Anti-gay message in Catholic parish bulletin sparks outrage

People in eastern Ontario's Prince Edward County are showing support for the gay community after a message in a Picton church bulletin warned that Catholics and Christians should stay away from "harmful" Pride events.

The message appeared in this week's St. Gregory The Great Roman Catholic Church bulletin.

Tucked between a notice for a pot luck supper and gratitude for donations for a new church door, the message in full reads:

A reminder that Catholics and all other Christians should not attend LGBTQ2 "Pride Month" events held this month. They promote a culture and encourage activities that are contrary to Christian faith and morals. This is especially harmful to children because it could lead them away from God's revealed Truth. Even in "The County" there are Pride flags and banners flying courtesy of the Government. Think.........these are your tax dollars at work!

After complaints about the message surfaced on Facebook, it was removed from the bulletin on the church's website.


'One deranged view'

Nat Wollenberg, a business owner whose children go to the St. Gregory Catholic School in the parish, said the message came from the office of St. Gregory's pastor, Father R.J. Chisholm.

"It's shameful," Wollenberg said.

"This is what people are going to see of Picton. This is not a correct representation of our town or our community. This is just one man with one deranged view."

Wollenberg first learned about the message Thursday evening and said her social media feed was soon buzzing with anger.

On Friday morning, teachers at St. Gregory greeted students with Pride flags and banners.

"We've always encouraged diversity, whether it be race, religion, sexual orientation. It's upsetting our friends, family and really jolted our whole community," said Wollenberg, who does not attend Catholic church.

'I was appalled'

Nikki Crenna, chair of St. Gregory Catholic School's parent council, said she wants to be clear that the church and the K-Grade 8 school operate independently.

"I was appalled by the messaging that runs counter to everything the school stands for. The school has a mandate to being welcoming and inclusive of everyone," she said.

Crenna, who is Catholic, decided not to send her children to mass on Friday in protest.

"Pope Francis, since his election in 2013, has spoken about the need to welcome and include our brothers and sisters in the LGBTQ2 community, and this flies directly in the face of the papal edict," she said.

Archbishop says pastor 'regrets' hurt caused

Questions about the message were directed to the Archdiocese of Kingston, which overseas the St. Gregory parish. The archdiocese told CBC it received several calls about the matter, and is taking it seriously.

In an emailed statement, Archbishop of Kingston Michael Mulhall wrote that he "did not sanction this message, and it does not reflect the spirit of accompanying charity and compassion that should always characterize our faith.

"The Archdiocese has spoken with the pastor of the parish. He regrets any hurt that his inappropriate comments have caused."

A Prince Edward County community page on Facebook is encouraging families to join a peaceful protest outside the church on Sunday morning in support of Pride.