Firing of L.G.B.T. Catholic church workers raises hard (and new) questions

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Just a few weeks before Christmas, an official from the Archdiocese of Edmonton, in Alberta, Canada, placed a folder on a table in front of Mark Guevarra, a lay pastoral associate at a large parish just outside the city limits. Mr. Guevarra, who holds a master’s degree in religious education, says he was told that the archdiocese had been compiling bits of information on him for eight years, including filing away in the archbishop’s office complaints from clergy and lay people accusing him of being gay and of being in a relationship with another man. He says he was told that he could not look at the folder but that he was asked to confirm or deny the allegations. He refused, believing the inquiry to be unjust and overly intrusive.

Last Tuesday, he was fired from his post and told to clear out his office.

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Meanwhile, a teacher at a Catholic school in Miami returned to work last week, fresh from marrying her partner in the Florida Keys. Jocelyn Morffi was a first-grade teacher at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic School, where she also coached basketball and ran a volunteer organization called #teachHope70x70 that takes students around downtown Miami on weekends to distribute meals to the homeless. But rather than greeting her students after her time off, she says she was told that she had broken her contract, and she, too, was fired. She was not given the chance to gather her belongings herself, a parent of one her students says.

At least 80 people have been fired from Catholic institutions in cases related to sexual orientation over the past decade.

The two are just the latest church workers to be fired over issues of sexuality and marriage, clashes that have heightened in recent years as same-sex marriage becomes more mainstream even as the church holds the line on L.G.B.T. issues. According to New Ways Ministry, at least 80 people have been fired from Catholic parishes, schools and other entities in cases related to sexual orientation over the past decade—though they note that this figure is based only on individual cases that go public.

“With each new firing, the injustice of these actions becomes clearer and clearer to Catholic people in the pews,” Francis DeBernardo, the group’s executive director, told America. Mr. DeBernardo adds that the “singling out of L.G.B.T. church employees as the only group whose lives must be in full accordance with the hierarchy’s sexual ethics is blatant discrimination.

“While these actions hurt those that are fired and the communities they serve, they also hurt the church as a whole because our credibility as voices of justice is weakened, and our image as a community of love and compassion is destroyed.”

The Catholic Church in the United States does not have a national policy about L.G.B.T. employees.

The Catholic Church in the United States does not have a national policy about L.G.B.T. employees, many of whom lack non-discrimination protections because of religious exemptions extended to their employers. Even church leaders who have made calls for the church to be more welcoming to L.G.B.T. Catholics have resisted the idea of a uniform policy, preferring instead a case-by-case approach.

Cathleen Kaveny, who teaches both law and theology at Boston College, said that legally, many Catholic institutions are often well within their rights when it comes to hiring and firing based on issues related to sexual orientation. “But there are lots of things you can do that are legal and not wise,” she told America.

“Is this a prudent and charitable way of communicating the Catholic message, or is it something that’s going to make it harder to hear Catholic teaching and receive the good news?” she asked of the firings.

“There are lots of things you can do that are legal and not wise,” Cathleen Kaveny told America.

Mr. Guevarra wrote about his experience in a lengthy Facebook post published on his personal page last Friday. He said the investigation by the archdiocese began after he started a prayer group for L.G.B.T. Catholics.

“I was asked directly if I am in a relationship with a male and have a daughter. I refused to answer,” Mr. Guevarra wrote. He said he asked for a meeting with the archbishop of Edmonton, but the archdiocese decline the request. (Included in a packet of letters from his employer about his termination was a letter from an auxiliary bishop that extended an invitation to meet to discuss L.G.B.T. ministry, which Mr. Guevarra said he planned to accept.)

He said he would not answer questions about his personal life because the inquiry was too intrusive. Plus, he said other church workers do not face the same level of scrutiny when it comes to their personal lives, which he said is due to homophobia in the church.

Mr. Guevarra said the investigation by the archdiocese began after he started a prayer group for L.G.B.T. Catholics.

Ms. Kaveny echoed that sentiment, saying, “If you’re taking the church’s sexual ethic seriously, are you going to interview heterosexual couples to find out if they’re sleeping together before marriage or if they’re using birth control? Questions tend to fall unfairly on one group of people who may not be accepting Catholic sexual teaching in all its fullness.”

A spokeswoman for the archdiocese wrote in an email to America: “The Archdiocese does not surveil its employees or check on their personal lives. Unless we are advised otherwise, we assume that most people who come to work for the Church in any kind of leadership or teaching role are willing to live in accord with its teachings. However, if an issue is raised, the Archdiocese has a responsibility to look into it and deal with it.”

Mr. Guevarra said his firing “sends a damaging message to all L.G.B.T.Q. Catholics that they have no place in the church.”

According to a termination letter from the pastor of the parish, a copy of which Mr. Guevarra shared with America, he was let go because his relationship is considered “fundamentally inconsistent with the teachings of the Church insofar as it is not a marriage recognized by the church.” That relationship, the letter continued, made it “impossible” for him to carry out his job.

Mr. Guevarra said his firing “sends a damaging message to all L.G.B.T.Q. Catholics that they have no place in the church.”

In an interview with America, Mr. Guevarra said he worked well with the pastor of the parish, planning community events, hosting prayer groups and coordinating the R.C.I.A. program. He said he had tried to separate his private life from his parish work—he and his partner had even decided to forego marriage in part because of the church’s rules. But it eventually became too difficult for him to compartmentalize his life.

