Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I got to meet a hero today

At a press conference today at Dignity House in Highland Park I got to meet Fr. Geoff Farrow ... the Roman Catholic priest who has risked so much to speak truth to power on behalf of the LGBT faithful.

Here's Fr. Geoff with Our Lady of Guadalupe over one shoulder and the Call to Action spokesperson over the other.

I was particularly moved by how profoundly he understands the stand he is taking to be a PASTORAL position (with political implications.)
Here's the statement Fr. Geoff offered today (as posted on his blog:)
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.
I was deeply grateful to be there to witness HIS witness ... along with other courageous Roman Catholic leaders ... modeling that faithful Catholics CAN vote No on 8 ... and also to be joined by Episcopal colleagues: Mark Hallahan+ (Chair of the Bishop's Commission on Gay and Lesbian Ministry) and Canon Lydia Lopez (Diocesan Communication Office.)
For all that I was so very grateful to be amongst so great a cloud of witnesses, how it must grieve the heart of God that we ... all of us ... are spending our time, energy and resources responding to this $24-million-plus campaign to mobilize bigotry and to write discrimination into the California Constitution in the name of "Family Values."
TWENTY FOUR MILLION DOLLARS ... while there are children who go to bed hungry and we have families without healthcare while others are facing foreclosure, eviction and homelessness.
No wonder Jesus wept.
Fr. Geoff asked in his interview earlier this week in the Los Angeles Times: "How is marriage protected by intimidating gay and lesbian people into loveless and lonely lives?"
He answered his own question in today's press conference. In English and in Spanish. And let's pray that there were those with ears to hear and hearts to listen and minds to change -- that the sacrifices this brave priest is making on behalf of the Gospel will bear the fruit of the defeat of Proposition 8 on the November 4th ballot.


John I. said...

Mother Susan,
This picture brought tears to my eyes! God bless you both!!!

your brother in XC,
John I.

FranIAm said...

This is great to see and to read about. As a Catholic I am so grateful for Fr. Geoff's witness and his courage.

DavidJustinLynch said...

So why not invite him to become a priest in the Episcopal Church, where he would be wanted and needed? Perhaps you can arrange an intro to Jon Bruno for this quality human being who would be a real assset to the Diocese of Los Angeles.

Fr. Marty Kurylowicz said...

This is such good news about Father (Geoffrey) Geoff Farrow.

I feel that it is so important that many LGBTQ people, their parents, families and friends know that they are not alone in all places of worship, even including the Catholic Church.

Father Geoff public words of support on October 5, 2008 and since for LGTBQ people are also felt by their parents, families and friends. Often people do not realize how harmful their homophobia words and actions are to LGBTQ people but also to their parents, families and friends.

It was said that half the congregation at mass with Fr. Farrow on October 5, 2008 stood up in support of his words of truth for LGBTQ people. Fr. Farrow is clearly drawing attention to the fact that the number of LGBTQ people is much larger, likely closer to a majority, when we include their parents, families and friends who support them. The body of Christ is one; we hurt no one without hurting many others besides. The Catholic doctrine on the body of Christ includes everyone who was born, is alive and will be born – all people.

The point is that we are never allowed to indiscriminately hurt people.

Abel said...

Rev. Russell and Fr.Farrow. Your voice reminds me the prophet Amos:
Let justice roll on like a river,and righteousness like a never-failing stream!
Thanks for your witness.

RonF said...

It was said that half the congregation at mass with Fr. Farrow on October 5, 2008 stood up in support of his words of truth for LGBTQ people.

And thus half did not. So Fr. Geoff, who's freely accepted mission is to unite his parish in Christ, instead divided it. Nice.

RonF said...

Fr. Geoff asked in his interview earlier this week in the Los Angeles Times: "How is marriage protected by intimidating gay and lesbian people into loveless and lonely lives?"

Hm. So homosexuals have loveless and lonely lives because they can't marry? That's not the testimony I've heard on this blog or others. Various homosexual couples have been held up as exemplars of love and togetherness. Fr. Geoff is using a straw man argument to advance the cause he feels is more important than the one he swore to do.


ron ... Far from offering a "straw man" arugment, Fr. Geoff was explaining what the impact of the pastoral letter he was being asked to support was going to have on some of the people he was called to pastor.

The Roman Catholic Church's official position DOES indimidate gay and lesbian people into the closet ... asking them to choose between the church and the love of their life.

It's JUST PLAIN WRONG and God Bless Fr. Geoff for standing up to say so.

uffda51 said...

Until and unless the Catholic Church sanctions a specific procedure for “priests who wish to come out during an election campaign containing a proposition which seeks to enshrine religious bigotry in the state constitution of California,” some people will just have to content themselves with judgment and disappointment.

Given the historically slow pace of the Catholic Church in responding to reality (see: Galileo) Fr. Geoff chose to act now. Heroically, in my book.