Randy Engel
The life and times of Archbishop John R. Quinn & friends: A study of the West Coast homosexual network, Part III
Archbishop Quinn undermines Church teachings
By Randy Engel
June 12, 2023


It is a common myth among Catholic pew sitters that the harm caused by habituated clerical sodomites only affects the moral sphere, but do not affect their actions in other areas of ecclesiastical life, that is, you can be an active homosexual and still be a good bishop or a good religious superior. This segment on Quinn’s theological and political opinions and actions demonstrates just the opposite and it support St. Peter Damian’s belief that the vice of sodomy ultimately poisons everything it touches.[1]

Quinn’s Liberal/Modernist Agenda

As noted in Part II of this series, Archbishop Quinn was among the earliest members of AmChurch’s hierarchy to recognize that AIDS could become a cash cow for the San Francisco Diocese’s Catholic Charities, and it was for many years until illegal immigration took its place.[2]

The Quinn CommissionNuns in Rebellion

On Easter Sunday, April 3, 1983, Pope John Paul II appointed Archbishop Quinn as Pontifical Delegate for Religious Life in the United States. One month later, the Vatican’s Congregation for Religious issued Essential Elements in the Church’s Teaching on Religious Life as Applied to Institutes Dedicated to Works of the Apostolate, which, together with the post-Conciliar decrees on religious life, and the new Code of Canon promulgated on January 25, 1983, were intended to serve as guidelines for the three-member Quinn Commission.[3] Essential Elements also officially brought to an end the period of “experimentation” in religious orders mandated by Paul VI seventeen years earlier.

The Final Report of the Quinn Commission presented to the Holy See in October 1986 turned out to be a dud – a whitewash – and an expensive one at that. As for Essential Elements, it was quickly dismissed by the heads of the Leadership Conference of Woman Religious (LCWR) as being alien to the lived experience of the American sister.[4]

This writer has no doubt some members of the feminist/lesbian entourage of the LCWR knew of Archbishop Quinn’s homosexuality, so that the chances of the Quinn Commission taking up the issue of female homosexuality and sexual abuse in convents and houses of religious was never discussed, and to this day, has never been a subject for discussion at the USCCB annual November meeting in Washington, D.C.

Quinn On “Homo” Sex Education

On November 14, 1990, at the annual fall meeting of the USCCB in Washington, D.C. the American bishops approved a 185-page sex initiation program for minors in Catholic schools titled “Human Sexuality: A Catholic Perspective for Education and Lifelong Learning.”[5]

Homosexual bishop Kenneth Untener of Saginaw, Michigan. opened the debate with a commentary on why the arguments against artificial contraception by married couples is not “compelling.”

In the section of the text dealing with homosexuality, Cardinal John O’Connor of New York and Bishop Raymond Lessard of Savannah, Georgia, attempted to add an amendment with language taken from the 1986 Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith pastoral letter, On The Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons.”[6] that is, “a homosexual orientation is ‘objectively disordered.’”

Homosexual Auxiliary Bishop Peter Rosazza of Hartford, Connecticut, whined that this phrase had “caused untold damage in the homosexual community.”

Archbishop Quinn agreed with Rosazza, and shortly thereafter, the O’Connor-Lessard amendment was defeated. Then a substitute amendment concocted by Quinn and homosexual Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago and Oscar Lipscomb of Mobile, Alabama, was offered to the assembly and quickly passed. The approved amendment claimed that a “homosexual orientation in itself, because not freely chosen, is not sinful.”

The only real hero in the room was Auxiliary Bishop of New York, Bishop Austin Vaughan who supported Catholic parents opposing classroom sex initiation programs. He called for the sex program to be returned to the USCCB Committee on Education and warned the bishops that Catholic parents were pulling their children out of parochial schools because of these salacious sex programs, but few members of the hierarchy were listening. His amendment was promptly defeated and ““Human Sexuality:A Catholic Perspective for Education and Lifelong Learning, ”went on its way to destroy the innocence and chastity of yet another generation of Catholic school children.[7]

Ex Corde Ecclesiae Rejected

In May 1999, four years after his retirement as Archbishop of San Francisco, at the Spring meeting of the USCCB, Quinn openly called for the rejection of the apostolic constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae, the Holy See’s guidelines for maintaining Catholic identity at Catholic colleges.

