On My Dismissal from Lectoring at Daylesford Abbey

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William di Canzio

Today’s post is by William di Canzio, a playwright  who has taught at Smith College, Haverford College, and Yale University. At Yale, he was also appointed dean of Trumbull College, academic director in residence to four hundred undergraduates. He has published essays in Commonweal magazine. He holds a PhD  from Johns Hopkins University and MFA from the Yale School of Drama, where he was awarded the Eugene O’Neill scholarship in playwriting. He now teaches in the Pennoni Honors College of Drexel University, Philadelphia.

A week ago Saturday the abbot of Daylesford Abbey, a Norbertine community near Philadelphia, emailed me requesting a meeting; he said he would rather not disclose its purpose. A few days later we met for coffee. Abbot Richard Antonucci started our conversation by saying that he’d heard that Jim Anderson and I had been legally married. “I want you to believe this,” he said: “I sincerely
wish you many, many years of happiness together.”

Then he passed me a copy of a directive from Archbishop Charles Chaput of
Philadelphia stating that members of same-sex couples should “not hold
positions of responsibility in a parish, nor should they carry out any liturgical
ministry or function.” Richard said he intended to enforce the directive.

Our talk was frank but friendly. I reminded him that the abbey is not a parish
and nor is Chaput his superior. True enough, but, Richard tells me, all Catholic
laypeople in the archdiocese are subject to Chaput’s authority.

I argued that I knew of local pastors choosing not to enforce the directive because
of its injustice. Richard said he was unwilling to take the risk.

“You’re the spiritual leader of the place I’ve been part of for thirty-five years,” I
said. “How do you counsel me?”

Richard said that he hoped I might find it in my heart to remain in the abbey
community.

This pain of this decision can only be felt where there is love. Here’s why it
hurts: when I first came to Daylesford Abbey in 1981, I had just undergone what
I later learned is called a conversion. Raised Catholic, educated in a parish
school and at Jesuit prep school, I’d become disaffected with the church in
college. Then, at 30, I got knocked off my horse and struck blind, so to speak,
and returned to a church much different from the one I’d known as a kid. My
discovery of Daylesford Abbey, with its refined architecture, enlightened
preaching and ravishing liturgy, was a revelation within the revelation. Though
I’d never seen the place before, when I entered its church for the first time, I had
the uncanny feeling that I’d come home.

In those early days, the abbey’s liturgical director befriended me and put me to
work immediately on special projects: revising a hymnal with an eye to
amending sexist language; arranging a psalter and canticles to be used in the
Daylesford Rite of the Hours. We likewise collaborated on liturgical events—the
consecration of the Abbey’s Church of the Assumption, a children’s mass for
Christmas morning, and the Good Friday Veneration of the Cross, a service that
has since become Daylesford’s signature. From the beginning, even before
lectoring, mine has been a ministry of words.

Even during the many years I lived in New Haven, I kept close to the Abbey. I
was commissioned me to write a three-year cycle of penitential rites for its
Sunday mass based on the scriptural readings for the day. In 1988 I became an
Affiliate (one considering entering the order); in 2001, an Associate (a layperson
with an especially active role in the abbey’s life). During the declining years of
my parents (who loved the place), the Abbey was a source of solace to me as
caregiver. Two Norbertines celebrated my father’s funeral.

Lectoring has been a particular passion for me. On my conversion, I was drawn
to the lectern because of the beauty of what I heard and my desire to know it
better. A writer myself, I prepare my assignments as if I had written them, so
that I can present them to the assembly with understanding and conviction.

Forgive me if this sounds like a resume. My point is Charles Chaput knows none
of this about me. Richard himself, who came to Daylesford in 2000, did not
know how very long is my history there. Neither of these men know that Jim
decided to be confirmed a Catholic after attending Pentecost mass at Daylesford,
though Richard remembered fondly Jim’s magnificent chanting of the Passion
narratives, solo, from the Abbey pulpit on three consecutive Palm Sundays and
Good Fridays.

