Friday, October 31, 2008

Bishop Terminates Gay Priest's Job, Faculties, Salary and Health Benefits

In an article in today's print edition the National Catholic Reporter says that the bishop of Fresno has suspended Geoffrey Farrow, the diocesan priest who said the California bishops were wrong to oppose gay marriage (see post of October 9th, below). A Google search on the priest's name finds more information than NCR included in its report.

First, Father Geoff started
a blog October 7th to address the rationale for his actions and chronicle the fallout he was sure would follow. The blog begins with the text of his October 4th Sunday sermon, discusses his suspension, and has postings through yesterday on his continuing efforts to defeat California's Proposition 8. He also has a national and international audience so far of 166 people who have listed themselves as followers of his blog.

Second, an article published October 13th by two staff writers in the
Los Angeles Times makes it clear that "suspension" barely begins to describe the extent of the bishop's retaliation.

Farrow, 50, has been a priest for 23 years, but except for coming out to his family and a few close friends over the years, never thought of declaring his sexuality publicly or challenging the church's political stance on gay rights.

That changed after he read the bishop's June 30th pastoral letter against gay marriage, which he found at odds with contemporary psychology, his personal experience and the church's own statements that some people experience homosexual orientation as a given that cannot be changed.

But when he did, the bishop not only removed Farrow from his job as pastor of St. Paul Newman Center, which serves students and faculty at Cal State Fresno; he also revoked his faculties to function as a priest anywhere in the Fresno diocese and terminated Farrow's salary and benefits, including health insurance. According to the Times, the bishop also hinted he might remove Farrow from the priesthood altogether.

The bishop has yet to address the central questions Farrow raised in his sermon: "How exactly is society helped by singling out a minority and excluding them from the union of love and life, which is marriage? How is marriage protected by intimidating gay and lesbian people into loveless and lonely lives?"

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