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.



  • zach b

    just another example that Christ is more merciful than his own church is. if we really trusted that Divine Mercy is what it proclaims to be, this wouldn’t be an issue and taping a request to answer the question “why” would not have been so blown out of proportion.

  • Davide

    Good Afternoon Tom, when I first read about this on another Catholic site I thought to myself: “oh boy here we go” I think some important questions must be asked. 1. Do we know for sure this man and his “partner” were having sexual relations the entire “28 years”? 2. Is it not possible he and his “partner” stopped their homosexual behavior then at some point in their “relationship” then they lived as roommates, no sexual activity. Is this possible? 3. Would this parish taken the same action against a heterosexual man under the same circumstances? 4. Do we know if the man that died made a last confession? Is it possible this man MIGHT have confessed his “homosexual” behavior of the past? If he had and a priest did not “bind” his sin but “absolved” his sin and the man “sinned no more” would he not be in a “state of grace” thereby making him eligible for a Catholic funeral? Is this not so? 5. What about a divorced man who has not had his marriage annulled and remarried than died-would he been denied a Catholic burial?-after all he had been living in adultery. I am not saying at all what this parish did was wrong. What I am saying mercy and justice must be equal for all. I want to point out homosexual “orientation” is not a sin. Homosexual “behavior” is. Clear cut difference. If I would get hit by a bus today and die I would have a Catholic funeral I am not in a state of mortal sin. Us “gay” Catholics also can have Catholic funeral Masses it is NOT reserved for only those of you who are “straight”. To say otherwise clearly goes against Church teaching, uncharitable and shows no honor. Thx

    • Dave

      Davide, every faithful Catholic on here knows very well that homosexual activity is sinful but that merely having a homosexual orientation is not. Everyone is called to be chaste, and I think it’s wonderful that you, as someone with same-sex attraction, strive for that. But it’s judgmental of you to assume that Bruce thinks that a homosexual orientation is in itself sinful or that it automatically means an individual isn’t being chaste. He never said such things!

      • Davide

        Dave for Saint Peter’s sake what in the world are you talking about? My comment was directed at Mr. Peter’s not “bruce”. I didn’t even read most of Bruce’s umpteen comments. I don’t come here to argue and try to prove my position. I come here to voice my opinion-no matters how lousy it is. Okay see you.

        • Dave

          I meant Tom Peters, not Bruce. Sorry! But I don’t know what you’re trying to get at in your most recent post. You claimed that people on here aren’t making the distinction between homosexual orientation and homosexual activity. And I’m telling you you’re mistaken. But you didn’t even address that part of my post.

  • Bruce

    So what is the rallying cry of the pride movement? “Forget the poor! Forget the sick! Forget the war! Forget the peace! Forget the country! Forget the world! Forget the children! Forget the Church and Forget God!”

    • Dan

      Wow, it’s cute to see your hatred Bruce. Also morbidly disturbing. You clearly aren’t Catholic. If you were anything even near Christian, you would not be so hateful and evil. Yes, I said evil, fully aware of the weight of that word. You clearly don’t know any gay people, or if you do, you condemn them to hell for being born a certain way. You clearly don’t care about souls, because love saves all. Look at a crucifix. I know, it’ll be hard for your black and ugly soul to see what true love looks like. But try it. Maybe, if you stop crucifying strangers for simply trying to find God, then maybe you can ask God to forgive you for the many times you have hated the children He died to bring to eternal life.

      • Bruce

        LOL, “hateful” for speaking the truth. Such a tired response. That is all “pride” parades are about, my dear Daniel. Their slogan is “look at me! I’m doing something naughty! Learn it, love it, live it…or be a bigot!” They care not for anything other than what tickles their groins. It is the culture of the crotch, where matters of stimulation take precedence over and above all else, including life itself. It is the epitome of tragedy, and one would have to be blind to see it any other way. To be proud of such disordered behavior is destructive, at best, and deadly at worst. And as for “knowing” homosexuals, methinks you must be new here, for you’re speaking to one who hath recovered from a lifestyle of sinful destruction.

        • Patrick

          Recovered? Or improved? Surely you don’t claim to be free of sin now.