Pope John Paul II’s controversial document was held to be a rebuttal and rejection of the Land O'Lakes Statement, a 1967 position paper adopted by the participants of a seminar sponsored by the University of Notre Dame on the role of Catholic universities. According to the National Catholic Register editor Patrick Reilly, the Statement “adopted a radical notion of academic freedom, embraced relativism and political correctness, and largely abandoned the project of forming young people for Christ outside the classroom.”[8]

The reader will note that in his retirement, Quinn held the John R. Chair of Roman Catholic Theology at the University of San Diego in 2001 and 2002. Faithful Catholics living in San Diego have reported to this writer that the University founded by Bishop Francis Buddy in 1937, which currently advertises that it is “infused with contemporary Catholic values,”[9] has been a theological and moral cesspool and blight on Catholic education for many years.

It is difficult to really get inside of Archbishop Quinn’s liberal mindset in the brief examples presented above, but I believe the next two case detailed studies on Quinn’s undermining of Humanae Vitae and the Papacy serve to demonstrate the cleverness and forethought that Quinn invested in matters which were and continue to be of critical importance to the Church.

Bernardin and Quinn Undermine Humanae Vitae

At the Fifth General Assembly of the World Synod of Bishops in Rome, held from September 26 – October 25, 1980, on “The Role [Tasks] of the Christian Family in the World of Today,” the then Archbishop Joseph L. Bernardin of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati was the first speaker on Monday morning, September 29th to float an anti-Humanae Vitae trial balloon that would pave the way for Quinn’s later attack on the encyclical.

In his official “intervention,” as recorded in the weekly edition of the L’Osservatore Romano for October 6, 1980, Bernardin,[10] insisted that the Catholic Church needs a “more positive theology of sexuality” not to replace the Church doctrine, but to make it understandable. He called human sexuality a “gift from God,” and stressed the necessity of recognizing its “relational power” and “social dimension.” “The development of a positive approach to sexuality,” he said, would make it more feasible to situate such matters as premarital sex, homosexuality and contraception within traditional Catholic teachings.

Archbishop Quinn, as President of the National Conference of Catholic Bishop (NCCB), followed Bernardin with a 14-page intervention[11] arguing in favor of reopening for “dialogue,” the papal teaching on contraception in Humanae Vitae (1968), presumably “for the purpose of relaxing its binding force on those Catholics who practice contraception, and on those theologians who refuse to accept the fact that it against the moral law.”[12]

The Bernardine and Quinn presentations were obviously coordinated.

Quinn argued, like Bernardin, that it was necessary to create a new context to situate the Church’s teaching on contraception – “a context that should be formed by a more complete treatment of the Church’s doctrine on the responsible transmission of life and her doctrine on human sexuality.”

Further he stated that “the Holy See should initiate a dialogue with theologians on the problem created by, and the experience of the Church, since Humanae Vitae.” And finally, that the Holy See needed “to improve the process for writing and communicating magisterial documents, so that they will be comprehensible to the people of our times.”

Although Quin claimed that both he and the NCCB stood behind Humanae Vitae, it was clear that he was on a deep sea fishing expedition to undermine the principle point of the encyclical – “that each and every marriage act (quilibet matrimonii usus) must remain open to the transmission of life.”[13]

Quinn Says He Was “Misunderstood”

The backlash against Quinn’s proposal by Vatican officials and many Church fathers attending the Synod was quick in coming.

On Thursday, October 2nd, Archbishop Quinn accompanied by Archbishop Robert Sanchez of Santa Fe held a press conference in the basement of the USO n the Via della Conciliazione in order that Quinn might explain away the universal presses’ mistaken notion that he and the NCCB were advocating for a change in Church [and God’s] doctrine in favor of contraception.