“So about a year ago, I started to disclose a little more that I was in a relationship. I felt it was the right thing to do, felt I needed to be a little more authentic in my life,” he said. That is when the pastor asked him to be more discreet, so he stepped back a bit.

Regardless, the investigation rolled on. At one point, he says he was asked by a church official about his “agenda.”

“Well, it’s the agenda of every baptized Christian,” he recalls telling the official. “It’s to go forth and make disciples of all nations.”

A spokeswoman for the archdiocese said in a statement, “Anyone who comes to work at the Archdiocese or one of its parishes agrees to live in accord with the teachings of the Catholic Church and its sacramental theology.”

“Anyone who comes to work at the Archdiocese or one of its parishes agrees to live in accord with the teachings of the Catholic Church.”

It continues: “It is particularly important, and understandable, that someone who serves in a leadership or teaching role in the church be a practising Catholic who lives in accord with its teachings. In human rights legislation, this is referred to as a ‘bona fide occupational requirement’ for a particular position.”

In the Florida incident, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese said in a statement that the teacher had broken her contract.

“As a teacher in a Catholic school their responsibility is partly for the spiritual growth of the children,” Mary Ross Agosta said. “One has to understand that in any corporation, institution or organization there are policies and procedures and teachings and traditions that are adhered to. If something along the way does not continue to stay within that contract, then we have no other choice.”

But several parents say they were surprised and upset at Ms. Morffi’s firing, which they learned of in a letter from the school released on Feb. 8. About 20 parents went to the school the next morning to demand an explanation.

“I’m always going to be a Catholic,” Mr. Guevarra said.

“We were extremely livid. They treated her like a criminal, and they didn’t even let her get her things out of her classroom,” said Cintia Cini, the parent of one of the children in Ms. Morffi’s class. Ms. Cini told the newspaper the parents did not know Ms. Morffi was gay, but they did not care about her sexual orientation.

“Our only concern was the way she was with our children, the way she taught our children, and this woman by far was one of the best teachers out there,” Ms. Cini said.

She said the principal spoke to each of the parents but did not give a reason for the firing. According to The Washington Post, Ms. Morffi posted about her wedding on social media, which the archdiocese warned its employees against in 2015 after same-sex marriage was legalized in Florida.

Ms. Morffi could not be reached for comment, but on Friday she posted a statement on Instagram.

“This weekend I married the love of my life and unfortunately I was terminated from my job as a result,” it reads. “In their eyes, I’m not the right kind of Catholic for my choice in partner.”

As for Mr. Guevarra, now that he is no longer employed by the church, he said he is considering further theological studies, including a deeper exploration of L.G.B.T. ministry and perhaps even marrying his partner. He is also exploring legal options.

He said he has been heartened by words of encouragement from Catholics all around the world, and he made clear he is not leaving the church.

“I came to hear a subset in our Catholic family crying out for acceptance, and I decided to reach out to them. And as a result, I got fired,” he said. “But I’m always going to be a Catholic.”

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Chris Sullivan
3 months 1 week ago

It is my considered opinion that a couple getting a state same sex marriage does not contradict any Catholic doctrine because there is nothing in the vows made at such a state ceremony that is against any Catholic teaching. There may well be strong and perfectly legitimate reasons for chaste gay couples to get married eg access to health benefits for those seriously ill.

Bob Hunt
3 months 1 week ago

You have every right to your considered opinion. The Church, however, has an obligation to teach and act according to the revelation of God given to her by Christ.

Robert Lewis
3 months 1 week ago

"The revelation of God" given to the Church "by Christ" SUPPORTS the idea of two people living together chastely, in support of each other, as the commentator above has stated.

Bob Hunt
3 months 1 week ago

Please don't yell.

Two people living together chastely is not the same as marriage. Marriage implies sexual relations. There are all sorts of expectations regarding Catholic marriage. Suffice it to say, for the purposes of this discussion, that, while it is possible for a couple to willingly enter into a marriage with the intent of remaining sexually inactive (I don't use the word "chaste" here because couples who are validly married and remain sexually active and faithful to each other are also living chastely), and such a marriage would be valid, the Church (and everyone else, for that matter) has reasonable expectations that two people who willingly enter into what they call a marriage will be engaged in sexual acts. If they are not and never intend to be, than that individual case can be considered by the pastor. This is one of the reasons, as the article says, there is no national policy on how to handle these situations, but the bishops prefer that they be handled on a case-by-case basis.

Robert Lewis
3 months 1 week ago

Please refer to other articles here at AMERICA (I'm not "yelling"; there is no facility here for italicizing) on which I've commented regarding the very ancient Catholic and Anglican rite of "sworn brotherhood" (in Church, at altars, accompanied by Holy Communion, and commemorated, upon death, by many tomb effigies in chapels, monasteries and cathedrals all over Europe), in which two people of the same sex vowed permanent--and, yes, "chaste"--union with each other, until death. This form of "same-sex-union" (not "Holy Matrimony") is attested to by the prodigious scholarship of one Alan Bray, in a book entitled THE FRIEND. I suggest that you and others who are discounting the possibility of the Church's ministering to gay Catholics in such a way as to "accompany" them, support them and provide for relief of their loneliness in old age should look into this once quite-established tradition (in the historic period before the pigeon-holing of everyone into "sexual orientations").

