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.



  • Katherine

    Now, because someone who lived a lifestyle deeply opposed to Christian morals was temporarily refused a Catholic funeral Mass…

    You are making a fool of yourself with this comment. Either defend denying him the funeral Mass or condemn the Church for allowing it. People in mourining over the death of a loved one shoudl not be put through games with “temporary” denials of an opportunity to pray for their friend and relative. Don’t wave this away because it was a “temporary denial.”

  • Kevin X

    The mainstream news describes him as a “gay businessman.”

    The gay press notes the was “owner of the SRO Lounge, a popular gay cocktail bar.”

    This changes the story considerably. If he were a heterosexual strip club owner or a swingers’ club owner, the controversy should be similar.

    This should also remind us of the need to warn sinners of their fate, it’s not enough for us to make empty-sounding comments about the “sanctity of marriage” when people are encouraging others in habits that could damn them.

    • Bruce

      Exactly. Christ did not tell His Body to hand out licenses and awards to sinners, He told us to admonish sinners and call them to conversion. This is a hospital for sinners, not a spa for homosexuals.

    • Kevin

      Kevin X, that was a very tidy sleight-of-hand you pulled off, there. You noted that the SRO Lounge was a popular gay cocktail bar but then transferred the image to a heterosexual “strip club” or “swingers’ club.” Was SRO a bar or a strip club?

      • Kevin X.

        Gay bars are disreputable places which lead their patrons to sin. There are other non-gay establishments that do this, too. Not slight-of-hand, but simple analogy.

        • Bruce

          Kevin X uber Kevin. Well-played.

  • Dan

    So, the Church can give funerals to divorced people, adulterers, people who beat their spouses or children, people who supported abortion, people who stole, people who turned their backs on the poor and rejected Jesus’ message of “Love one another, as I have loved you,” etc., but because a man is born gay he can’t have a funeral? And who are you to question if he is devout? Being gay and Catholic are not mutually exclusive. Faith is a private matter, and his friends and family know his faith (and good deeds in life) better than you do.

    • Erin

      It is not simply because he was gay, it was because he engaged in homosexual actions and behavior. This is where the media puts their spin on it to sensationalize it and outrage people – they say “because he was gay” rather than because he engaged in homosexual actions for the past x number of years. And no, the Church probably shouldn’t give funerals to straight couples who decide to live together and engage in sexual behaviors without being married, or politicians who actively work to promote and increase abortion access… unless these people repent prior to death, that is.

      • Bruce

        Dan, do you define yourself by how you stimulate your genitals? It is a fair question. There are many homosexuals who are chaste, meaning they can be a in a state of grace, Catholic, and homosexual all at the same time. They do not define themselves by what their genitals are up to. You seem to think such people are imaginary, which is rather prejudicial on your part.

  • FX2011

    The pastor of this parish should be forced to make a public apology. Last time I checked, the Code also said that Catholics “must” have an ecclesiastical funeral. Theologically, we believe that the funeral Mass is offered for the repose of someone’s soul. My only question is: has this pastor denied a funeral Mass for hetrosexuals who were living common law? In my wide experience, I am also not aware of any bishop who has denied (albeit private) funeral Masses for priests guilty of delicts.

    • Margaret

      NOT true. There were some news-worthy funeral-denials of Mafia bosses in the New York area a while back, precisely because the men in question had publicly embraced a lifestyle and line of work totally contrary to Catholic morals.

      • Patrick

        So just gays and mobsters?

    • Curious

      This man already openly excommunicated himself from the Church. This man openly with his actions and voice turned against God. If God is going to have mercy on this man’s soul on his judgement day, the funeral would not have served the purpose for this. The man would have needed to partake in the Sacrament of Reconcilliation and then lived his remaining life with God and not against God. This priest was only carrying out what this man had put into place already, excommunication of himself on a public level. God Bless

  • Patrick

    As a very devout Catholic who goes to church every week, this makes my heart hurt a great deal. I don’t expect a complete embrace from the Church, but I expect to be treated with basic dignity – dignity that God, by His infinite grace, placed in each and every one of us.

    I sincerely hope I don’t have to see stories like this ever again.

    • Beth Lemer

      amen. This is a funeral for a soul, not a wedding. A funeral mass for a baptised catholic to go to heaven. Who are we do deny him prayer to get into heaven. Sad day indeed!

