Canadian bishop explains attendance at installation of new openly gay military Chaplain General
OTTAWA, October 2, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Canadian Bishop Donald Thériault, Bishop of the Military Ordinariate of Canada, says that, whatever his personal reservations about his openly homosexual lifestyle, Brigadier General John Fletcher, the newly installed Chaplain General of the Canadian Armed Forces, was the right man for the job.
“He was the only one with the experience at all levels, and, as they say, crossing all the T’s, as he went along. And so there’s no question about his being the one person in the Canadian Forces in the Chaplaincy who was ready for that position,” said Thériault.
Fletcher was installed as the new Chaplain General September 4, in a ceremony attended by Bishop Thériault and clergy from other faiths and denominations. Fletcher is Canada's first openly gay chaplain to hold the position of Chaplain General. The event was also attended by Fletcher’s homosexual partner, to whom he is legally “married.”
Thériault, who is a member of the Interfaith Committee on Canadian Military Chaplaincy, said his presence at the ceremony was “an expected thing, no matter what my personal position was and what the Catholic Church’s position is on same-sex marriage.”
“It was my responsibility to be there and give support to his office, and not to him or his lifestyle,” he said. “I was there as a member of the Interfaith Committee. We are about ten members representing the denominations in Canada.”
Bishop Thériault said that members of the committee are customarily asked to “create a special blessing” for the installation of a new Chaplain General, “which is what we did and that is what you saw in the newspaper.”
The bishop added that he initially raised concerns about the appointment of Fletcher during a consultation where the Interfaith Committee weighed in on the decision making process.
“We had some concerns. Some other denominations were in the same position as I was, that we needed to consider very seriously what our position as a group was. But the group by-and-large thought that we needed to support his nomination. For one thing, there aren’t very many people who are ready to assume that position: there was only him.”
“And since same-sex marriage is acceptable in Canada, we can’t judge the person and his capacity to do the job based on his sexual orientation.”
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Bishop Thériault said that Fletcher made it clear to the committee that he was the right person for the job.
“I know that in his own mind he feels comfortable with who he is and how he is as a homosexual person, and has spoken to the Interfaith Committee and given a testimony to us about his own situation.”
“So we understand where he is coming from and we still love him as a Chaplain General and as an individual. And we’re going to support him in his task and that’s what our job is.”
Chaplains provide military personnel with “comprehensive religious and spiritual support, advice, and care, and contribute to the military as a whole,” according to the Canadian Armed Forces website.
The Catholic Church teaches that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered” and “contrary to the natural law.”