Nora Bolcon
3 months 1 week ago

Thank you for this comment. I have actually suggested something like this in other comments on LGBT articles on NCR and other Catholic media but had no idea it actually already existed. The only difference to what you described and what I recommended was where it is a union of same sex vowing to remain together, live together, witness Christ together, and forgoing matrimony with the opposite sex, it is probably best we just assume this type of sworn brotherhood or sisterhood is chaste without demanding that as a vow. Let there be acceptance of this type of union and its children (adopted or otherwise) and the church's only witness is to the couple's commitment not to marry anyone else, and to remain together, live and build a life together. This way the couple is able to discern with God any sexual aspect of the union without involving the church at all since no official vow of chastity was made in the church commitment.

This idea could even work with small groups of friends who really do wish to be chaste yet desire to commit as Christian brothers and sisters to live together in one household, and vow to a "death do we part community" while vowing never to marry. This is different than a monastery or convent since it includes both men and women living together in household and working as small groups of Christian Unity, growing as one family unit, serving together - even perhaps having a joint cause or calling in Christ together in the church.

Bob Hunt
3 months 1 week ago

Mr. Lewis, clearly I misunderstood your writing in all caps as yelling, based on prior experience. I apologize for the misunderstanding.

As I said in other posts, if you're going to argue that Mr. Guevarra's relationship was chaste, then by all means make that argument. Mr. Guevarra should have made that argument himself. The fact that there is nothing he said or did to suggest that the relationship was chaste, however, is why I think your argument is specious. Again, the pastor is responsible for addressing even the possibility of scandal.

It's not clear to me where I was "discounting the possibility of the Church ministering to gay Catholics in such a way as to 'accompany' them." In any case, I'm not familiar with Alan Bray so I can't speak to the authority of his scholarship, but the option of "sworn brotherhood" of two people of the same sex committing to each other in this sort of chaste relationship seems one that ought to be further considered as a possibility for gay Catholics who desire to live faithfully the gospel while at the same time assuring that they are not alone.

J Cosgrove
3 months 1 week ago

there is no facility here for italicizing

yes there is

Mike Theman
3 months 1 week ago

Great, now I have to figure that out. Trying this and this. He's right!

Robert Lewis
3 months 1 week ago

How do you do it?

Anne Danielson
3 months 1 week ago

The Catholic Church has always affirmed the Sanctity of the marital act, which is Life-affirming and Life-sustaining, and can only be consummated between a man and woman united in marriage as husband and wife. Respect for the Sanctity of human life from the moment of conception, and Respect for the Sanctity of the marital act, and The Sacrament of Marriage has always been a universal truth proclaimed by The Catholic Church. Christ performed His First Miracle at The Wedding at Cana.

Kevin Joyce
3 months 1 week ago

so every divorced person, or any person who marries or sleeps with a divorced ( not annulled) person should be fired?

Mary Therese LEMANEK
3 months 1 week ago

If the administration was authentic and consistent in its requirements that every employee be in FULL compliance with ALL teachings of the Church ~ they would be without employees at all.

Nora Bolcon
3 months 1 week ago

I think it stinks how we treat LGBT. A great teacher is fired, upsetting kids and parents, and everybody loses. We have got to stop this idiocy now.

It is interesting how our church's discrimination works out into reality. Women can't hide they are female and so can't be priests while gay men can hide their homosexuality, and so are now and have always been ordained priests but they probably never would have been able to be priests if they couldn't hide it. Heterosexual married and unmarried woman can hide the fact they use artificial birth control so aren't fired from their jobs while using these things but gay men who marry can't hide being actively gay so they are fired. Do both scenarios sound absurd to anyone else? Especially, since Jesus warned all of us not to judge or condemn unless we want to be judged or condemned.

Sometimes it seems the only thing our bishops find exciting is judging and condemning others. Then they ask where is everyone? Why are the pews empty? I can't believe one of these bishops fires a Lay Pastoral Associate and then slips in the letter with his pink slip, "Hey, interested in helping out with LGBT ministry?" Huh?????? Is anyone else confused? Maybe it is just me.

Bob Hunt
3 months 1 week ago

The Church has long made a distinction between private acts that contradict Church teaching and public acts that do so. No one wants to be or need be the "birth control police." If anyone chooses to live a public life (like same-sex marriage) or make public statements contradicting Church teaching and the mission of the Church, then he or she ought to be denied leadership and teaching positions in the Church. That's only common sense. Anyone with a homosexual orientation who is committed to living the moral life of the Church should never be denied the opportunity to serve the mission of the Church on that basis. It's when people take public positions, or public actions contrary to the mission of the Church that they must be prepared to face the consequences.

Jesus did not warn us not to judge or condemn immoral acts. He warned us not to judge or condemn people to eternal damnation, because that responsibility belongs to Him (Mt 25). Jesus did a lot of judging and condemning of acts that are immoral (Mt 5-7), and instructed His disciples to teach people to observe all He had commanded (Mt 28:19-20). The Church has always recognized her responsibility to admonish the sinner (Jas. 5:19-20). In fact, it's one of the spiritual works of mercy.

Frankly, I think we need more bishops who are willing to risk more empty pews, if that means greater fidelity to the gospel. Many walked away from Jesus when He spoke the truth, and He would not compromise the truth for the sake of numbers (Jn 6). Neither should we. I would personally rather have a smaller, more faithful Church than a larger one that kept her numbers up by compromising the gospel. But, I don't think compromising the faith to accommodate the culture is the solution to keeping people in the pews. Just ask the Episcopalians.

Robert Lewis
3 months 1 week ago

The first person mentioned above, Mr. Guevarra, did NOT commit "a public act that contradicts Church teaching"; instead, the local hierarchy conducted an inquisition of his PRIVATE life. According to the article, they STILL don't know if he was living in any kind of relationship other than, perhaps, a chaste partnership with another man. This is homophobic persecution of an individual simply for BEING gay, and it is disgusting!

