Sacramento: Bp. Soto speaks truth in charity to homosexual group

I am happy to report that more and more bishops are being bishops… and publicly too!

Give this a few moments of your time, from California Catholic.

My emphases and comments.

“At least five members of the audience walked out”

Bishop Soto stuns national homosexual ministries conference

(Editor’s Note: For the complete text of the bishop’s speech, see related story in today’s edition, “It is sinful.”)

When two Catholics from Southern California learned that Sacramento Coadjutor Bishop Jaime Soto was to be the keynote speaker at the National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministries conference in Long Beach on Sept. 18, they decided to attend themselves to see and hear the talk in person. They say what they witnessed was a bishop who “courageously but gently” gave a clear presentation of Church teaching on sexuality.

After California Catholic Daily reported on Bishop Soto’s plans to attend and speak at the conference (“Birds of a feather?” Sept. 15, 2008), many readers expressed disapproval or worry over how to interpret the soon-to-be Bishop of Sacramento’s decision[I disapprove of people who complain when bishops address dissidents.  That’s what bishops are supposed to do, right?]  Bishop Soto will take over the diocese from retiring Bishop William Weigand on Nov. 30. The National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministries, based in Berkeley, is a network of local ministries that has the reputation of taking, at best, an ambiguous stance on the moral character of homosexuality and homosexual acts.

But there was nothing ambiguous about Bishop Soto’s remarks to the group. “Sexual relations between people of the same sex can be alluring for homosexuals, but it deviates from the true meaning of the act and distracts them from the true nature of love to which God has called us all,” Bishop Soto said. “For this reason, it is sinful. Married love is a beautiful, heroic expression of faithful, life-giving, life-creating love. It should not be accommodated and manipulated for those who would believe that they can and have a right to mimic its unique expression."  [No ambiguity.]

At least five members of the audience walked out during the bishop’s address. When he finished speaking, there was general silence — with only a very small number applauding. [I would love to have been there.]

The chairman of the conference then announced that the bishop would answer questions at a reception that would be held in another room. That led to widespread expressions of disapproval from members of the audience, who said they wanted to be able to express their responses immediately. It was agreed that those who wanted to speak would line up. The bishop was told twice by the chairman that he was free to leave if he wanted — or to stay and listen. Bishop Soto stayed and sat quietly listening to every response. [Excellent.]

A series of about eight speakers came to the microphone to express their unhappiness with what the bishop had said — and what they felt he had not said. One woman said, in essence, "We know what the Church says. What we wanted you to talk about is the value of our lived experience as lesbian women and gay men."  [?!?  Instead… he told them what they need to hear in charity.]

Two speakers — one man and one woman — thanked the bishop for his address and voiced their agreement with what he had to say.

While the audience members were responding to the bishop’s remarks, a board member of the National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministries came up to one of the tables in the room and said, "On behalf of the board, I apologize. We had no idea Bishop Soto was going to say what he said."


What an interesting event that must have been.

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  1. Cornelius says:

    I’m astonished that there is such a thing as a “National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministries.” How could an organization so named NOT be a hotbed of
    dissent from Church teaching?

    I fully agree that the Church can and should reach out to people so afflicted and lovingly encourage and support them in pursuing lives of chastity and holiness, but such
    an organization clearly has a centrifugal tendency to spin off into “gay” advocacy and
    poorly concealed attempts to normalize this deviancy. The response to this wonderful
    and courageous Bishop is evidence that this has already occurred in this group.

  2. TJM says:

    What a sheperd! Bishop Soto handled this sensitive issue in a very pastoral and kind manner WITHOUT flinching from telling his
    audience the truth. Per Multos Annos, Tom

  3. Bravo for bishops with guts!

  4. Jeff Pinyan says:

    I mean this with ABSOLUTELY no disrespect.

    They expected the bishop to talk about “the value of our lived experience as lesbian women and gay men”. What does that mean to them? I’m honestly and sincerely curious. Surely they didn’t expect the bishop to condone homosexual acts. Could they have wanted, possibly, to be confirmed in their courageous struggle to deal with their homosexuality in a life of chastity? To be strengthened to minister with love and compassion to other homosexuals who feel marginalized?

