Thursday, January 18, 2007

Gay rights supporter splits from priesthood

I found this article by Michael Clancy from yesterday's Arizona Republic to be quite interesting, although it has more to do with church reform than with celibacy. Here are the most relevant excerpts and you can go to the newspaper Web site for the full article .

A Catholic priest who clashed with Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted over gay issues and other matters has left the priesthood after taking a yearlong leave of absence.

Chris Carpenter said he is concerned about the church's outreach to gay members and "the current state of church leadership."

"The enforcement of church doctrine and liturgical practice are taking a step backward to the pre-Vatican II era," he said, referring to the 1960s council on adapting the church to the modern world.

"Attempting to turn back the clock and re-create a time when the Catholic Church enjoyed greater authority and respect culturally is not a realistic way to deal with current problems and challenges."

..."From now on, I won't formally identify myself as a priest or as 'Father' or dress as one," he said in a statement.

Carpenter, who was ordained in 1995 by Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien and served for more than eight years as pastor of Christ the King parish in Mesa, was a leader in the gay-advocate group No Longer Silent: Clergy for Justice. He was one of nine priests who signed the organization's Phoenix Declaration, which affirmed the right of gay men, lesbians and others to participate in Christian churches.

Olmsted ordered the priests to remove their signatures in May 2004.

Six of the priests who signed the document are no longer working as Catholic priests.

Carpenter said the bishop's order destroyed many priests' efforts to bring gay members back to the church, wounded relationships with other Christian leaders, and damaged hopes for a good relationship with Olmsted.

It's wonderful that these men have had the courage to stand up for justice in our Church but it's too bad that because of this bishop's intolerance, he has lost several valuable priests.

The No Longer Silent Web site has also posted the letter of one of the signatories of the Phoenix Declaration, Fr. André Boulanger, to Bishop Olmsted. The letter challenges the Church's teaching that homosexuality is an "intrinsic disorder." Fr. Boulanger, who has retired, states that "in the end I found it necessary as a matter of conscience not to withdraw my name from the Declaration. Not so much because I know the Declaration to be fair, just and a document in keeping with Christian principles, but because of the manner in which the topic of homosexuality is addressed in many documents and pronouncements issued by church authorities."

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