Bob Hunt
3 months 1 week ago

Please don't yell.

Perhaps you missed the part where Mr. Guevarra said, “So about a year ago, I started to disclose a little more that I was in a relationship. I felt it was the right thing to do, felt I needed to be a little more authentic in my life." Mr. Guevarra decided to make his relationship public.

If you want to argue that Mr. Guevarra's relationship may have been chaste, then Mr. Guevarra can make that argument, and should have. The pastor, rightly or wrongly, had reason to believe that Mr. Guevarra's relationship was not chaste, and acted accordingly. Mr. Guevarra's subsequent actions tend to support the pastor's conclusion. Even still, Mr. Guevarra can appeal the pastor's decision if he so chooses, and argue that he should not have been fired because his relationship was chaste.

Vince Killoran
3 months 1 week ago

Why persist in instructing other commenters not to "yell"? I don't read any of their comments this way--perhaps you mean to malign them as being emotional, and present yourself as the voice of reason?

Those heterosexual employees who remarry without receiving an annulment should be summarily fired, right? What about straight employees who co-habitate? That would thin out the ranks considerably.

Bob Hunt
3 months 1 week ago

Things may have changed, but I have always understood, and was instructed as such at my place of employment, that we were not to write anything in emails, text messages, etc..., in all caps, as it would be construed as yelling. If Mr. Lewis didn't intend his writing in all caps to be construed as yelling, than I misunderstood and apologize for my misunderstanding. Perhaps he might consider apologizing for calling me a bigot, and perhaps you can encourage him to do so.

Yes, as I've said in at least two previous postings here, heterosexual couples who are divorced and remarried outside the Church and those living together without benefit of marriage should not be in positions of leadership or teaching in the Church. If that means firing them, then be that as it may. To fire employees who live openly gay lifestyles while keeping employed others who openly live contrary to Church teaching on marriage, which is the revelation of God in Jesus Christ, is inherently biased and unjust. No one who is living a public life contrary to Church teaching should be working in leadership or teaching positions for the Church.

I'm not in the least concerned about thinning out the ranks. Catholics get the Church they deserve. If they want a full house of people who don't give a hoot about fidelity to Christ and His gospel, then that is what they will get. If they want a Church of moral and pastoral integrity, dedicated to the gospel and committed to extending a credible witness to the world, then they will have to act accordingly. It's our call. But, whatever we decide, we will be held accountable. "When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?" (Lk 18:8b).

Vince Killoran
3 months 1 week ago

I suppose if a whole sentence was all in caps you might have a point, but usually it's a single word. Isn't that used for emphasis? In any case, you respond to several postings where there are no caps but you persist with the admonishment "Please don't yell."

I think the key issue here is your dismissal of fellow Catholics as not "giv[ing] a hoot about fidelity to Christ and His gospel." You--and the hard-nosed administrators serving up pink slips--have no sense of the complex lives of these people, or the pastoral care they are receiving. These modern-day public floggings are not "fidelity to Christ and His gospel."

BTW, your list of those people eligible for "the Bob Hunt" treatment should include Catholic employers who don't pay a living wage or honor the right of employees to form unions. These very public violations fly in the face of well-establish Catholic social teachings.

Bob Hunt
3 months 1 week ago

Mr. Killoran, I addressed Mr. Lewis' writing in all caps in a reply to him and apologized for my misunderstanding. Again, perhaps you could suggest to him that he apologize to me for calling me a bigot.

No, I did not ask anyone other than Mr. Lewis to not yell, and to him only in those posts where he wrote in all caps. There's no reason to misrepresent my actions in order to make your point.

I agree that the Church should consider fidelity to other teachings besides sexual teachings in considering people for employment, though there needs to be a distinction between public and private acts, and between acts that are subject to prudential judgment and those that are intrinsically immoral.

The complex lives of people is precisely why, as the article says, the bishops prefer that these matters be handled on a case-by-case basis rather than adopt a national policy.

I'm not sure what you mean by "modern day public floggings." Is the Church expected to hire or keep in hire employees who reject her teaching and her mission? For whom do you work? If you took a public position contrary to the mission of your company, would you expect to stay employed? If you own a business, and an employee took a public position contrary to the mission or goals of your company, would you keep him?

Vince Killoran
3 months 1 week ago

I stated that you wrote "Please don't yell" in several postings were no one was "yelling," not that there were several posters. Please note the difference.

Re. public v. private: businesses are quite public in their stance on unions and wages inasmuch as federal, state, and local measures regulate such things.

Just to be clear: if a Catholic school &/or diocese welcomes the employment of openly LGBTQ employees you would have no objection?

Robert Lewis
3 months 1 week ago

No, he told friends. He did not enter into any kind of official "gay marriage." I stand by what I said above: the local hierarchy conducted an inquisition. And Mr. Gueverra has every right to keep his private life private, and his professional life professional. Your approach to Church governance is Stalinist. You'd have made a good inquisitor.

Bob Hunt
3 months 1 week ago

First, I'm a bigot. Now, I'm a Stalinist. Your persistent in your attempts to shut me up and close this discussion by discrediting me. Oh, well.