  5. Jeff: Surely they didn’t expect the bishop to condone homosexual acts.

    I am guessing that is exactly what they wanted. At the least, they didn’t want to be told that they were sinful.

  6. Howard says:

    As for “people who complain when bishops address dissidents” in the context of a conference or banquet, there is not only a long and sorry history to bear in mind, there is also this:

    Anyone who is so “progressive” as not to remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God; whoever remains in the teaching has the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him in your house or even greet him; for whoever greets him shares in his evil works. 2 John 9–11 (NAB)

    However, if Bishop Soto keeps this up, I don’t think he’ll have to worry about getting invitations to speak at dissident banquets.

  7. TNCath says:

    Hooray, Bishop Soto!!!! What a difference a bishop makes! Contrast this with what Bishop J. Terry Steib had to say a just three years ago. Perhaps this is more along the lines of what they wanted:

  8. Christabel says:

    This immediately reminded me of those words from St John\’s Gospel : “After hearing his doctrine many of the followers of Jesus said, “This is intolerable language. How could anyone accept it?” ”

    This cannot have been easy for Bishop Soto, and it cannot have been easy for his audience. I greatly admire him for truly speaking in charity, which is an extremely hard thing to do and to get right.

  9. Dan says:

    “Jeff: Surely they didn’t expect the bishop to condone homosexual acts.”

    Is there precedence for bishops condoning homosexual acts?

  10. Christian says:

    “…Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?”
    … As a result of this, many (of) his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.” See John 6:60-66.

    Granted, this is from the bread of life discourse, but my point is that Truth does not mean “easy.” Living our faith by the teachings of the Church requires one to obey those teachings. Those who hold on to their own ideas will have no choice but to leave Jesus and return to their former way of life (presuming they left it in the first place). But where Bishops teach the Faith, although it may be hard for some to accept, the flock under their care will hopefully realize what Simon Peter did – that only Jesus, through His Church, has the words of eternal life!

  11. JohnE says:

    Way to go Bishop Soto!

  12. Wow! This is great! Finally, a bishop addressing a major issue with charity, reason, and firmness. It’s great to see a bishop not only speak about it, but then give answer to responses. How often when we do hear bishops speak up, they just make a statement, but never bother to address the responses.
    May his example help influence other bishops to live up to their vocations.

    Deo gratias!

  13. RichR says:

    Is there precedence for bishops condoning homosexual acts?

    My hope is that the bishops will be more vigilant about the scourge of active homosexuality in the priesthood following the recent scandals. I wish that people would stop labeling it as “pedophilia” when we know that 80% of the victims were post-pubescent boys. IMHO, I think we should applaud this bishop for his boldness in facing up to this silent specter haunting the Church on many levels.

    Break the conspiracy of silence.

  14. RichR says:

    This bishop will get flack. I think there is a duty to support him in his resolve to stand up for Catholic teaching. Here’s his mailing address as per the diocesan website. A letter of support is always appreciated.

    Most Reverend Jaime Soto, Coadjutor Bishop
    Pastoral Center
    2110 Broadway
    Sacramento, CA 95818-2518

  15. Andrew says:

    Along the lines of RichR’s comments…the comments posted to the story on California Catholic’s website are overwhelmingly, in fact almost exclusively positive! Not only is it joyful news to hear of a bishop speak the truth in such a pastoral manner, but it’s even better to see his flock support him.

    Ad multos annos! Eis polla eti Despota!

  16. Volpius says:

    Well done Bishop Soto for preaching the truth in season and out of season, that showed a lot of courage and real leadership.

    “a board member of the National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministries”

    This board member needs to not be a board member any more or they need to remove the word Catholic from their name.

  17. Ken says:

    “Is there precedence for bishops condoning homosexual acts?”

    Dan, be thankful you do not remember Theodore Cardinal McCarrick:

  18. Diane says:

    I’m sure his excellency is getting some local hate mail. Perhaps we should send him some letters of thanks for truth in Catholic teaching and courage. While many in attendance probably don’t see it that way, the bishop committed an act of love by accepting the invitation and preaching the truth. My prayer are with the bishop and all to whom his message was directed.