My meeting with the abbot on October 20 was not first my first encounter with
the episcopal directive. I’d read about it in the news some months before. Of
course it made me angry: it’s very offensive. Chaput asserts that same-sex
couples “offer a serious counter-witness to Catholic belief, which can only
produce moral confusion in the community. Such a relationship cannot be
accepted into the life of the parish without undermining the faith of the
community, most notably the children.”

This strikes me as hypocritical, perhaps even cynical, especially the phrase
concerning children: we remember that Benedict XVI appointed Chaput to
Philadelphia in the midst of the legal consequences of disclosures of the history
of clerical pedophilia in the archdiocese.

In his administration, Chaput has crossed a line into alienating the laity whom he
was entrusted to serve. He has advocated, even lobbied, against extending the
Pennsylvania commonwealth’s statute of limitation on crimes of sexual
predation. Perhaps alienation is a deliberate strategy: like the failed pope who
appointed him, the archbishop has spoken publically about the advantages of a
“smaller, lighter” church.

Since my meeting with Richard, I’ve gone through several phases of grief:
betrayal, anger, self-pity, sorrow, and worst, I realize now, was a sense of shame
and disgrace. These latter emotions are what victims of abuse are made to feel in its aftermath, but they’re also familiar to gay men of my age. And I thought I was done with those—years and years ago.

–William di Canzio, November 4, 2016

For Bondings 2.0‘s full coverage of other LGBT-related church worker and parish volunteer 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 2007 where church workers or volunteers have lost their positions over LGBT identity, same-sex marriages, or public support for equality.

52 thoughts on “On My Dismissal from Lectoring at Daylesford Abbey

  1. Gary Cox November 4, 2016 / 1:13 am

    I think they will come around when the pews are empty as the collection. Isn’t it ironic with all those queer cardinals?

    • Wilhelm Wonka November 4, 2016 / 6:44 pm

      Queer as a bottle of French fries, those cardinals.

    • Thomas Scholler November 7, 2016 / 2:52 pm

      The hierarchy of the Church react out of fear because they know the truth. They protect themselves and by doing so they cause great pain to others.

  2. David Betz, SM November 4, 2016 / 2:18 am

    My heart goes out to William. I believe that it is unjust and a blatant act of non-hospitality to someone who feels that the community at Daylesford Abbey, has been an essential part of his faith journey!!! The abbot has succumbed to a misguided, discriminatory directive.

  3. Tondalaya Gillespie November 4, 2016 / 2:37 am

    God created all of us, the Church may reject you but God does not.

  4. Thomas November 4, 2016 / 5:31 am

    Chaput’s ironclad ruling certainly does not take into account people with such rich gifts to offer as does the author. However, rulings such as Chaput’s and any other bishop, archbishop or cardinal should be flatly ignored by everyone. The purpose of the Church is not to alienate nor to judge . A tyrannical focus on sexuality speaks volumes about pent up frustration. I am sorry that the act of marrying someone you love creates a problem for the Church. I am sorrier that the Church is blind to what is is doing.

  5. Wilhelm Wonka November 4, 2016 / 6:53 am

    “All Catholic laypeople in the archdiocese are subject to Chaput’s authority”? Nonsense! This isn’t some feudal society. Is that abbot for real?

    Hard battles are never won without risk. The abbot should have grown a spine and stood up to Chaput’s tyranny. He’ll be ashamed of himself one day (if he isn’t already) for not having done so.

  6. Wilhelm Wonka November 4, 2016 / 7:17 am

    Isn’t gluttony still one of the Seven Deadly Sins?

    Charles Chaput is hardly a model of culinary abstemiousness. He should excuse himself, then, from participation in liturgical functions. After all, we have to protect the children from thinking that overeating is acceptable moral behaviour.

  7. Wilhelm Wonka November 4, 2016 / 7:22 am

    I hope di Canzio turns this injustice against him into a lucrative money-spinner by writing a hilarious comedy of errors about Chaput, and his kind.

    Go on, man. Turn the tables on them.