Mr. Lewis, it's not clear at all from the article that he limited his revelation to friends. In any case, the pastor got wind from somewhere that Mr. Guevarra was in a public relationship that had the potential to cause scandal in his parish. I think Mr. Guevarra's responses and the pastor's own knowledge of Mr. Guevarra's relationship gave the pastor just cause to believe that, based on the pastor's admonition to Mr. Guevarra to be more discreet.

Obviously, we're going to continue to disagree on how public Mr. Guevarra's relationship was. So be it. Again, if Mr. Guevarra feels that he was treated unjustly, he can appeal his firing to the diocese. Mr Guevarra has the right to be treated fairly. On the other hand, the Church has the right to dismiss from employment those who take public stands or actions contrary to her teaching and mission. Likely, neither of us has enough details about this particular case to ascertain the whole story.

Abdon Rwandekwe
3 months 1 week ago

I just love your answer, keep it up

Mary Schultheis
3 months 1 week ago

Excellent ....may I please copy your comments?

Bob Hunt
3 months 1 week ago

Ms. Schultheis, it's not clear to whom you're addressing your request, but this is a public forum, so I doubt anyone would mind your copying comments. I certainly don't.

Nora Bolcon
3 months 1 week ago

Well Bob, Jesus said it is fine to condemn sinful behaviors but not punish those people who are sinning. You have the right in Christ to point out that a behavior that you believe Christ taught is wrong and suggest or teach others do not copy this behavior, but Jesus did not authorize you to keep sacraments from those people you deem sinners or fire them unless their sin is causing them to be unable to do their job (which in these cases was not true) and you can't tell them they will be condemned to hell.

Too many more bishops willing to risk empty pews on these kinds of issues, and there won't be anyone left. So if you want Catholicism to continue into the future, you might want to consider this fact: Homosexual people make up appx. 35% of the human population.

For the record, Jesus cared so much about condemning and punishing gay/lesbian people that he never specifically mentions anything regarding homosexuality in any of the four gospels. That may be because it is just in with any kind of unmarried sexual relationship for his purposes but it is interesting how we act like this is just the worst thing a person could be while Jesus does not ever bring it up. Also, if Jesus is upset about someone with an uncontrolled habit, he doesn't condemn them for being unable to change it, He instead heals them 100% of the time.

Jesus when speaking to the woman at the well, told her about how she spoke the truth regarding her many lovers, and husbands, and then without demanding she change her ways if she wanted salvation, instead offered her the drink of eternal life. Jesus knows some things we don't feel strong enough to change even if we want to, and some things we never feel strong enough to change in ourselves, and he does not tell us we can't act as ministers in his church because we are not perfect. Everyone is a sinner so by that standard the only person who should be allowed to be a public minister in Christ is Jesus alone.

Also, I believe the idea that as long as we hide our problems we can be public ministers is a poor and rather unchristian teaching. I don't believe Christ wants us to be false to the world. Not that we should necessarily air every one of our weaknesses but intentionally feeling you must hide yourself and cover up all your sins from the world in order to be accepted in church seems a bit off to me. If anything, Christ told us to confess to each other our sins, to counsel one another with love.

Bob Hunt
3 months 1 week ago

Ms. Bacon, you've made several points and I'll try to address them as best I can.

First, Jesus most certainly did recommend punishing those who are sinning (Mt 18:15-17). The Church has followed His admonition from the earliest years (1 Cor 5:1-15). You're correct in saying that the right to keep people from the sacraments doesn't belong to me. I never claimed such. It does, however, belong to the Church (Mt. 16:19, Mt 18:18, Jn 20:23, "Letter to the Smyrneans" 6:2, St. Ignatius of Antioch, "First Apology," 66, St. Justin Martyr). I never said anything about condemning anyone to hell except that the authority to do so belongs only to Christ.

I certainly do want the Church to continue into the future. But, the Church's continued existence is based on her fidelity to Christ, and we have the promise of Christ that "the gates of the netherworld will not prevail against it" (Mt 16:18) and that Christ would be with us "until the end of the age" (Mt 28:20). I'm not worried, then, that the Church will cease to exist. I'm troubled that so many are leaving the Church, though I'm willing to accept people leaving if the reason they leave is because they do not desire to adhere to the Church's teachings and mission. I have no idea where you got the statistic that homosexual people make up approximately 35% of the population. A research brief published by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law in April, 2001 reports that, based on eleven US and international surveys, an estimated 3.5% of the adult population in the US self-identifies as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. If you have any studies that put that number as high as 35%, I would be interested in a reference.

That Jesus never specifically condemns homosexual acts in any of the four Gospels is irrelevant. I agree that a condemnation of such acts would be included in His general condemnation of fornication and unchastity. However, homosexual acts are clearly condemned in the letters of Paul (1 Cor 6:19-20). If we believe that the Bible is the Word of God, and we believe that Jesus is God, then it only follows that the Bible, including those parts that condemn homosexual acts, is part of Jesus' revelation. Nothing of what I said, and nothing in the Scriptures, so far as I know, suggests that Jesus is upset with someone with an uncontrolled habit. Indeed, St. Mark Ji Tianxiang had an opium addiction that he never overcame prior to his martyrdom, and he's a canonized saint! But, in the cases cited in this article, we're not talking about people with an uncontrolled habit. We're talking about people who willfully and publicly choose to live a lifestyle that is contrary to the teaching and mission of the Church. It's important to remember, too, that nothing in the Scriptures condemns a homosexual orientation. Only homosexual acts are condemned. But, they are condemned.

