Monday, October 06, 2008

Coming Out... and Heading Out

Among the local issues garnering heat in this year's cycle is marriage; no fewer than four states have placed constitutional amendments defining the institution as an opposite-sex union on the ballot... but of the bunch, none is as heated as the fight over California's Proposition 8, which has racked up more donations and rhetoric from both sides than all prior state efforts combined.

As expected, the state's bishops have placed themselves firmly in the measure's "yea" corner, "strongly encourag[ing]" not just votes, but financial support in its favor. Yet just days after Coadjutor-Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento caused shockwaves by using a national convention of diocesan lesbian and gay ministries to make the church's case for 8, at Mass yesterday morning a Fresno college chaplain declared his objection from the pulpit... before heading for the door:

[H]is closing remarks left some parishioners stunned. "What most Catholics hear about being gay or lesbian at their parish is silence."

Fr. Geoff [Farrow] said [that] after numerous inquiries from parishioners asking for direction on Proposition 8... he must go against the Bishops recommendation and instead go with what he feels is right.

"In directing the faithful to vote yes on proposition 8, the California Bishops are not only entering the political arena, they are ignoring the advances and insights of neurology, psychology and the very statements by the church itself that homosexual is innate," says Fr. Geoff.

The priest acknowledges his controversial comments will have consequences. "I know that these words of truth will cost me dearly. But to withhold them would be far more costly and I would become an accomplice to a moral evil that strips gay and lesbian couples, not only of their civil rights but of their human dignity as well."...

Fr. Geoff said after months of struggling with what to do, said in the end he followed his heart. "In any event regardless of what I or anyone else does in their life, one day you die, and on that day were you true to your conscience, were you true to what you believe. And I think that's the question each of us has to answer. If the answer is no, hell already began before you died."

The parish is clearly divided over this controversy. A few parishioners left in tears.

Homily fulltext.

In an interview with the local ABC affiliate -- whose cameras were present for the morning liturgy -- Farrow outed himself. By this afternoon, Fresno Bishop John Steinbock told the AP that the cleric had cleared out of his office and residence. Farrow's said to be currently staying with friends.