  19. EJ says:

    Jeff – it is the only way for these oddball groups and organizations to further their agenda without forcing the hierarchy come down on them for their heterodox intentions. With the exception of groups like Courage and Fr. Groeschel’s ministry to homosexuals, I know of no other orthodox homosexual outreach group that reaches out to these persons in the light of the Church’s teachings. Beware of most of these support and “ministry” groups whose mantra seems to be “it’s not dissent if we mask it well enough” and far too many pastors, rectors, and bishops are happy to turn a blind eye and play along. This happens among homosexual groups and Catholic circles all over the United States. Most large cities have a distinct neighborhood that is popular among homosexual persons – it is very typical for the Catholic parish located in those neighborhoods to offer “gay-friendly” liturgical services and “pastoral activities.” In my city, the parish church that is in the heart of this neighborhood happens to also be our archdiocese’s cathedral, which is the “gay-friendliest” church in the area. The Sunday evening Mass is full of homosexual couples that attend together. The homilies at this particular Mass are so feel-good and fuzzy, doctrinally deficient, and lukewarm so as to make certain that nobody would walk out offended (heaven forbid that the Church should present her teachings in her own churches). Last year there was a “social” specifically for gay and lesbian persons after this Mass, that was quietly announced in the bulletin and not from the pulpit. If you attend the cathedral earlier in the day, you will find very decent liturgy and homiletics, and even one Sunday morning Latin Novus Ordo – but the afternoon/evening Mass is a completely different experience – not as “in your face” as Call to Action or Dignity events, but veiled cleverly enough so as to not force a crackdown while still getting the agenda cleared through.

  20. Garrett says:

    I think all of us should write to Bishop Soto or his diocese’s website to express thanks and approval. These acts need to be encouraged, not shamed, like this board member tried to do.

    Here’s the relevant contact information:

  21. TJM says:

    I think there are bishops like Gumbleton who came pretty close to condoning homosexual acts probably because in their world view
    the worst sin is the sin of offending someone’s choices, no matter how misguided. Tom

  22. Jim Dorchak says:


    Who is this Bishop Soto?

    He can not be a Catholic Bishop.

    Come on…………

    Who has ever heard of a Catholic Bishop actually teaching, leading and correcting? This just does not happen in the VII world we live in (He offended these people{a mortal sin}). I think that there is a mistake here. Surely Bishop Soto knows he is not on board with what the Church “Really” teaches?

    Maybe it was just an impostor traddie who snuck in and was disguised as the good Bishop? This is down right scarry if it is true! Absloutly homeric, inpetuous. I just can not believe that this is a true story.

    If this is true, and the Bishop did say these things, then I (No Joke) fear for his life. The other Bishops, and other homos will be out to get him. I hope God protects him.

    Also I wonder if he will be asked to speak in L.A.?

    Jim Dorchak

  23. Gerard E. says:

    Such a dilemma. If we were at the Vatican, would we appoint Bishop Soto to the see of Los Angeles? Or Archbishop Chaput? So many fine clerics. So few megadioceses in need of thorough housecleaning.

  24. Dan says:

    I just called His Excellency Bishop Soto’s office in Sacramento and congratulated His Excellency on standing up for the Church’s teaching in condemning homosexuality.

    The number there is:

    God save and long live His Grace!

  25. Paul Murnane says:


    FYI. Bishop Soto is a former auxiliary in the Diocese of Orange. Also, he was definitely in the lions den as Long Beach is only just behind SF in the number of gays in our population.

    Great work by Bishop Soto. I really hope more Catholics in CA read his comments, particularly with regards to Proposition 8 (The California Marriage Protection Amendment); because they sure aren’t hearing it in parishes.

  26. Jim Dorchak says:

    Well Dan and Paul

    I used you advice and called his office as well 2:28 pm est. and they sent me through to his office to his secretary. I asked if he really gave the talk and she said he did.

    I told her that I just could not believe it, and she asked why? I told her that who has ever heard of a Catholic Bishop who actually stands up for the Church Teaching, and that I was stunned. I asked here for proof and she told me that he was there again.

    Maybe this is an anomoly?

    Maybe he was off his “A” game on the day he spoke?