  8. Joe Geist November 4, 2016 / 7:35 am

    Why Chaput will never be named a cardinal by this Pope.

    • Wilhelm Wonka November 4, 2016 / 5:54 pm

      Astonishingly, he’ll probably consider himself s martyr to his inviolate cause.

  9. Vernon Smith November 4, 2016 / 7:44 am

    Thank you for sharing your painful, beautifully written story. I am so sorry that you must experience this in Philadelphia, under a bishop who is all too well known for his negative actions. We hear so many cases of people who lose their jobs in Catholic work places for the same reasons. Those are frightening to hear, as people’s basic income, security, and ability to fund food and shelter are threatened. But your case is different . . . Although financial security is rarely at stake for losing the ability to Lector, your story emphasises with such clarity the spiritual harm that the bishop and abbot are inflicting. And the inhuman, abusive nature of such actions. It is so very sad that this has happened to you. And it is important that you have shared your difficult experience with such dignity, expressed because of love. Matters of the spirit often get overwhelmed by news events regarding injustice, and you so beautifully place those matters front and center. Like financial harm, spiritual harm takes a great toll in its own, unique ways. Peace to you and yours . . .

  10. Diane November 4, 2016 / 8:03 am

    I can’t articulate how very sad this makes me, certainly for William and Jim, and of course for our Catholic Church. I’ve told so many people struggling with their own conversions that our priests with their boots on the ground value the gifts of our gay brothers and sisters, and are welcome and affirming of them. Abbot Richard clearly contradicts this understanding and does more damage than Chaput, who we all know to be very negative on LGBT issues. I will be praying hard for William and Jim, that they be patient, that they keep the faith with extra measures of God’s grace despite their awful treatment, and so continue to be witnesses to His love. I promise they will be showered with strength in their suffering.

  11. collinspwyahoocom November 4, 2016 / 8:30 am

    If possible, please convey my deepest empathy with this good man and let him know that his and his spouse are being held this morning before the Lord in my praying of the Liturgy of the Hours on the Feast of St. Charles Borromeo who was well known for his implementation of the Council of Trent.Father Patrick W. Collins, Ph.D., Retired Priest of the Diocese of Peoria, living in my Hermitage Nova Vita in Douglas MI

  12. David J Martin November 4, 2016 / 8:37 am

    I had a similar experience of unChristlike treatment in 2008 at age 58 during the 5th year of a 6 year Catholic diaconate program. Married 36 yrs/5 adult children 50 hrs of ministerial service monthly I had the epiphany of being gay. Came out to my wife (who confessed she had always known & that I loved her kids etc. ) who attested to her love for me and that I had always been & would continue my fidelity. However my homophobic son assaulted me nearly fatally one near night after deacon class. My closeted pastor and sexually active program director – closeted frequent local bath house user who had been found guilty of attempted seduction of young seminarians – decided without canonical hearing to expel me from the diaconate and ALL ministries – even as a lector/Eucharistic minister. Such hypocrisy and hateful action is unfathomable. I rejected that parish and began attending a nearby LGBT friendly parish/pastor. There is NOTHING holy about Holy Mother Church when such bottom feeding clerics are in positions. I have forgiven but can NEVER forget their actions
    Namaste – David

  13. Loretta November 4, 2016 / 9:01 am

    Williams’s experience cuts through the heart. So many comments on this article showing how the body of Christ cannot be legislated. I pray the grace of God will fill his spirit and Jim’s because this kind of hurt can only be healed by grace.

  14. JPeterDunn November 4, 2016 / 10:12 am

    It’s hard to stay faithful when such injustice abounds. Why don’t we just remove Luke 4:18 from scripture?

  15. Tom Bower November 4, 2016 / 10:13 am

    Too many people fall in love with the Catholic Church for its beautiful ceremony, mystery, and aesthetic comforts, but the reality of the Church is the Crucifixion and Resurrection and Ascension. The imperial glory that came following Constantine have lead the hierarchy and too many of the lay community to believe that loveliness means Godliness. We are to follow the life of Christ, not its current earthly trappings. Being forbidden from lectoring in a beautiful building is a call to spread the message of how broad Christ’s love is as the writer is doing – that was his true St. Paul moment..

