Earlier today, Fr. Geoffrey Farrow held a press conference in Los Angeles at which he read the statement below.
As regular readers would know, Geoff Farrow is a Roman Catholic priest courageously speaking out in opposition to Proposition 8, an initiative that would eliminate the right for same sex couples to marry in California. As a result of his speaking out, Farrow has been suspended as a priest and removed as pastor of his parish by Bishop John Steinbock of the Diocese of Fresno.
You can be a good and faithful Catholic and vote NO on Proposition 8.
Many priests, nuns and ordinary Catholics will vote NO on Proposition 8 because they believe that taking away civil rights from same sex couples is wrong and strips them not only of civil rights but, also of basic human dignity. I know this because they have expressed this to me directly. Many pastors simply refuse to say anything at all on the subject publicly. Most of my brother priests try to help Catholic same sex couples in the same fashion that they help Catholic heterosexual couples who use contraception or, who have divorced and remarried. We try to assist these souls in the confessional and in counseling sessions. We attempt to humanize what can otherwise be impossibly rigid doctrines that crush people or drive them away from the community of faith.
As an elderly Pastor once told me: “We are not technicians, we work with human lives.” People are not statistics, they are not a political issue, they are human beings. Initially, I too simply decided to remain silent. But then, more and more people came to me and asked for guidance on this issue. At the same time, the Diocese became more and more vocal in its support for Proposition 8 and began to organize lay people to vote yes on 8.
When I was asked to promote my congregation to vote yes on Proposition 8 I was placed in a position of having to choose between my position and the spiritual and emotional well being of those who I was called to serve. Theologians such as, St. Thomas Aquinas have taught of the primacy of one’s personal conscience because on the day that you die it will be your conscience that either acquits or condemns you before God.
In good conscience, I cannot place an impossibly heavy load on the backs of those entrusted to my pastoral care and leave them to fend for themselves as best they can. The cost of this would be abandonment of faith, possibly of God. It would probably contribute to isolation, depression and possible despair or, worse (especially for young people). I gave them the advice that most of them would receive privately from most priests, I simply did it openly at the end of Sunday Mass from the pulpit.
Following is one of the ads that have been made to encourage Californians to vote NO on Proposition 8.
Recommended Off-site Links:
Father Geoff Farrow’s Blog
Stand Against Prop. 8 Costs Priest Dearly - Duke Helfand and Catherine Saillant (Los Angeles Times, October 13, 2008).
Conservative Press-Enterprise Newspaper Opposes Prop. 8 - Timothy Kincaid (Box Turtle Bulletin, October 14, 2008).
Fr. Geoff Gets the True Christian Message - Michael in Norfolk (October 17, 2008).
See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
A Priest’s Courageous Act
Update on Fr. Geoff Farrow
Reflections on the Primacy of Conscience
The Question of an “Informed” Catholic Conscience
A Catholic Understanding of Faithful Dissent (Part 1)
A Catholic Understanding of Faithful Dissent (Part 2)
Truth Telling: The Greatest of Sins in a Dysfunctional Church
Another Victory in Connecticut
The Same People
What Straights Can Learn from Gay Marriage
Good News from the Golden State
Love is Love
The Changing Face of “Traditional Marriage”
Naming and Confronting Bigotry
The Real Gay Agenda
Civil Unions and Christian Tradition
Separate is Not Equal
Mainstream Voice of “Dear Abby” Supports Gay Marriage
New Studies: Gay Couples as Committed as Straight Couples
This “Militant Secularist” Wants to Marry a Man
Good News from Minnesota
Image: Francine Orr.