The men pictured above are two of three gay guys who are at the centre of a controversy that erupted in a tight-knit Roman Catholic Church parish north of Minneapolis–Saint Paul, Minnesota.
Last month Travis Loeffler, left, Bob Bernard and Dominic Mitchell were dismissed from their churches’ choirs after a newly appointed priest – Father John Drees – discovered they were in same sex marriages.
According to this report, Loeffler and Bob Bernard are longtime members of St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Taylors Falls and had served in the choir for a combined 22 years. Their roles in the ministry, however, came to an abrupt last December when Drees – in his first year with the parish – dismissed them both.
Loeffler’s husband Dominic Mitchell was simultaneously dismissed from his role with St Francis Xavier in Franconia.
Drees denies the move was due to the men’s sexual orientation, with Loeffler still waiting for an official explanation. Bernard, however, says the reason was clear to him from the beginning.
Drees, according to this report, has refused to publicly comment on the issue, and has not talked about the dismissals in sermons, but he has reportedly questioned why he didn’t find out about the gay marriages until months into his job.
[I was let go] because I entered into a civil marriage with another man. We understand what the church’s teachings are on marriage at the same time I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.
Chris Hudspeth, a trustee, said that he explained to the priest that such is the makeup of the community.
That’s why a lot of people come to Taylors Falls and St Croix Falls, (Wis) – it’s an inclusive community, and that’s why he didn’t hear anything.
In the wake of the sacking, another church Trustee Larry Julik-Heine stepped down from his position in peaceful protest.
We’re all entitled to be treated with respect and dignity. I examined my conscience and I just couldn’t support it.
Despite the incident, he remains a loyal St Joseph’s parishioner.
Bernard, who was dismissed as the parish’s only on-staff musician, insisted that he doesn’t want the issue:
To turn out to be another ‘bash the Catholic Church’ story, and we’re emphatic about that.
He said that protests and controversy would be harmful to the parish he has always loved, and cause “trauma” to many that he loves.