    • Albertus November 4, 2016 / 11:01 am

      God is Beauty, and Mystery! Our worship should reflect that, for our churches are supposed to be reflexions of Heaven, of God’s glory. Surely Beauty and Mystery do not exclude Justice and Godliness? It seems to me that ideally, the Church should be both beautiful and just, lovely and godly. I myself go to such as church as William describes, and would rather not be christian at all, than have to be content with pseudo-christian puritanical nothingness, or modern-day ugliness, basenss and formlessness. In such conditions justice and charity cannot long flourish, they lose their flavour: at least that is my experience. The seeking soul will not be happy with anything less then what is true, beautiful and good; knows it when it finds it; and will do everything not to lose it.

  16. Bishop Carlos A Florido. osf November 4, 2016 / 10:34 am

    Another sad story of misunderstanding the teachings of the Christ and of religion becoming “crowd control” rather than to becoming a path to the Divine.

  17. Nancy Wilson November 4, 2016 / 10:40 am

    So sad that so much good can be negated so unjustly, and without any consideration. Your service to the Abbey will be missed by so many.

  18. Albertus November 4, 2016 / 10:47 am

    William di Canzio, my heart is full of sorrow for you. In the face of this injustice, perpetrated by the local Bishop of a Church which preaches justice, your (and my) feelings could not be anything else but hurt, rejection, betrayal and indignation. I am 61 years old: i was born Catholic, and hopefully i shall die Catholic. But every time that i hear or read about the wrongs committed by leaders and members of the Church against gay people, or experience those wrongs myself, I wish that there were some other Catholic Church to flee to, one that is free from homophobic policies, one that actually does practice justice for gay people. In the meantime i continue to bear the cross of ecclesistical homophobia, without approving of it, without being silent about it. And i pray at every Mass that the Vatican will one day openly proclaim the goodness of same-sex love and relationships. I hope that you will continue to show up at your Abbey spiritual home, and thereby openly stand up for your worth as a child of God, and show that you are at peace with yourself and with God, that you will not be chased away by human injustice, even when perpetrated in God’s name. This is what i have done, and by doing so, the hurt has become much less.

    • Wilhelm Wonka November 4, 2016 / 12:52 pm

      “In the meantime I continue to bear the cross of ecclesiastical homophobia…without being silent about it.” To me, these five last words are the most important of your post.

      Silence about any injustice is an injustice itself. It allows evil to pass unremarked and UNNAMED; but, more than this (and because of it), it allows evil to thrive.

      Homophobia must be named for the grave sin it is. And the graver the sin, the louder must be the voices of protest.

      • Albertus November 4, 2016 / 1:55 pm

        Exactly so! Very well put, Wilhelm.

      • Wilhelm Wonka November 4, 2016 / 4:48 pm

        Thanks, Al.

  19. Mary E Hunt November 4, 2016 / 11:18 am

    I wish this were a unique case. It is not. And that is only counting the people who are told to their faces versus the ones who are eased out or not let in in the first place. I give thanks for this faithful, talented couple. The hierarchs and those who do their bidding, in this case the person who delivered the message rather than acting with integrity, will one day wake up and find themselves alone. Meanwhile, the community gathered for sacrament and solidarity will endure albeit outside the walls.

  20. Ryan Sattler November 4, 2016 / 11:19 am

    Fr James Martin told us we need to take the high road and meet the Church Hierarchy half way. But where is Fr Martin when we are confronted with unjust, non-loving church law where there is no “half way.” So sad when church law becomes more important than the love and uniqueness of how we treat God’s special children.

    • Larry November 4, 2016 / 12:04 pm

      Exactly, I do not see Fr. Jim Martin offering to meet with Chaput and “build a bridge” to get this person reinstated. So I guess Fr. Jim’s bridges are theoretical. Since New Ways gave Fr. Jim their award, how about asking him directly to do this. I await your and his response.