    Is this a trend we are going to continue to see? Because if it is then there is a whole lot of shaking up going on.

    Jim Dorchak

  27. Jim Dorchak says:

    Oh come on Father Z ( Humor in my voice)

    It wa fun. They were blind sided and never expected that some one would call to thank him for what he said.

    The lady was laughing with me by time the call was over and the point was made.

    More people should call, it would make the point.

    Besides it was good for them. I think that many of the chanceries are too full of themselves and out of touch with the people they are there to serve.

    Jim Dorchak

  28. What courage!

    Kudos to the good bishop.

    I suppose these groups are looking more for “validation” and affirmation of their “lifestyle” choices, as well as talks which chastise the Church for being so behind the times and needing to catch up. A bishop is acts as a true spiritual father, calling all to holiness, including those with SSAD and active homosexuals (not always the same) is a welcome development in North America and the Catholic communion as a whole!

    God grant His servant, Bishop Soto, many happy and blessed years!

    Fr. Deacon Daniel

  29. Rachel says:

    This fills me with more hope for America that anything. God bless this faithful father.

  30. Jim Dorchak says:

    Hey Fr. Z

    Whats for dinner?

    Do you cook these treats yourself?

    I want some recipies.

    Jim Dorchak

  31. Phillip says:

    I am thankful for his excellency’s strong and true words which were said not to put down, but in charity. I am going to write the bishop and apologize for judging him to quickly. Several months ago, the same website, Cal Catholic Daily, which reported Soto’s speech had an article basically calling Soto pro-gay. It was about him being named coadjutor bishop, the heir apparent. Many, myself included, were worried about what would happen when bishop Wiegand retires. The worries and rants against Soto confined. Shortly before Soto gave the speech, the website ran an article entitled Birds of a feather, or other words to that effect, concerning Soto’s appearance and speech. In these articles you can see the comments which blast Soto as weak and “gay friendly.” I will apologize to his excellency, and ask for his pardon and blessing.

  32. Luke D. says:


    First, I think what you said was both spot on and hilarious at the same time. That said, surely “homo” is not a charitable word to use.

    Great follow up reading on this morally disordered (sinful) lifestyle (for anyone interested) is “When God Calls for an Undivided Heart.” The book is primarily about choosing a public, celibate life, but there are two very good chapters toward the middle of the book that both explains the root causes of homosexuality and ways to address it in an authentic Catholic way (i.e. stop your activity and seek a good confessor and spiritual director for guidance). There is a lot of guilt associated with this sin and it is not o.k. for us as Catholics to add to that burden, but it is not o.k. for us to dismiss it as acceptable, if not good, either. Kudos to Bishop Soto!

  33. Marta says:

    I actually work at the Diocesan headquarters here in Sacramento, and when sorting the mail I have noticed an increasing number of handwritten letters.. :) and I expect that to increase as this story circulates more, of course…(start writing!)

    On another note, not only is H.E. a courageous speaker, he can be pretty funny too! Somehow a good laugh from your bishop brings an extra glee to one’s day. Well rounded man, I would say.

  34. John Enright says:

    “a board member of the National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministries came up to one of the tables in the room and said, “On behalf of the board, I apologize. We had no idea Bishop Soto was going to say what he said.”

    No idea? He’s either a self-deluded idiot or his head is stuck in the sand. An analogous absurdity would be to invite Justin Cardinal Rigali to a pro-abortion rights rally and then express surprise when he resolutely condemns the evil act of killing babies.

  35. Ron says:

    This is good to hear and I hope it is an omen of things to come. Bishops have been implicitly condoning homosexual acts for decades. When Dignity was condemned, the predecessor of the current archbishop of Galveston-Houston complied with the demands of the Holy See … and then established a new, diocesan approved ministry for homosexuals that was simply Dignity by another name. When I was a student at the University of Texas in Austin, there was a similar ministry attached to the Catholic Student Center. The chaplain (who was himself a homosexual) told me that the bishop assured him that he was aware his “ministry” was not promoting chastity, but that as long as he exercized tact and discretion, he had his full support. Could you someone please offer me some insight into how these men become bishops in the first place? Does Rome really have no idea what is going on?

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