Your exegesis of John 4:16-18 is interesting, but I don't think it holds up. Recall that the woman was a Samaritan. The commentary from the Didache Bible notes that after the Assyrians conquered the Northern Kingdom, five of their tribes intermingled with the Israelites and introduced their gods (specifically, the baals, a name which means "lord" or "husband"). The five husbands is likely an allegoric reference to the idolatry of the Samaritans in embracing the five false gods of the Assyrians. Surely, Jesus would not have tolerated the worship of false gods. Also, the woman living with a man who is not her husband would have been a violation of Jesus' teaching against adultery. I think the point of the story is that Jesus reaches out to all. He meets us where we are. Happily, though, He doesn't leave us there. Rather, He brings us, by His grace, to salvation.

Certainly, there are things we don't feel strong enough to change, even if we want to. Such things, even habits of sin, are hardly obstacles to effectively working for the Church in leadership or teaching positions. But, again, that's not what the article is talking about. The article is talking about two cases where people willingly and freely choose to live a lifestyle contrary to the teaching and mission of the Church, a teaching and mission given to the Church by Jesus.

I'm not sure where you get the idea that the Church wants people to hide parts of themselves, though I concede that individual Catholics are tempted to do so and sometimes act on that temptation. The pastor told Mr. Guevarra to be more discreet in revealing his relationship, and I think that was bad counsel. The bottom line is, the Church ought to be free to hire and keep in hire those who are living lives consonant with her teachings and mission. If a person is not doing that, and the Church learns that they are not, then they ought to not be placed in positions of leadership and teaching in the first place, and removed if already there. The Church has a right and a responsibility to act in accord with her teaching and mission, and to expect those who work for her to do the same. That she so often fails in this responsibility is no cause for surrendering it.

Bob Hunt
3 months 1 week ago

I'm sorry, I misread your last name. Ms. Bolcon!

Bob Hunt
3 months 1 week ago

I mis-wrote. The Williams Institute brief was published in 2011.

Bob Hunt
3 months 1 week ago

An active gay lifestyle, including same-sex marriage is contrary to the mission of the Catholic Church in teaching that revelation given to her by Christ. If any other institution had an employee whose lifestyle contradicted the mission of that institution, he or she would be fired. Yes, it is unjust that gays are fired when those who are living together outside marriage are not. The answer, however, is not to keep same-sex married or those otherwise active in a gay lifestyle in employ. The answer is to insist and ensure that all those in leadership and teaching positions in the Church are committed to the mission of the Church, both in theory and in practice. The Church's moral authority and witness are damaged when those who represent her in some official way refuse or reject her teaching and mission, including those pastors who are willing to "look the other way" in their hiring policies.

Peter Ahr
3 months 1 week ago

If that were indeed the case, then there would be no teaching or leadership place in the Church for the divorced and remarried, for persons living together without marriage. or for Catholics practicing contraception, to name just some groups whose lives are not in perfect consonance with some teachings. To focus on only one particular group is neither logical, nor consistent, nor charitable.

Bob Hunt
3 months 1 week ago

I agree. In fact, I said that in my original post. It is unjust to fire those who live publicly a gay lifestyle while keeping those who publicly dissent or act in a way inconsistent with the Church's marriage laws employed. The answer, as I also said in my original post, is to ensure that those who are in leadership and teaching positions in the Church adhere to her mission and strive to live faithfully her teachings. As you say, that would, and ought to, exclude those who are divorced and remarried outside the Church and those who are living together without benefit of marriage from positions of leadership and teaching in the Church. I make an exception, however, for those who use contraception because that is not a public act, and the Church has always made a distinction between public and private acts. Even still, if a person took a public stand in dissent of the Church's teaching on contraception, he or she, too, would be subject to the consequences of those who publicly act contrary to the Church's mission and teaching.

Robert Lewis
3 months 1 week ago

Simply living together with someone of the same sex, be it a cousin, a brother or a friend, is not a "public act," either! Your twisted logic displays your extreme bigotry against same-sex-attracted individuals.

Bob Hunt
3 months 1 week ago

I suppose your resorting to calling me a bigot is supposed to shut me up and close the discussion. Oh, well.

Actually, living together with someone is a public act, be it cousin, brother, or friend. It is an act that pubicly communicates that a relationship exists between these two people, though what kind of relationship would require more details.

As above, if you want to argue that Mr. Guevarra's relationship with his homosexual partner was a chaste relationship, by all means, make that argument. There's nothing in the article that Mr. Guevarra said or did to suggest such, so I think your line of argument is specious.

As above, though, if Mr. Guevarra's relationship was chaste, he could have and should have said so. The pastor is responsible for acting even on the suspicion of scandal, so his asking Mr. Guevarra to explain his relationship was perfectly reasonable, given that Mr. Guevarra held a position of leadership and teaching in the Church and the pastor is responsible for ensuring that those who do so strive to live lives consistent with the mission and teaching of the Church.

Carol Cox
3 months 1 week ago

When I asked to be considered as a CCD religion teacher, I had an in-depth interview with my Pastor and I was asked if I was engaged in any activities that would not be acceptable to the Church's teachings. I was asked how I would compare myself to a female pillar of our community. I told the priest that I would never compare myself to her, as I considered her to be completely saint-like. I am not. I am a sinner. I was asked, specifically, if I was engaged in a relationship with anyone with whom I had sexual relations. I was not put-off by this question as I would expect the priest to make certain that he conducted such an interview in order to prevent any conflicts within his community. Common sense would dictate that there was no way that I could represent the Church's teachings if I engaged in sexual relationships with anyone to whom I wasn't married - same sex or opposite sex. I would hope that had I been involved with another individual on this level that I would have admitted as much. I am just sharing my experience. I am not judging anyone. The only being who can judge us is God. I do, however, believe that the Church has every right to set standards within its teaching/operating standards framework that are aligned with the Church's core beliefs. Bless you all.