According to Philip Trower, The Wanderer reporter covering the Rome press conference:

    Throughout the conference, Archbishop Quinn looked not a little nervous. But the conference was a low-key affair. There were only aboutb30 reporters present, the microphones did not seem to have been switched on, and the reporters were kind, most of them did not ask any really embarrassing questions.[14]

It is not without a sense of irony and disgust that I close this segment with a sad reminder to the reader, that, of the members of the American hierarchy attending the 1980 Synod on the Family, at least two, Bernardin and Quinn, were active homosexuals, and Archbishop Sanchez, who was present at the Quinn press conference, was forced to resign in 1993 when it was revealed that he had sexual relations with at least 11 women, including at least three teenagers, one of whom was paid $25,000 in hush money by the diocese for an alleged rape.[15] Sanchez’s record of cover-ups of clerical sexual abuse of minors in the Santa Fe Archdiocese is equally chilling as is his statement that he didn’t realize that molesting children is a crime.[16] Surely this line-up must be something of a record for contemporary Vatican scandal sheets.

Quinn on the Reform of the Papacy

On June 29, 1996, only seven months after his resignation, the Archbishop Emeritus of San Francisco gave a lengthy radical lecture titled “The Claims of the Primacy and the Costly Call to Unity,” at the Jesuit Campion Hall, Oxford, England. The controversial speech which gained world-wide notoriety promotes the “democratization,” of the Catholic Church by designing and implementing a Church constitution – a plan similar to that currently being proposed by liberal “Syndodal” factions in the Church.[17]

Quinn stated that in the upcoming new millennium, the Catholic Church will be faced with an “exacting and costly new situation,” that is, the necessity of Church reform to achieve Christian unity as alluded to by Pope John Paul II in his “revolutionary”encyclical Ut unium sint – On Commitment to Ecumenism [which must pervade everything in the Church].[18]

In truth, Quinn advocates for a “a new Papacy” and “a new Church,” rather than any real and necessary reform of the Papacy or Church,” along the lines of other earlier “progressive” Church leaders like the French Dominican Yves Marie Cardinal Congar, the German Jesuit Father Karl Rahner, Belgium Cardinal Leo Suenens, and yes, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI.

In 1999, New York publishers Herder and Herder published Quinn’s work by the same title, “The Reform of the Papacy.” Luckily, the traditionalist Catholic writer, Atila Sinke Guimarães of Tradition in Action, wrote a timely review of the book to help prod this writer’s memory.[19] The following quotes are taken from Guimarães’s excellent review titled “A New Papacy on the Horizon”:

    With this first chapter, Quinn clearly and calmly takes his revenge on those who accused him of defying John Paul II in his 1996 lecture. He seems to be saying: “You accused me of being revolutionary, and you’re right. I am. But see here, Pope John Paul II was revolutionary even before I was. Now what do you have to say for yourselves?” When one considers that the author was received by the Pontiff to accept The Reform of the Papacy, and if one assumes that John Paul II was aware of its contents, one can conclude that the Pope was giving his endorsement to the author’s interpretation of the revolutionary character of his Encyclical.

On the matter of “pernicious criticism” and “constructive criticism,” Guimarães notes:

    Quinn de facto admits both types of criticism in order to advocate the reform of the Papacy and the establishment of a “public opinion” in the Church. Authority would only be legitimate when it listens to the criticism of “public opinion.” Thus, according to the author, the essentially monarchic authority should be done away with – and another form of authority should be installed [a grassroots or essentially democratic authority].

In Chapter III, Quinn examines the Papacy and collegiality in the Church:

    Collegiality is understood by the author as an essential participation that the ensemble of the Bishops would have in all the powers of the Pope. The central argument employed by Quinn and other progressivists could be summarized like this: With Vatican II “the Bishops of the world became convinced that the strong centralization wrought by Rome had to be balanced by a clear teaching on collegiality” (p. 82). Centralization would be an evil. Based on this presumption, Quinn goes on to suggest changes in the distribution of powers in the Church. In this chapter, he argues that collegiality should be introduced to remedy the “evil.”

Guimarães does an excellent job of distinguishing between the powers Christ gave to the Apostles and their successors and the special powers given to Peter, and succeeding popes:

    The Pope has three powers: the power to sanctify, the power to teach and the power to govern. Each of these powers has special characteristics.