      • Thomas Smith November 4, 2016 / 2:40 pm

        “Love casts out fear.” Why are New Ways and Fr. Martin unwilling to face homophobia (fear) with the power of love? What exactly are they doing to confront the evil of this Archbishop? Posting stories only? Every Sunday we say “Mea culpa for what I have done and for what I have FAILED to do.”

      • Francis DeBernardo, Editor November 4, 2016 / 4:45 pm

        Tom,

        At the risk of sounding defensive, New Ways Ministry has been doing as much as we can to try to stem the tide of these unjust firings.

        For several years now, ever since this terrible trend started, we have been encouraging Catholic insititutions to adopt non-discrimination clauses for employment. https://newwaysministryblog.wordpress.com/2013/10/25/how-to-establish-lgbt-employment-non-discrimination-policies-in-catholic-institutions/

        We have been meeting with various Catholic leaders which operate institutions to empower them to resist directives to fire cherished employees. We have been speaking out at Catholic gatherings and meetings about this trend and what people can do to prevent more firings.

        We have supported many communities which have arisen to protest the firings.

        In addition, we have provided the only resource that I know of which catalogues developments on the topic of LGBT Catholic employment disputes. https://newwaysministryblog.wordpress.com/employment/ It is used by journalists, scholars, students, and other researchers to examine the issues. Included in it are some of the positive developments which have occurred in regard to this issue, as well as resources for people to use to develop strategies to counter the firings.

        This is just a few of the ways that we have been involved.

        New Ways Ministry’s primary mission is to educate and empower, and we have been trying to do that as best as we are able with our small staff and resources. Responding to these firings, which while a national trend, remain primarily local events requires local people to respond to their church administrators and bishops. We have tried to help people to respond powerfully to these leaders by giving them information and guidance, when requested.

        New Ways Ministry cannot do everything, but we do try to help when and where we can.

        As for Fr. Martin, I cannot speak for him. When he accepted our Bridge Building Award last Sunday he said:

        Moreover, L.G.B.T. people are beloved children of God with gifts—both as individuals and as a community. These gifts build up the church in unique ways, as St. Paul told us when he compared the people of God to a human body (1 Cor 12:14-27). Every body part is important: the hand, the eye, the foot. Just consider the gifts brought by L.G.B.T. Catholics who work in parishes, schools, chanceries, retreat centers, hospitals and social service agencies. Here’s an example from my life: Some of the most gifted music ministers I have known in my almost 30 years as a Jesuit have been gay men, who have brought tremendous joy to their parishes. And they themselves are among the most joyful people I know in the church.

        And an aside, I’m disheartened by the trend, in a few places, of firing L.G.B.T. men and women. Of course church organizations have the authority to require their employees to follow church teachings. The problem is that this authority is applied in a highly selective way. Almost all the firings in recent years have focused on L.G.B.T. matters. Specifically, these firings have most often related to those employees who have entered into same-sex marriages, which is against church teaching, and where one or another partner has a public role in the church.

        But if adherence to church teaching is going to be a litmus test for employment in Catholic institutions, then dioceses and parishes need to be consistent. Do we fire a straight man or woman who gets divorced and then remarries without an annulment? Divorce and remarriage of that sort is against church teaching. In fact, divorce is something Jesus himself forbade. Do we fire women who bear children out of wedlock? How about a person who is living with someone without being married? Those actions are against church teaching too.

        And what about church employees who are not Catholic? If we’re firing employees who do not agree with, or adhere to, church teaching, do we fire every Protestant who works in a Catholic institution, because they do not believe in papal authority? That’s an important church teaching. Do we fire Unitarians who do not believe in the Trinity? Do we fire all these people for all these things? No. Why not? Because we are selective about which church teachings matter.

        Moreover, requiring church employees to adhere to church teachings means, at a more fundamental level, adhering to the Gospel. To be consistent, we should fire people for not helping the poor, for not being forgiving and for not being loving. That may sound odd, but why should it? Jesus’s teachings are the most essential “church teachings.”

