Catholic Church Had “No Choice” in Firing Gay Musician, Says Bishop

By Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry, October 6, 2016

A Catholic bishop in Rhode Island said there had been “no choice” when firing a gay church worker, and that the decision to do so was in line with Pope Francis’ thought.  Meanwhile in New Jersey, the top administrator at a Catholic school which fired an LGBT employee has been reinstated.

Bishop Thomas Tobin
Bishop Thomas Tobin

Bishop says Church Had “No Choice” in Firing Gay Church Worker 

Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence has defended the firing of gay church worker Michael Templeton. In a brief statement, reported by GoLocal Providence, Tobin said a church worker or volunteer who “deliberately and knowingly enters in a relationship or engages in activity that contradicts the core teachings of the Church, that individual leaves the Church no choice to respond.”

Tobin also defended the decision in the Templeton case on the Diocese of Providence’s website, saying church leaders who fire LGBT people “are indeed a lot like Pope Francis.” Tobin cited the pope’s criticisms of marriage equality, and attributed to Pope Francis the firing of gay Vatican theologian Msgr. Krzysztof Charamsa and the rejection of France’s gay ambassador to the Holy See.

Finally, after celebrating a Mass for “Milestone Marriages” shortly after Templeton was fired, Bishop Tobin remarked to the Providence Journal:

“Well this is for people celebrating 25 years or more so we don’t have anybody like that [in same-gender marriages]. We’ll worry about that in 20 years. Not today.”

michaeltempleton_360_364
Michael Templeton

Templeton, the former music director at the Church of St. Mary, was fired last month for being in a same-gender marriage. The Journal reported on the negative impact this incident has had on the community there, which had been known for its inclusive welcome:

“Many St. Mary’s parishioners, who arrived at the 10 a.m. Mass wearing rainbow buttons and shirts promoting marriage equality, hoped to hear an explanation from Father Francese. They held hands, and at times, wept — many, gay themselves, said they no longer felt comfortable in the one Catholic parish that has sheltered them.

” ‘This priest had the opportunity to explain himself, or at the very least, to be direct with us,’ said Leo Narducci. ‘But instead he ignored us and gave the same gibberish we hear from him every Sunday.’ “

Parishioners resisted the unjust firing at Mass when more than 30 people, following one choir member’s lead, began singing “All Are Welcome” during the recitation of the Nicene Creed.

Fr. Francesco Francese did not acknowledge the firing in his homily, and avoided parishioners and media alike after Mass. His actions in conjunction with the Diocese are causing many to question their place in the church, and some to walk away altogether:

“Glen Beattie, who came to St. Mary’s in 2008, waved goodbye to the altar Sunday as he headed out the door. ‘Bye church,’ he said, sadly. If Templeton isn’t welcome, Beattie, also a gay man, doesn’t feel safe, either. . .One woman, who has been attending church there for 40 years but did not want to give her name, said she’s thinking of leaving the religion altogether.

” ‘This isn’t right,’ she said with tears in her eyes. ‘This isn’t what being a Christian is.’ “

Principal in LGBT Dispute Reinstated at Paramus Catholic High School

In New Jersey, Principal Stephanie Macaluso has returned to Paramus Catholic High School. The preceding week, Macaluso and President James Vail were placed on leave by the Archdiocese of Newark, reported NJ.com.

Jim Goodness, the archdiocesan spokesperson, has refused to comment on why the administrators were placed on leave initially and why Macaluso but not Vail had been allowed to return. An email from Archdiocesan Schools Superintendent Margaret A. Dames urged parents to “disregard the recent public speculation and misleading media hype.”

There are speculations that the decisions about Macaluso and Vail are related to the firing of lesbian educator Kate Drumgoole, who announced a lawsuit against Paramus Catholic in August. The Record reported that some students suggested Vail and Macaluso had supported Drumgoole against the Archdiocese.

For Bondings 2.0‘s full coverage of this story, and other LGBT-related church worker disputes, click the ‘Employment Issues‘ category to the right or here. You can click here to find a full listing of the more than 60 incidents since 2008 where church workers have lost their jobs over LGBT identity, same-sex marriages, or public support for equality.

13 thoughts on “Catholic Church Had “No Choice” in Firing Gay Musician, Says Bishop

  1. Larry October 6, 2016 / 8:58 am

    Bishop Tobin quotes Pope Francis in support of Tobin’s firing of a gay church worker????
    See what happens when Francis is wishy washy on LGBT rights. Where is the “walk with them” part of Francis’ message in Tobin’s remarks?