    The power to sanctify is the power to administer the Sacraments. It is, therefore, the power to confer the Sacrament of Holy Orders (to consecrate Bishops and ordain priests), to say the Mass, and to administer the other six Sacraments. …

    This power was conferred by Our Lord equally on all the Apostles and to their successors, the Bishops. For this reason, the Pope has the same power to sanctify as the other Bishops. However, the Bishops must obey the Pope, not because of the power to sanctify, but by reason of the power to govern (emphasis added). In fact, by this power to govern the Bishops are chosen and established in their Dioceses. Their obedience is required in order to maintain the unity needed to discipline the Church. I do not see any reason to apply collegiality to the power to sanctify, because as such the Pope and Bishops have essentially the same power.

    The power to teach was also conferred upon the twelve Apostles. However, it was conferred upon Peter over and above the others. For this reason, when the Pope speaks as the Universal Pastor and Doctor of the Church, he is infallible. …

    The Pope’s power to govern is the most decisive. It includes the supreme power to act, legislate, judge, and punish (emphasis added). Traditionally, the Pope delegates most of the exercise of these powers to innumerable intermediary bodies of the Church – the Roman Congregations and the other Vatican Dicasteries: Tribunals, Pontifical Councils, Administrative Bodies, Special Committees, etc. He also traditionally delegates powers to Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, Nuncios and Apostolic Delegates outside the Vatican. He reserves to himself the power to make final decisions or judge extraordinary cases. …

    This wise system of government caused the Catholic Church to transform herself into the human institution most cognizant of reality. This is the opposite of a supposed exaggerated centralization that Quinn is criticizing. The system of government established in the Church is feudal – in the best sense of the word. That is, it is the wisely constituted government of the head over the body. This centralism has nothing of evil in itself, it is the normal centralism of the head in relation to the rest of the body that permits the head to direct the whole well. To want to “reform” the present system in the Church in order to make the head equal to the body, would be the same as trying to transform the Church with her divine-human likeness of the body and soul of Our Lord Jesus Christ into a slug or jellyfish, a type of mollusk where the head and body are indistinguishable. …

Guimarães approaches all of Quinn’s other proposals and arguments for “reform” of the Papacy with the same exactness and clearness for which he is deservedly well known. His conclusion is mine also:

    In his conclusion, Msgr. Quinn reveals the key for his desired reform. It would be to transform the Church into an organism governed by “directed autonomy.” And he would make the Papacy fit into this structure. From what I could understand of this new formula, it would not be much different from the self-management that is being installed everywhere today – in the business place, the school, and the family. Now this self-management, according to Quinn’s proposal, should also enter the Church.

    Self-management, according to the constitution of the old U.S.S.R., is the final ideal of Communism (5). Consistent with Hegel’s philosophical laws (thesis, antithesis, and synthesis), which were transposed by Marx onto society (dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, dictatorship of the proletariat and the final synthesis), self-management would be the equivalent of the final synthesis after the dictatorship of the proletariat. It is interesting that after Communism has entered a different phase and in a certain way has changed its face, the progressivist Church is striving to adapt itself to this important “sign of the times.”[20]

How to Destroy an Archdiocese

Two years before Archbishop Quinn retirement in December 1995, the intrepid The Wanderer reporter Paul Likoudis in his column “From the Mail,” reported on “The Incredible Shrinking Church” in the Archdiocese of San Francisco.”[21]

According to Msgr. Peter Armstrong, the cleric in charge of the archdiocese’s reorganization of its churches, schools, and “spiritual services,” We could evangelize better if we cut ten (later nine) parishes and merged our resources (emphasis added). Likoudis retorted with his usual wit, “Do they believe Catholics are that gullible?”

Among the magnificent churches scheduled to close were St. Joseph’s on Howard Street, Holy Cross on Eddy Street, Notre Dame des Victoires on Bush Street, and Sacred Heart on Filmore.

Readers note that Most Holy Redeemer was not on the closing list.

According to Don Lattin, reporter for The San Francisco Chronicle, total Mass attendance on Sunday had dropped from 120,000 in 1962 to 44,000 in 1992. Since there were near 400,000 Catholics living in the archdiocese in 1992, that means that roughly nine out of ten Catholics didn’t go to Mass on Sundays, Likoudis reported.