        The selectivity of focus on L.G.B.T. matters when it comes to firings is, to my mind, to use the words of the Catholic Catechism, a “sign of unjust discrimination,” something we are to avoid (No. 2358) Indeed, America magazine this week published an editorial that said, “The high public profile of these firings, combined with the apparent lack of due process and the absence of any comparable policing of marital status for heterosexual employees, constitute ‘signs of unjust discrimination’ and the church in the United States should do more to avoid them.”

        The editorial to which he refers can be accessed by linking here: https://newwaysministryblog.wordpress.com/2016/10/27/jesuit-weekly-criticizes-unjust-discrimination-against-lgbt-church-workers/

      • Eileen DiFranco November 4, 2016 / 4:48 pm

        Few confront the power of the bullies who run the church. Fear makes all of the ordained tip toe through the real evil that men like Chaput- and now Francis with his anti-woman statement-rain down upon the People of God. There is rarely, if ever, any substantive response from priests who hold their vow of obedience to men with clay feet of more importance than following the command of Jesus to love neighbor as self. These men – who believe that they act in the image of jesus- should be horrified at what happened to William and should say publicly that they would never do this in their own parishes. But they won’t and so the evil continues and the more charitable priests pat themselves on the back by continuing their little acts of disobedience behind the bishop’s back. And nothing changes because people are afraid. Most of the flock won’t say anything public either lest their parish be sold and declared dead. Chaput and Co. and NOT good people. I am not sure why anyone would remain faithful to a bully.

      • Wilhelm Wonka November 4, 2016 / 4:37 pm

        Thomas, this blog for one is their way of combating the “evil” of Archbishop Chaput.

      • Mary BS November 4, 2016 / 4:40 pm

        It’snot Fr. Jim’s place to go after the Cardinal. BTW, the Cardinal could react by disallowing Fr. Jim from speaking within the diocese, if he went head to head on this. This is a very sad episode and I am ashamed that such a good man as Wiliam is has been excluded from the fellowship of Lectors. I love lectoring and would be crestfallen to be excluded. Daylesford Abbey has been known as a wonderful welcoming and holy place. Sadly, William’s story doesn’t reinforce that reputation.

  21. Lucille Winnike November 4, 2016 / 11:57 am

    I’m sorry, this never should have happened. S. Lucille Winnike

  22. J Oechsle November 4, 2016 / 12:42 pm

    Thank you for your story. Charles Chaput has been successfully resisting the promptings of the Holy Spirit now for seventy years. So do his associated clerical ilk who do not seem to understand the foundational teachings of Jesus – mercy, compassion, healing, inclusion.

    The Chaputs of the world are the ones who are destroying the church of Christ. They are truly in the words of Vergil “inscius.”

    I am very disappointed at the abbott. We need pastors with backbone who can resist injustice. If no one stands up to the evil, the good will suffer. What does Antonucci have to lose? Not his job for sure!

  23. I am so sorry to hear of this “expulsion” of William and Jim. It is the saddest dynamic going on in our Church at the moment. I pray to God that you seek and find a Catholic community in Philadelphia that welcomes you, and where you can share your gifts. They do exist and practice the path in which Pope Francis leads–a pastoral outreach to the marginalized, rather than a doctrinal division to be pure. Every Sunday the Gospel shows us this teaching and action by Jesus. Please, God, deliver us from this divisiveness and heal your Church.

    • Mary BS November 4, 2016 / 4:43 pm

      Thank you, Paul. We need to welcome William and Jim. I am so sad about this story. I have loved retreats at the Abbey for years, but it’s impossible to feel the same.