  2. Rick October 6, 2016 / 9:03 am

    No choice? Is that what Jesus would do? Discusting that a Church based on the tenants of dignity and respect of the human person and rights and responsibilities of the worker would stoop to this level. These types of acts totally compromise the Church”s voice in social justice. Shame, shame on you.

  3. Wilhelm Wonka October 6, 2016 / 9:38 am

    We love LGBT people…but not unconditionally. This is the subliminal message of Bishop Tobin’s words. And it is not a Christian message. It is also deeply hypocritical, since the Catholic Church, for very many years, continued to employ and protect priests and religious it knew were abusing children.

    Unfortunately, Pope Francis probably would, as Tobin suggested, endorse the firing of Michael Templeton, such is Francis’ duplicity. On the one hand, he offers apparent words of welcome to LGBT people; on the other hand, actual words of dismissal through his bishops. As someone wisely said to me recently: Pope Francis speaks from both sides of his mouth.

    As time passes and these homophobic injustices continue, Pope Francis and his priests are gradually being exposed for the moral frauds they are.

    Some LGBT people and their supporters are slow, perhaps reluctant, to give up on the so-called “Francis effect”. I understand this, and I sympathise with them. Francis appeared to offer them hope of inclusion, but, as mounting evidence suggests, this offer was (and remains) illusory.

  4. amagjuka October 6, 2016 / 9:58 am

    Of course he had a choice. He made the wrong one. I would love to see parishes sing “All Are Welcome” during the Nicene Creed every week. It could be like the people who stand during mass every week to silently protest that women do not have meaningful roles in the hierarchy of the church.ncronline.org/news/faith-parish/womens-longtim…

  5. John Hilgeman October 6, 2016 / 11:03 am

    “Tobin said a church worker or volunteer who ‘deliberately and knowingly enters in a relationship or engages in activity that contradicts the core teachings of the Church, that individual leaves the Church no choice to respond.’”

    I wonder – when did the condemnation of same gender relationships and marriages become a core teaching of the Church on a par with the teachings of Jesus and the Creed?

    And there is this statement: “Well this is for people celebrating 25 years or more so we don’t have anybody like that [in same-gender marriages]. We’ll worry about that in 20 years. Not today.”

    It is not unusual for same gender couples to be in committed relationships of 20-25 years or more. Of course such relationships have been recognized by the State of Rhode Island for only 3 years (though civil unions were approved 5 years ago). But Massachusetts has had legal civil marriages for same gender couples for 13 years. Bishop Tobin won’t be the bishop in 20 years. Perhaps by that time things will have changed.

    Francis is an excuse. His actions and statements are no justification for treating same gender relationships as evil and unacceptable. The real root of his own stances on the issue, and the stances of men such as Tobin, is a doctrine based not on facts and reality, but based rather on centuries of bias and ignorance.

  6. Sisters Lea and Consilia October 6, 2016 / 11:30 am

    On the Church’s obligation to fire “a church worker or volunteer who ‘deliberately and knowingly enters in a relationship or engages in activity that contradicts the core teachings of the Church, that individual leaves the Church no choice to respond’.”

    Wouldn’t this rationale require the Church to fire all its employees and volunteers?…for surely most, if not all, “engage in activity that contradicts the core teachings of the Church” like contraception, discrimination, lying, cheating, stealing?

    Bravo to the 30 parishioners who, “following one choir member’s lead, began singing “All Are Welcome” during the recitation of the Nicene Creed.” More of this type of action is NECESSARY!

    The day must come when the Catholic Church is going to address helpfully the whole sexual relations issue instead of harping on its man/woman complementarity as if that were the sum total teaching on Catholic sexuality?

  7. Jim McCrea October 6, 2016 / 11:52 am

    This denomination and pope are still light-years away from developing any true sense of inclusion of the LGBT communities. At age 76 I have more important things to concern myself than to expect change in those who do not want to even seriously consider change. The rest of you are welcome to waste your time hoping abd praying, but count me out, out, out.

  8. markdowd1959 October 6, 2016 / 5:50 pm

    Cowardly decision. How will you draw youngsters and doubters to the gospel by acting like this??_

  9. Terri November 7, 2016 / 9:09 pm

    This was a very sad day. I try to live my life in a way I believe Jesus would approve but do not attend mass often. Micheal is a wonderful person. St Mary’s always felt warm and ccomfortable . Like a big family. I cannot believe how fast one person can destroy something so good so fast!
    No matter what happens now or in the future st Mary’s can never go back to what it was.
    Best wishes to michael and his family.

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