Stan Zorin
3 months 1 week ago

Satan is 'mainstream' - so arguing that something should be accepted because it is 'mainstream' is kissing Satan's behind.

JOHN PELLEGRINO
3 months 1 week ago

So much for “Who am I to judge.” I’m sure there’s plenty of orthodoxy in hell. How many of us “violate our contracts” daily but are forgiven and go about our daily lives? Look at the scandalous behavior perpetrated AGAINST Fr. Martin. S.J. in New Jersey recently.

Bob Hunt
3 months 1 week ago

Pope Francis' statement, "Who am I to judge?" was in response to a question on whether or not it is possible for a man who possesses a homosexual orientation to be a faithful priest. The Holy Father replies that, if such a man lived the gospel faithfully and was true to his vows, "Who am I to judge?" The Holy Father's statement, in response to a very specific, individual circumstance, had nothing to do with same-sex marriage or living an openly gay lifestyle. In fact, it was predicated on the hypothetical priest not living a gay lifestyle.

You're conflating sinful acts with a commitment to living a life contrary to Church teaching and contrary to the mission of the Church. They are not near the same. We all sin. We all rely on God's mercy. But, the sins we commit, even habits of sin we may have fallen into, are, hopefully, acts that contradict our genuine desire to live the gospel faithfully. The gay lifestyle is not this. Rather, it is a commitment to a lifestyle that contradicts the gospel, not a one-time act in time.

It's not clear to me why the petition to have Fr. Martin replaced as a speaker at a New Jersey parish was scandalous. Even it if was, it's not clear to me what it has to do with this discussion.

Robert Laskowski
3 months 1 week ago

The Church’s position on LGBT issues is both un-Christian and self-destructive. I have had friends in the ministry banished with stories similar to those in the article. These are wonderful spiritual people who were an inspiration to others. The Catholic Church has lost them and those who gained spiritual sustanace with them.

Personally, the Church’s attitude to LGBT people and to women has resulted in the estrangement of my entire family from Catholicism. This includes me (after teaching religious ed for 15 years, being on several parish councils and a catholic university board), my wife (with a masters in pastoral ministry), all 4 of our children, and our grandchildren. It is a tragedy, made worse by hateful narrow-mindedness of many “Catholics.” After years of trying to work “within” the Church, I found that the hierarchy’s and ultra-conservatives’ intransigence was taking me away from God. So, very reluctantly, I gave up the fight.

I pray that Jesus’ spirit of love is eventually recovered and the Catholic Church once again becomes “catholic’”.

Peace and Love to all!

Anne Danielson
3 months 1 week ago

Identifying persons according to sexual desire/inclination/orientation, first and foremost, by sexually objectifying the human person, demeans our inherent Dignity as beloved sons and daughters. Our call to Holiness, has always been a call to be chaste in our thoughts, in our words, and in our deeds.

Men and women are designed in such a way that it is not possible to engage in same-sex sexual acts without demeaning our inherent Dignity as beloved sons and daughters. The desire to engage in a demeaning act of any nature, does not change the nature of the act. No one should be condoning demeaning sexual acts of any nature including between a man and woman united in marriage as husband and wife.

The erroneous notion that private morality and public morality can serve in opposition to one another, and are not complementary, has lead to grievous error in both Faith and reason.To claim that man is not subject to God's Law, when acting in private, is a complete renunciation of our Catholic Faith.

The sexual objectification of the human person has led to physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual suffering. It is time to heal those wounds, and learn how to develop healthy and Holy relationships and friendships that are grounded in authentic Love.

Why not tell those men and women who have developed a same-sex sexual attraction the truth? It is because we Love you, and respect your Dignity as a beloved son or daughter, that we cannot condone the engaging in or affirmation of any act, including any sexual act that demeans your inherent Dignity as a beloved son or daughter. The desire to engage in a demeaning act of any nature, does not change the nature of the act. We Love you, and because we Love you, we desire that you will always be treated with, and will always treat others with Dignity and respect in private as well as in public. We will not tolerate the engaging in or condoning of sexual behavior, that does not reflect the upmost respect for the human person, because every human person is Sacred in the eyes of God.

One should never underestimate the value of a Loving friendship that serves only for the Good of oneself and the other. The Good News is that Love, which is always rightly ordered, "can make all things new again"; Salvational Love, God's Gift of Grace and Mercy, is available to all who desire to believe in The Unity of The One Word of God, The One Truth of Love Made Flesh, The One Lamb of God Who Taketh Away The Sins of The World, Our Savior, Jesus The Christ,

Robert Laskowski
3 months 1 week ago

The Church’s position on LGBT issues is both un-Christian and self-destructive. I have had friends in the ministry banished with stories similar to those in the article. These are wonderful spiritual people who were an inspiration to others. The Catholic Church has lost them and those who gained spiritual sustanace with them.

Personally, the Church’s attitude to LGBT people and to women has resulted in the estrangement of my entire family from Catholicism. This includes me (after teaching religious ed for 15 years, being on several parish councils and a catholic university board), my wife (with a masters in pastoral ministry), all 4 of our children, and our grandchildren. It is a tragedy, made worse by hateful narrow-mindedness of many “Catholics.” After years of trying to work “within” the Church, I found that the hierarchy’s and ultra-conservatives’ intransigence was taking me away from God. So, very reluctantly, I gave up the fight.

