Report: gay man in Michigan removed from parish ministry after “commitment ceremony”

Report: gay man in Michigan removed from parish ministry after “commitment ceremony” June 18, 2014

This story isn’t that unusual. But the swift response from the bishop is.


A gay man in Marquette was told he can no longer have an active role in his Catholic church after he and his longtime partner held a commitment ceremony, according to news reports out of Northern Michigan.

Bobby Glenn Brown and his partner ,Don Roberts, held a ceremony celebrating 31 years together among friends and family on Saturday, June 14. The next day, officials at St. Michael Parish said he couldn’t continue his role on the pastoral council or positions of cantor, lector and a member of the choir, reported.

Brown was told he could sit in the vestibule and listen to the service.

The priest said because of his ceremony, he would no longer be able to minister, Brown told public radio WNMU in Marquette. He walked out and was joined by five other parishioners.

Brown said he didn’t hide the fact that he’s gay, according to the interview with WNMU, and had previously felt “welcomed and loved” at the church.

Bishop John Doerfler of the Diocese of Marquette said the public nature of Brown’s
relationship goes against Catholic principles, according to UpperMichigansSource. Doerfler said Brown’s commitment ceremony would indicate it is permissible to act on same-sex attractions and “that’s where the disconnect is from the church’s teachings.”

Read more. 

Another report adds:

In a written statement Bishop John Doerfler says “Everyone is invited to follow Jesus Christ and is invited to be a part of the Catholic Church. One of the qualifications for the public ministry within the Catholic Church is willingness to give witness to the Gospel and the Church’s teachings. Such ministries include serving at Mass as a lector or cantor. The inability to serve in a ministry does not disqualify a person from being a member of the Church.”

To me, this seems incomplete. I’d like to hear the parish’s version of what happened.

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