Thursday, June 30, 2011

Church Refuses Funeral for Deceased Gay Church Member

This is one of those stories that I wish I knew more about.  John Sanfilippo died last week.  Here are some of the things that I know about his life.  He was a member of Our Lady of the Rosary in Little Italy "for decades".  He is survived by, among other people, his partner of 28 years.  He loved his church enough to leave "a large sum of money in his will".  Lastly, the church felt so connected to its longtime member that it canceled his funeral:
A funeral service for a gay parishioner that was canceled by a Catholic church will be allowed to take place, according to the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego. The church, however, has not communicated the decision change to either the family of the deceased man or the media...

This past weekend, Sanfilippo's partner of 28 years and Sanfilippo's family were notified that the church canceled the funeral because Sanfilippo was gay. Friend Patrick Cannon told 10News, "The fact that they're now turning their backs on him is a… sad thing."

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. "Are there going to be others that are going to be denied in the future? Will we have to go through this again?" asked Ramirez...

In an email, Rodrigo Valdivia, the chancellor of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego, told 10News, "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."

Ramirez said the statement was proof the parish was acting alone and the diocese needs a diocese-wide policy so a similar situation does not happen again.

But after a hurtful rejection, it appears Sanfilippo's family has moved on. "From what I'm told, they don't want it there now," said Thomas. Ramirez said Sanfilippo's family had already found another Catholic church for the funeral. Ramirez said the family would not feel comfortable going back to Our Lady of the Rosary after what happened.

No one from Our Lady of the Rosary was available for comment.
This is what I don't get.  1. What kind of decades-long relationship did this man have with his church that they would cancel his funeral in the midst of planning?  2. What kind of decades-long relationship did this man have with his church that he would feel called to leave money to them in his will, but they would still cancel his funeral in the midst of planning?  3. What kind of church is this that would accept a cash donation from a man and yet they'd cancel his funeral in the midst of planning?  4. Lastly, will the church give back the donation?

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