I pray that Jesus’ spirit of love is eventually recovered and the Catholic Church once again becomes “catholic’”.

Peace and Love to all!

Mona Villarrubia
3 months 1 week ago

Robert, I agree with so much of what you say. I gave up the fight for other reasons but finding a church that was lgbtq accepting and offered ordination if women was important to me.
There are so many social justice issues and moral principles that come from Jesus’ teaching. But sexual morality? That’s all Augustine, a man who struggled with uncontrolled sexual indulgence and desire. A man full of self hatred and guilt. But Jesus? Jesus didn’t have a message about sex. Mary Magdalene wasn’t a prostitute she was a sick woman who was healed. The women who anointed Jesus’ feet was a sinner he forgave. Jesus told us to love god and neighbor, to feed the hungry and clothe the naked. To practice compassion. If we took what Jesus actually preached and held people in authority up to those standards we would have to examine how each of our priests and bishops, not just lay workers in the church, were living and require they give up their wealth and serve the poor.
That would be a valid investigation with a scriptural basis.

Matthew 19:21 New International Version (NIV)
21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.

Matthew 22:36-40 New International Version (NIV)
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Bob Hunt
3 months 1 week ago

Ms. Villarrubia, Jesus didn't have a message about sex? Consider:

Mt 5:19, where Jesus affirms the Law, which condemns immoral sexual acts (Ex 20:14, Ex 22:16-17, Lev 18:6-23, Deut 22:5, Deut 22:23-29).
Mt 5:27-30, where Jesus condemns adultery and creates a higher standard for acts of adultery.
Mt 19:4-6, where Jesus affirms the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman.
Mk 7:20-23, where Jesus condemns unchastity, adultery, licentiousness, among other immoral acts.
Jn 8:2-11, where Jesus does not condemn to death the woman caught in adultery, but recognized her sin and admonishes her to sin no more. Why tell her to sin no more if what she had done was not a sin in the first place?
Rev 2:18-23, where Jesus, in a vision to John, condemns harlotry and adultery.

There are many other places in the NT where sexually immoral acts are condemned. If Jesus is God, and the Bible is the Word of God, then it only stands to reason that the Bible is the revelation of Jesus, who is God.

There is a great need to reach out to those who struggle with all sin, including sexual sin. Of course, that means reaching out to all of us! But, it does no one any good to deny or reject what Jesus and the Scriptures clearly condemn. To do so is unjust to all, who have a right to hear the gospel in all its fullness, including its moral teachings.

Mona Villarrubia
3 months 1 week ago

Robert, I agree with so much of what you say. I gave up the fight for other reasons but finding a church that was lgbtq accepting and offered ordination if women was important to me.
There are so many social justice issues and moral principles that come from Jesus’ teaching. But sexual morality? That’s all Augustine, a man who struggled with uncontrolled sexual indulgence and desire. A man full of self hatred and guilt. But Jesus? Jesus didn’t have a message about sex. Mary Magdalene wasn’t a prostitute she was a sick woman who was healed. The women who anointed Jesus’ feet was a sinner he forgave. Jesus told us to love god and neighbor, to feed the hungry and clothe the naked. To practice compassion. If we took what Jesus actually preached and held people in authority up to those standards we would have to examine how each of our priests and bishops, not just lay workers in the church, were living and require they give up their wealth and serve the poor.
That would be a valid investigation with a scriptural basis.

Matthew 19:21 New International Version (NIV)
21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.

Matthew 22:36-40 New International Version (NIV)
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Alice Pat
3 months 1 week ago

As I have said before, the church's position on LGBT persons is based on antiquated, unscientific ideas. I pray church leaders (and the rest of us) will come to understand that LGBT persons are born this way (i.e., God created them this way), therefore there is no Christian reason they should be excluded from our Christian church.

Robert Lewis
3 months 1 week ago

The enormous tragedy in all of this is that there actually IS a way, formerly embraced by the orthodox Churches of Europe, to minister to the "same-sex-attracted," to "accompany" them in their lives, and to support their efforts to live in holy and chaste unions. All of this is clearly spelled out in the scholarship of Bray and Boswell, and it is only the puritanical, flesh-abhorring culture that has developed in the modern and post-modern age, that has contributed to such a large amount of homophobia in lay Catholics, and that is preventing the Catholic ecclesia from recognizing, in her own past traditions, the solution to this vexatious issue, which is driving so many good Catholics out of the pews.

Patty Bennett
3 months 1 week ago

There is something missing in this discussion--the REASON that someone was fired. When someone states that they are "homosexual" it means primarily attracted to members of the same sex. The attraction itself is not a sin, but acting upon it is. This is true of any temptation to any sin. The temptation itself is not a sin, but acting upon it is.
.
On the other hand, when someone speaks of himself/herself as "LGBTQ", it means that they consider this a positive thing, and do not agree that there is a problem. They do not believe--they reject--the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church that acting upon these inclinations/temptations is sinful.
.
This is the issue. It is perfectly reasonable to expect those who work to TEACH the Catholic faith to ACCEPT and NOT REJECT the Catholic faith.
We are ALL sinners. We are all called to love and respect one another. However, that does not imply a right to teach what you don't believe.

Michael Seredick
3 months 1 week ago

It's a good thing the Church didn't know Michelangelo was gay. I hear he did a pretty good job on the interior of the Sistine Chapel where Cardinals meet to vote for the next Pope.

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