      • Dave

        Dan, what you’ve just said is nothing but the proverbial pot calling the proverbial kettle black. For all your talk about not judging or hating others, you’ve just judged and shown rank hatred toward Bruce simply for speaking the truth — truth which you’ve shown yourself to be unable or unwilling to hear and accept. Your issue is not with Bruce but rather with God and His Church.

    • Patrick

      Bruce, why hasn’t this been your response:

      Seems to be a lot more Christian.

  • William Keane

    Whenever you see these stories in the paper you need to understand the media is giving you one side of the story in order to inflame passions. There are many reasons why one parish pastor may decline to conduct a funeral in his parish. One that I have seen priests argue about is eulogies. Some priests feel strongly that eulogies are not appropriate at funeral masses. Others don’t see the harm and allow them. My guess is the deceased’s “partner” wanted more than a standard funeral Mass and wanted to make a speech or give a eulogy and the priest didn’t want the Mass to end up being a circus where the sexual orientation of the deceased would become more important than the Mass which should focus on the soul of the departed.

  • Jeff

    While I am no canonist, I can’t help but note the following: Canon 1184, while stating who may be deprived of an ecclesiastical funeral, notes that they may not be deprived of said funeral if they gave some sign of repentance before death (such as having Last Rites performed, making an an act of perfect contrition or expressing a desire to die in a state of grace. While it is impossible for us to know if one of these occurred, based on this news story, chances are at least one of them did, since his death was not a sudden one. Also, this denial would seem to run counter to 1184:3, which is concerned with allowing funerals and causing a public scandal. The denial has caused a far greater scandal than if they had allowed it. And finally, since this issue was highly debatable, the local ordinary should have been consulted ( in accordance with Canon 1184 ). Since the dioces overturned the church’s decision, it seems unlikely that this consultation was performed. The church may have been trying to follow the canon’s letter, but they certainly violated it’s spirit.

    • Bruce

      When you can show that the Church is bound to follow the “spirit” of anything, Canon Law or Vatican II especially, let us know. Secondly, if the man repented of his homosexual behavior, then its all good. If not, then its not. Its pretty simple.

      • Jeff

        Bruce, please note that I used a lower case “c” in my above statement. I suppose that for the sake of clarity I should have placed the qualifier “parish” in front of church, but I thought it was obvious. Although, since the bishop was apparently not consulted on this the (parish) church didn’t appear to follow the letter of the law either. Feel better now?

        • Bruce

          I feel like a million smiling babies because Christ is risen. How about you?

  • B Kent

    “Now, because someone who lived a lifestyle deeply opposed to Christian morals…”

    Thomas, I AM a devout Catholic who believes in Church teaching about the purpose of sexuality but I heartily disagree with your characterization. “Deeply opposed to Christian morals” brings to mind abuse, lying, stealing, murder and even plain old mindless promiscuity. Or blasphemy. How about that one? None of which are implied by living a gay lifestyle. (They may be part of anyone’s lifestyle, gay or straight.)

    There are lots of things you could have said other than this kind of heartless jibe. You don’t know this man or the state of his conscience. And the bishop ultimately said it is right to bury him in the Church, too. So why so defensive? Why make those who are faithful to Church teaching look any more like you-know-whats than we are already stereotyped as? You have just proven that sometimes people who believe as the Church does about homosexual behavior ARE ALSO jerks.

    • Bruce

      LOL, another “as a devout Catholic” comment followed by clear evidence against being “a devout Catholic”. When are you, and others, going to realize that anytime you start a comment with this, you invariably lose all credibility?

      • B Kent

        How do I prove that I am not Catholic by telling Thomas he is talking like a jerk? Where in Catholic teaching does it say that we are to called to write things about other sinners in a snide way on our international platform? Where in Christian morality does it say to use sarcasm when we call the sinner to repent?

        I agree with Church teaching on sexuality. And when I researched more and found that he ran a gay bar, it seemed more justification for Thomas to write such a characterization — BUT he did not refer to that detail in his description of the story, and it is still terribly uncharitable way to talk about it, and he still comes off looking like a jerk instead of a light for truth. Do we not have any obligation to charity? Or is it ok to dispense with it once the sinner proves himself terrible enough (read, public in his sin, instead of hiding it like most people do). Are we responsible at all for when our way of defending the message makes us look terrible, and therefore casts a negative light on the message itself?



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