    • Bruce

      Note to Patrick, and everyone else on the planet, that whenever a post or comment starts with “As a [insert whatever here]” you can guarantee that this person is not what they claim, or is going to say something bizarre or silly. Yes, mercy is open to all, Patrick, including sodomites who repent of their sins and commend their lives to God’s mercy. But for those who obstinately persist in their sins, such as sodomy, God cannot extend His mercy. It is up to us, Patrick, as to whether or not we accept His love and mercy. If this man refused to repent, there is nothing the Church can do. If you don’t want to see stories like this again, then you better get your butt out there and evangelize/convert homosexuals to live chaste lives. If you’re not willing to do so, then you’re just as responsible if this happens again.

      • Dan

        Bruce, you are not living out the Heart of Christ. Be open to mercy and learn that Christ will judge you on the last day. Change your ugly hatred into love.

        • Bruce

          Oops, Dan, you just condemned someone. Silly you. Its okay though, I forgive you. 😉 Anyway, there is no “hatred” or “ugliness” in what I have written, only the truth, which comes from Christ and His Church…unless you think He is ugly and hateful, in which case I cannot help you.

        • Dave

          Dan, you’re doing the exact same thing you’re (wrongly) accusing Bruce of doing, namely, judging people. In your self-righteous ire, you’ve failed to grasp a major point: It is NOT “hatred” to call a spade a spade and say that wrong behavior is exactly that. But it IS hatred to pretend like wrong behavior is just fine. It’s hatred because it doesn’t help lead people to heaven but rather to hell. What is love? Is it letting them speed unhindered down the wide, easy road to hell, or is it trying to turn them from that path? Christ established His Church not to make people “feel good” but to guide them to heaven!

      • Patrick

        I claimed to be devout, I didn’t claim to be perfect. I attend mass every week, I pray regularly, I find my daily strength in God, I live a chaste life, and I do my best to be a model of good Catholic teachings as often as I can. Am I perfect? No, of course not. Far from it. So are you. However, I will proudly and confidently state that I am intensely devoted to my faith.

        I would bet large amounts of money that you don’t expect all categories of sinners to go out and evangelize people of their kind lest they be responsible for the future sins. Why the special disdain for homosexuals? Why the special disdain for me, a Catholic man struggling with my sin who is on a Catholic website for the very purpose of strengthening my faith? You should be welcoming me and others into the fold and not callously dismissing us.

        • Dave

          Patrick, you say, “Why the special disdain for homosexuals? Why the special disdain for me, a Catholic man struggling with my sin who is on a Catholic website for the very purpose of strengthening my faith?”

          What disdain? Where has anybody on here shown disdain for you? Where has anybody on here shown disdain for ANYONE, for that matter? Nowhere! So kindly lose your defensive attitude and quit looking for others’ alleged “disdain” because if you look hard enough for something, you’ll inevitably find it — even if it’s merely your perception and not reality.

          • Patrick

            Dave, there’s disdain in the way that many in this message board callously and dismissively divorce this deceased man from the Catholic Church. Compare the “meh, his own fault” attitude in this conversation to the prayers and love found in the conversation regarding another sinner, a man whose sin fell into a different category:


          • Dave

            There’s a difference between the individual described in the above link and the one who’s the subject of the above article. The former is alive but suffering from cancer, and everyone is praying for him that he may renounce his atheism and embrace Christ and His Church. As for the latter, it’s too late for him, as he’s dead. Now all we can do is pray for the repose of his soul — if he’s in purgatory, at least. True, he could’ve repented at the last moment, and it would be great if he did. But we can’t possibly know that for sure. It doesn’t matter that this guy’s sin was practicing and/or promoting the homosexual lifestyle; if he was a notorious public sinner in any other way, the Church would’ve responded THE EXACT SAME WAY. I don’t know where you get the idea that the Church would’ve been more lenient had he been an open serial adulterer, cohabitator, murderer, thief, etc. In addition, you don’t seem to understand that supporting the refusal of the Church to offer a funeral Mass for this man is NOT unmerciful. Rather, it’s the Church’s way of telling the faithful that his lifestyle (which was open for all to see) was in direct violation of God’s laws. It’s not a condemnation to hell but rather a means of teaching the faithful, especially those who might be led astray by his actions.

    • Guy Who Makes Perfect Sense

      “As a devout atheist and liberal marxist, I believe in God and am a practicing Catholic and conservative capitalist.”


    Dear Thomas ~ All I can say is God bless the pastor and staff of whichever church in San Diego opened it’s doors and thier hearts to this man’s family in thier time of sorrow. Pax, Greg

    • Bruce

      Since when are you the arbiter of Church policy on funerals?



Receive our updates via email.