  24. RecoveringCatholic November 4, 2016 / 12:52 pm

    I am so sorry that this happened to you. Thank you for your honesty and for sharing your story. That takes courage.
    It is heartbreaking that the Catholic church chooses to continue to deliberately harm those who are marginalized (LGBT). If they truly followed Jesus, they would welcome all, especially those marginalized. Instead, they behave in an anti-Christ fashion.
    I am so sorry about this. It’s difficult to deal with, though it does tend to get better with time (speaking from experience–fired for being lesbian).
    My thoughts are with you.❤

  25. ermadurk November 4, 2016 / 12:58 pm

    Oh, how cruel and incomprehensible! My heart bleeds for William and those who know and love him. God, have mercy on us.

  26. Eileen DiFranco November 4, 2016 / 1:48 pm

    Dear William, You are cordially welcome to worship at The Community of St. Mary Magdalene in Drexel Hill. We are an open, inclusive catholic community that would value you and your husband. Please come and visit us. We are located at 600 Burmont Rd at the Drexel Hill United Methodist Church. We celebrate Mass at 9AM in the McBurney Chapel which is across School Street from the parking lot.

    • Wilhelm Wonka November 4, 2016 / 1:54 pm

      Power to ya!

  27. José Vieira Arruda November 4, 2016 / 1:55 pm

    Dear William, After reading your story I felt a great pain in my heart. I am very sorry that this has happened to you. So sorry that it continues to happen to so many of us… I am so sorry that Abbot Richard Antonucci did not stand by you, that he felt the need to impose this unfair and unjust clerical decision… so much fear, so much injustice, going on in the RC Church… When will the laity rise and scream: Enough is enough? Here in Mexico, the RC Church is in such a mess… and so many people are being abused, so many people hurting… From the city of Mérida, Yucatán, from Saint Luke’s Anglican Mission, I embrace you. God bless you. Always.

  28. mwhiteshaheen November 4, 2016 / 3:38 pm

    This hurts my heart greatly. You are a beautiful man, with a beautiful spirit and SO MUCH TO CONTRIBUTE!!! This all makes me so darn furious; I sent the pope a note, along with a copy of the newspaper article about a man dismissed from his choir because he was legally married to his spouse. (I got a blessed Pope card in reply….I was hoping for something a little more personal….) What – it’s okay, as long as WE DON’T KNOW ABOUT IT? I mean = come on! All beautiful things -music, poetry, writing, art – so much of it comes from beautiful souls – lots of them gay! I have children in Catholic school; and I am proud to be raising beautiful children. But I am equally proud that we have friends who are gay, lesbian, black, Jewish, Muslim. The greatest gift I can leave my children is the gift that people are to be loved – not IN SPITE of their sexual orientation, gender or color or religion – but BECAUSE all people are worthy of love. Please know that the GREAT MAJORITY of Catholics that I know do NOT support this kind of (for lack of a better word) craziness. May you find a welcome place – a church that not only supports you but NEEDS you and EMBRACES you and all of the spirit, talent and vigor that you bring with you. Also, I wish you MANY YEARS of happiness with Jim!

  29. Wilhelm Wonka November 4, 2016 / 4:28 pm

    William, I hope you and Jim take great heart from the support and fellowship expressed for you in these comments.

    Mark this: Chaput, and his kind, won’t have the last word on this.

    Nor the last laugh.

  30. nancywebbstroud November 4, 2016 / 5:33 pm

    I am so sorry to read of this. I met you once at St. Peter’s in the Great Valley when I was associate rector there (2006-2009). I was also on the board of ECS and worked with Jim on a committee. First: blessings and congratulations to you and Jim. Second: I am sorry that I am no longer in PA so that I might offer you a personal welcome to The Episcopal Church, where you will find a warm welcome, great liturgy, and the opportunity to use your gifts. Even though I cannot do this personally, I can give you some recommendations of parishes where you would receive those things and undoubtedly give as much or more to the life of the community. I grieve with you over this injustice and pray for the day when God’s people are truly one.

  31. Emma Lapsansky November 4, 2016 / 7:09 pm

    Bill, the soul you carry is clearly bigger, richer, wider, more “Christian” than the souls of those who condemn you! Thank you and Jim for being the wonderful souls that you are, and for letting the many of us love and admire you.

