? That is something I think we would all like to know, since you appear to know. Oh, and when did the Church change its 2000-year-old teaching that heaven is open to all who accept God’s love, and that she is not the one who determines heaven or hell, but rather the individual? I must have missed that, but I’m glad you cleared that all up. :)

      • Lucy

        I know this is going to chock you Bruce but there are many people who don’t believe that Catholic Church doctrine is accurate. I’m so happy this family turned away from the Catholic Church and was able to recognize the non-humanity and hypocrisy of Catholic doctrine while they are still alive. This recognition is a gift given to them by their relative who is no longer with us. What a wonderful legacy this man left behind.

        • Bruce

          I am not “chocked” Lucy, mostly because I am not sure what being “chocked” means. But I digress. The article mentions Catholics, which means people who are bound out of faithful and free obedience to abide by Catholic teachings. Unless you and I are reading different articles, I’m not sure what you are talking about. Its kind of like the whole “chocked” thing. It just doesn’t make sense.

    • Whitney

      No Lucy, what is sad is that you are defending an unrepentant person who flaunted his sin while claiming to be a Catholic. Furthermore, protesting against the Catholic church is always, always wrong. Claiming that the sun rises in the west never makes it so. Similarly, claiming that the Catholic church, holder of Truth, has made an error in judgement will always be a false claim.

  • Natalie

    While it is obvious this man was not a devout Catholic, I don’t think it is merciful to deny the man a funeral. Many people die in a state of sin and are not refused a Catholic funeral. This man has died in a state of “obvious sin” whereas other sinful behaviors are easily hidden. If we deny funerals for our gay Christian brothers shouldn’t we then deny funerals for those who are unmarried cohabitants, those who have addictions of various sorts, really anyone who has died in a state of unconquered sin?

    • Whitney

      Indeed we should, Natalie. Those who die in a state of mortal sin will never know God in the afterlife because they have rejected Him. Refusing a Catholic funeral is an earthly symbol – a warning to those who would do likewise. It sends a clear message: if you die unrepentant of supporting abortion, destruction of marriage, etc., you have sealed yourself off (not the other way around!) from the mercy of the Catholic church. In fact, regular public statements of “_______ is not in God’s presence because he rejected Catholicism by the unrepentant sin of ________” would be good when a Catholyc in the public eye passes on. Let’s stop sugarcoating things and maybe we’ll get people on the right path again.

      • Mike

        Excuse me Natalie, but how do you propose that we know if someone is in a state of mortal sin. While I’ll certainly agree that we can know that things are objectively evil and indeed seriously sinful, proposing that you can judge a man’s conscience of mortal sin violates Jesus’ command not to judge our neighbor lest we be judged. Further, I’m not sue how you or any of us can know if he did not repent on his deathbed. Indeed, we should pray that this is the case and that he has found mercy and forgiveness with God. And to make such proud and haughty statements as you suggest would bring greater scandal.
        The canon calls for consideration of the scandal that might be caused by offering Catholic funeral rites to someone in manifest sin. It states nothing concerning the destination of a person’s soul based on that manifest sin or that we can or should publicly declare them damned.

        • Mundabor

          the Church is cleverer than that.
          The man lived in public sin. Public. The Church values the scandal that he gave to the other Catholics, not his private struggle against sin.

          We Catholics must recover the concept of public scandal, and sto hiding ourselves behind the finger of “not really knowing”.

          The Canon Law (915) prescribes that the chap couldn’t even have received communion.

          Facts count.
          Behaviour counts.
          Public choices count.

          Let us stop kidding ourselves.


          • Mike

            Dear Mundabor,

            I agree with you. I don’t deny offering this man a Catholic funeral may cause scandal. Indeed, St. Paul clearly exhorts us to avoid scandal, because of the weak may be lead astray in his discussion of eating the meat offered to idols (1 Cor. 8). Indeed at canon 1752 states “…the salvation of souls, which must always be the supreme law in the Church, is to be kept before one’s eyes.”

            What I am criticizing is the idea that we should declare that we know in particular which people are cut off from the presence of God and are unrepentant in their sin on their deathbed. I pray that this man did repent and received God’s mercy, but we do know that he did die in serious sin and we cannot pretend that serious sin is not serious. Thus the sanction from a Catholic bury does make sense in light of possible scandal, but does not declare the man died in mortal sin or unrepentant, that is a judgement left to God.

            Too often we get into deep seated divisions in our Church. Real Catholics™ vs. those Catholycs, the lepers of the Real Church™. We are the Real Catholics™, because we are of Apollos, or Paul, or John. They, those wretched people over there, are not, they are of Peter or Barnabas. How often does St. Paul exhort us against these sorts of divisions?

            Others Catholics may fall into impurity and even fight against the sexual teachings of the Church, but how often are we fighting against the teachings to love our neighbor and seek unity with Christians?

            St. Paul exhorts us:
            “Live in harmony with one another” (Rom 12:16)
            “Is Christ divided?” (1 Cor 1:12)
            “For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving like ordinary men?” (1 Cor 3:3)

            St. John, the beloved disciple warns us:
            “We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers. Whoever does not love remains in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life remaining in him.” (1 John 3:14-15)

            And Our Lord and Savior exhorts:
            “Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste, and no town or house divided against itself will stand.” (Matt. 12:25)
            “I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.” (John 17:20-21)
            “But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa,’ will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna.” (Matt. 5:22)

            Is not our Holy Father Pope Benedict, the Pope of Christian Unity?

            I do not say that we should not speak the truth. We should loudly and proudly as Catholics. Indeed, charity without truth is sentimentality, but truth without charity is cruelty. We should do our best to be faithful Catholics.

            But what scandal does it bring the Church when we sow division? How does labeling part of the Body of Christ “Catholyc” work for the salvation of souls? I will admit that in my weakness, I almost left the Church because I was disgusted by the in fighting of my brethren, but thanks be to God that he gave me the strength to accept a Church of sinners and acknowledge myself as one of them.

            Should we not be working for unity, rather than cursing our brothers for their weakness? Why are we not running after the lost sheep? What is greater, a sin against purity, or a sin against charity?

        • Patrick

          Thank you for this, Mike.

      • Bill

        And how do you know he died unrepentant? How do any of us know?

        The “mercy of the Catholic Church”? What about God’s mercy?

  • Beth Lemer

    wow. talk about being holier then thou. I’d hate to die while being teh horrible sinner myself to find out my church wouldnt even do a funeral for me because of my journey in the faith, I know I am sinner, I know I dont understand things, but this went way to far. Some people just LOOOOVEEE drama dont they?

  • cmb

    take the Canon Law and put it where your heart used to be…

    • jcd

      Sodomy is one of the sins crying out to Heaven for the vengeance of God.



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