Marquette Catholic bishop responds to removal of gay man from ministry duties

Yesterday, we reported on a parishioner at St. Michael’s in Marquette who was removed from his ministry duties after it was discovered that he had taken part in a same-sex commitment ceremony with his partner.

Today, the U.P.’s Catholic bishop has made a statement in response to the story.

Bobby Glenn Brown was a cantor, lector and choir member at St. Michael’s Parish for the past three years. He’s been with his partner for 31 years. The two men held a commitment ceremony on Saturday.

Father Larry Van Damme, a pastor at St. Michael’s, told Brown on Sunday that he could no longer perform his ministry duties.

“In the Catholic Church, we love and embrace and want to include among our members persons with same-sex attraction,” Bishop John Doerfler said in a news conference today. “Having a same-sex attraction in no way will disqualify someone from being a member of the Church, and we also give people the benefit of the doubt that people tend to live chastely.”

Bishop Doerfler says that to the Church, having same-sex attractions and acting on them publicly are two different matters. The bishop says it was the commitment ceremony, and only the ceremony, that disqualified Brown from ministry.

“If someone were to give some type of public affirmation that it’s morally OK to act on those attractions, that’s where the departure would be,” he said. “The commitment ceremony would indicate that it would be permissible to act on those attractions, and that’s where the disconnect is from the Church’s teaching.”

Brown says he’ll find another, more accepting place to worship.

We attempted to speak with Father Van Damme on Monday but were unable to do so. Bishop Doerfler says it would be difficult for Father Van Damme to speak to the media out of a need to keep conversations with parishioners that concern pastoral care confidential.