Paul Likoudis, who lost his battle with cancer on September 22, 2016, ended his commentary with the same question I do today – “Amid the sadness, there is a great irony in this story. Archbishop John Quinn is – or was – one of the standard-bearers of the liberal American Church, and after 16 years in San Francisco, what is his legacy? An incredible shrinking church.

Nuff said.

(To be continued)


[1] The Letters of Peter Damian Letters 31-60, translated by Owen J. Blum, O.F.M., The Fathers of the Church, Mediaeval Continuation, Catholic University of America Press, Washington, D.C., 2005, pp. 30-31.

[2] See Welcoming the $tranger: What's Really Motivating the USCCB on Immigration & Refugees? – OnePeterFive. Also Trafficking, illegal immigration and the Catholic Church – The Lepanto Institute (lepantocatholicgifts.com). The Church has received over $2 billion dollars in federal grants since 2012, a large portion of which has gone to fund the resettlement of illegal aliens in the U.S.

[3] Carey, “The Quinn Commission Examines Religious Life,” pp. 211 – 233. http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccscrlife/documents/rc_con_ccscrlife_doc_31051983_magisterium-on-religious-life_en.html.

[4] See Randy Engel’s three-part Kindle series of “Sisters in Rebellion at Sisters in Rebellion – Kindle edition by ENGEL, RANDY. Religion & Spirituality Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

[5] Jerry Filteau, “Church has credibility problem re sexuality,”Catholic News Service, November 26, 1990.

[6] Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons (vatican.va).

[7] Randy Engel, “Sex Abuse in Catholic Schools- The Evolution of Sex Instruction in Catholic Schools from Becoming a Person to Theology of the Body ,” Catholic Family News, August 2012.

[8] See ttps://cardinalnewmansociety.org/land-o-lakes-statement-caused-devastation-50-years/.

[9] About the University of San Diego – University of San Diego.

[10] Randy Engel, “The Special Case of Cardinal Bernardin,” The Rite of Sodomy, New Engel Publications, Export, PA, 2006, pp. 889-917.

[11] The full text of Ouinn’s lengthy intervention, “Contraception: A Proposal for the Synod,” was reproduced in the Catholic Advance, October 9, 1980 as a NC Documentary.

[12] John J. Mulloy, “Bishop Quinn Answers Archbishop Quinn,” The Wanderer, October 23, 1980, p.4.

[13] See Humanae Vitae (July 25, 1968) | Paul VI (vatican.va), 11.12.

[14] Philip Trower, “Archbishop Quinn’s Press Conference,” The Wanderer, October 14, 1980

[15] Archdiocese of Santa Fe NM – BishopAccountability.org (bishop-accountability.org).

[16] The Secrets of Archbishop Sanchez Disgraced Ecclesiastic's Testimony Finally Released (bishop-accountability.org).

[17] Library : The Claims of the Primacy and the Costly Call to Unity | Catholic Culture. The text is followed by a commentary of the Quinn lecture by other members of the hierarchy.

[18] Ut Unum Sint (25 May 1995) | John Paul II (vatican.va).

[19] See The Reform of the Papacy – review by Atila Guimaraes (traditioninaction.org).

[20] From Guimarães’ concluding endnotes: In the Preamble of the Soviet Constitution, one can read: “The supreme objective of the Soviet State is the construction of a classless Communist society in which the social communist self-management will be able to develop” (Constitución – La Ley Fundamental de La Unión de las Repúblicas Socialistas Soviéticas, October 7, 1977, Moscow: Editorial Progreso, 1980, p 5).

[21] “From the Mail,” The Wanderer, September, 1993.

© Randy Engel


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Randy Engel

Randy Engel, one of the nation's top investigative reporters, began her journalistic career shortly after her graduation from the University of New York at Cortland, in 1961. A specialist in Vietnamese history and folklore, in 1963, she became the editor of The Vietnam Journal, the official publication of the Vietnam Refugee and Information Services, a national relief program in South Vietnam for war refugees and orphans based in Dayton, Ohio... (more)


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