By Rodney Pelletier
A parish priest is telling an LGBT group they are "no longer welcome to exist" at the parish.
Father Gordon Mann, the pastor of St. Mary parish in Evansville, Ind., told Rainbow Catholics in Christ (RCC) they can't hold their monthly meetings at the parish, which they had been doing for 12 years, because they don't support Catholic Church teaching. The priest told the group in February, but RCC made it public last week.
The letter indicated the group could stay if they conform to the approved Catholic model used by the group Courage/Encourage.
Courage helps people who struggle with same-sex attraction (SSA) to live according to Catholic moral teaching. It encourages chastity, dedication to genuine Catholic spirituality and the frequent reception of the sacraments of confession and the Holy Eucharist. It also inspires members to help others struggling with SSA and to give a good example.
RCC members, however, don't want to run the group that way. The group's leader, Wally Paynter, maintains "spiritual and psychological harm" would be done to members if they followed the Church-approved Courage/Encourage guidelines.
The RCC has been pushing for people to accept homosexuality, which the Catholic Church teaches is "intrinsically disordered." People who speak at RCC functions include members of New Ways Ministry, a dissident Catholic group that has been censured by several American bishops and the Vatican. Among other things, they support Catholic acceptance of homosexual activity.
After the group left the parish they met at the local library and have found a new home at St. Lucan United Church of Christ.
A parishioner and member of RCC complained that up to now, St. Mary's "has been known as a safe space for all people, including LGBT+ Catholics. This is no longer the case." She also maintains the group has operated "openly for 12 years with the knowledge and consent of multiple pastors."
The diocese of Evansville released a statement saying: "The Church's respect for the dignity of every person as created in the image of God has remained consistent throughout time. Outreach to people across society — including the LGBT community here in the Tri-State and across the world — continues to be founded in that respect for the sacredness of every person. All are welcome."
ChurchMilitant.com has contacted the diocese, asking why the group has been allowed to exist on Catholic church property for 12 years. As of press time there has been no response.
Another member, Kelley Coures, says, "The group has an option to go and find a place that wants them and will celebrate them. They have an opportunity to grow into something else, but I'd hate for them to lose their Catholic identity."