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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fresno Priest comes out: as gay man & against Prop 8

Photo by Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

You may have heard already about this courageous Catholic Priest in Fresno who, after receiving a letter from his Bishop to preach about "saving traditional marriage" decided instead to give his Sunday homily on why he could only recommend a no vote on Proposition 8, and then in a later TV interview came out publicly as a gay man.

Sadly, and of course, he was removed from his position as Pastor at St. Paul/Newman Center in Fresno.
With Proposition 8 on the November ballot, and his own bishop urging Central Valley priests to support its definition of traditional marriage, Farrow told congregants he felt obligated to break "a numbing silence" about church prejudice against homosexuals.

"How is marriage protected by intimidating gay and lesbian people into loveless and lonely lives?" he asked parishioners of the St. Paul Newman Center. "I am morally compelled to vote no on Proposition 8."

Then Farrow -- who had revealed that he was gay during a television interview immediately before Mass -- added a coda to his sermon.

"I know these words of truth will cost me dearly," he said. "But to withhold them . . . I would become an accomplice to a moral evil that strips gay and lesbian people not only of their civil rights but of their human dignity as well." [LATimes]
Father Farrow maintains a blog where you can stay up to date on his latest writings about his experience and also on his status with the Church.

As a long time and faithful Catholic, his writings resonate with me personally.
You can be a good and faithful Catholic and vote NO on Proposition 8.

Many priests, nuns and ordinary Catholics will vote NO on Proposition 8 because they believe that taking away civil rights from same sex couples is wrong and strips them not only of civil rights but, also of basic human dignity. I know this because they have expressed this to me directly. Many pastors simply refuse to say anything at all on the subject publicly. Most of my brother priests try to help Catholic same sex couples in the same fashion that they help Catholic heterosexual couples who use contraception or, who have divorced and remarried. We try to assist these souls in the confessional and in counseling sessions. We attempt to humanize what can otherwise be impossibly rigid doctrines that crush people or drive them away from the community of faith.

As an elderly Pastor once told me: “We are not technicians, we work with human lives”. People are not statistics, they are not a political issue, they are human beings. Initially, I too simply decided to remain silent. But then, more and more people came to me and asked for guidance on this issue. At the same time, the Diocese became more and more vocal in its support for Proposition 8 and began to organize lay people to vote yes on 8.

When I was asked to promote my congregation to vote yes on Proposition 8 I was placed in a position of having to choose between my position and the spiritual and emotional well being of those who I was called to serve. Theologians such as, St. Thomas Aquinas have taught of the primacy of one’s personal conscience because on the day that you die it will be your conscience that either acquits or condemns you before God.

In good conscience, I cannot place an impossibly heavy load on the backs of those entrusted to my pastoral care and leave them to fend for themselves as best they can. The cost of this would be abandonment of faith, possibly of God. It would probably contribute to isolation, depression and possible despair or, worse (especially for young people). I gave them the advice that most of them would receive privately from most priests, I simply did it openly at the end of Sunday Mass from the pulpit. [FGF Blogspot]
I give my props to you, Father Geoff, and you are in my thoughts and prayers. I can only imagine what you must be going through...and thank you for your brave example.

Also, here's More from the Fresno news channel.

1 comment:

  1. Some Evangelical Clergy are urging people to vote NO on proposition 8. Perhaps that accounts for the fact that the NO side is gaining ground.

    Also, shouldn't Christians be more concerned about the Parental Notification initiative? I think Christians have been bamboozled by out-of-state interests.