  32. Friends November 4, 2016 / 9:29 pm

    An absolutely record-shattering response to this article — like nothing else I’ve ever seen here! As a fellow Yale grad school alum, he and I doubtless walked the same streets and the same halls of HGS. And “The Pub” — (the name of Yale’s quasi-underground gay bar) — is probably familiar to him as well. All I can say is that Chaput had better get himself a damned fancy lawyer — I use the term “damned” with deliberate purpose — when he comes to face Divine Judgment for the crimes against Caritas that he has committed, and that he continues to commit, with apparent impunity from Papal intervention and rectification.

  33. Larry November 4, 2016 / 11:49 pm

    To Mary BS’s comment that Fr. Jim should not confront Chaput because he would silence Fr. Jim in his Diocese I would ask you to think about what you said. Chaput wants people to be silent about his un-Chirstian actions and if Fr. Jim is afraid to speak up then Chaput gets what he wants without any effort and anyway Fr. Jim has a national platform that transcends Philadelphia so he should have little fear of Chaput. What he might have a fear of is losing his place as a “reasonable” national Catholic voice. Since Chaput is one of the clearest examples of a man who uses his power for his own ends and not Christ”s, it takes bravery to confront him.

    • Thomas Smith November 5, 2016 / 1:25 pm

      I recall one of Sr. Jeannine’s most profound quotes, when she was facing her “alligators” in Rome. She said, “I refuse to cooperate in my own oppression.” This seems not only sound political advice like in Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience”, but sound moral advice when choosing (or not) to confront injustice in the Church. Am I wrong to interpret Sr. Jeannine as disavowing silence as a successful tactic for change? The Berrigan brothers worked “through the system” but they also got arrested. Granted this kind of activism isn’t right for everyone. We are grateful to Fr. Martin and New Ways’ public voice, but maybe a more active strategy could also be considered as well.

  34. Vincenzo November 5, 2016 / 4:13 am

    Dear William,

    These happenings make me profoundly sad, and at the same time profoundly angry. One of the principal charisms of a Christian is to stand with those on the periphery, and to draw them into the centre, irrespective of the personal consequences. Chaput doesn’t appear to share in this charism. Those clerics who obey him out of fear for their careers don’t appear to share in this charism either.

    I pray that you will find a welcoming community which embraces you and your considerable gifts, including your beloved husband! I wish you strength and comfort in this turbulent time.

    Looking around, I get the sense that a profound shift is underway … Pope Francis calls for pastoral accompaniment of those who have been marginalized by the present-day pharisees … he even speaks of the need of an apology to LGBT folk. What he needs to realize is that any apology that is conditional is not going to be acceptable … for then, it would be better to remain silent! An authentic apology necessarily must include an apology for describing us as objectively disordered (since even our “inclination” is described as disordered) and our love-relationships as intrinsically evil. (It reminds me of the cartoon where a prelate is standing imperiously on the catherdral steps under a banner reading “Welcome, inherently disordered persons!”. A straight couple are passing by, walking their dog … the man remarks “Oh, how nice … they’re reaching out to the gays!”)

    God be with you, and hold you and your beloved close!

    Vincent

  35. Judith E Navetta November 5, 2016 / 1:45 pm

    Dear William,

    There are no words to truly express how heartbroken I am after reading your story. Once again our Catholic Church has disgracefully turned it’s back on a loyal and faithful Catholic man, who is harshly judged and sentenced to a punishment inflicted on him by someone (Chaput) who doesn’t even know him. I believe Jesus weeps!

    I am a PFLAG mom who has seen the cruleness show towards the LGBTQ community by some in our church. While the Bishops make statements of love and acceptance for all of God’s children, they continually walkback their “empty words” showing how shallow they are. But always remember that there are so many of us who walk and advocate for you and Jim in your time of pain. WE are the church!!! And as another faithful gay couple suffer through this, Jesus weeps!

    God bless you and Jim. Be assured of my prayers for strength and courage.

    In hope,
    Judith

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