Catholic diocese cancels gala fundraiser rather than host entertainer in a gay ‘marriage’
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina, March 14, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – A U.S. Catholic diocese called off an annual charitable event rather than host a performer living in obvious violation of Church teaching on marriage.
The Diocese of Charlotte, N.C., confirmed for LifeSiteNews it did not follow through with its March 12 Catholic Charities Gala for Hope in Asheville once it learned the entertainer booked for the event is in a homosexual “marriage,” and said that it was not acceptable for the diocese to have someone perform at one of its events while the person is in open conflict with Church teaching.
Singer Katrina (Kat) Williams appeared the last two years for the event and was booked to perform again, but said she was informed March 1 by Catholic Charities Executive Director Gerry Carter she would not be needed for this year’s event because Charlotte Bishop Peter Jugis had read a 2013 magazine article where she’d been quoted saying she had been “married” to her female partner for seven years.
Director of Communications David Hains emphasized that “the Catholic Church believes and teaches that all persons, regardless of their sexual orientation, are deserving of respect and lives of dignity,” but that the Church’s teaching on marriage was clear.
“We are called to follow the words of Scripture and the teaching of the Catholic Church which clearly state that marriage can only exist between one man and one woman,” Hains told LifeSiteNews. “It is unacceptable for us to knowingly allow someone to perform at one of our events while that person is in open opposition to our teaching.”
He confirmed as well the diocese was not previously aware that Williams was in a homosexual “marriage.”
The diocese postponed the Gala indefinitely because of the situation, saying in a March 10 statement:
As most are aware, there has been controversy surrounding the entertainment at this year’s event. Although the funds generated from this fundraiser help support critical services to thousands of individuals living in poverty, now seems to be the time to postpone the event indefinitely in order to focus our energies on the task which is our charge – to serve those who come through our doors in search of material and human support. Our goal each day is to improve the lives of those who come to us in need.
But Hains said Catholic Charities’ work would continue uninterrupted despite the fundraiser’s postponement.
“Catholic Charities Diocese of Charlotte has three offices in the western part of North Carolina that serve thousands,” he said. “We have no plans to change the services we offer or the work we do to meet the human service needs of the people in need, regardless of their religion, in our diocese.”
Williams claimed in a March 5 Facebook post she was fired from the event because of her sexual orientation.
“Kat Williams Fired by Catholic Charities for Being Gay!” it stated, asking readers to share the post.
However, the Church distinguishes between “being gay” and committing homosexual acts. The Church teaches that the homosexual inclination (i.e. the temptation to commit homosexual acts), while a disorder in the person’s sexuality, is not sinful in itself; however, homosexual acts are gravely sinful.
Williams also claimed she was being discriminated against in the social media post, and said she “could handle” it, but that she was afraid for homosexual members of the Church under Bishop Jugis.
She went on to say she was hurt and saddened, and proud to identify as homosexual, and that the local religious community should “stand with the teachings of Christ.”
“This is the first time I've been fired from a performance solely based on who I chose to love,” Williams stated. “There are two things in my life I didn't choose, to be Black and to be gay! I am proud to be both and want our North Carolina religious community to stand with the teachings of Christ - love, forgiveness, tolerance and inclusion.”
“I don't want people to retaliate or put forth any negativity,” she continued. “I'd like us as a community to approach this issue with Love, Compassion and Grace,” before providing links to other charities for readers to support that were “inclusive.”
Williams was paid for the Catholic Charities engagement regardless, but Hains was unable to confirm whether some individuals who’d planned to attend had changed their minds or rescinded their contribution to Catholic Charities because of what happened with Williams, as she’d stated in media reports, because the diocese does not discuss individual giving.
Hains had told the media as well that Williams was owed an apology, but clarified for LifeSiteNews, “The apology was only for the confusion regarding her hire.”
Bishop Jugis is known for publicly defending the Catholic Church’s moral principles in the past.
The Charlotte prelate intervened last year and directed one of the diocese’s parishes to cancel a scheduled talk by a dissident nun censured for years by both the US Bishops’ Conference and the Vatican for her continuous public contradiction of Catholic Church teaching on homosexuality.
He also backed Dominican Sister Jane Dominic Laurel in 2014 after the nun gave a speech explaining Catholic teaching on sexuality to students at Charlotte Catholic High School and her talk was met with backlash from parents and students from the school.
Bishop Jugis was one of the many bishops to speak against the University of Notre Dame’s infidelity to Catholic identity when the school honored Barack Obama in 2009 despite his rabid pro-abortion stance.
He stressed at the time that defending the sanctity of life warranted a multi-layered approach involving both a Catholic witness and catechesis, and that public outcry over Notre Dame’s decision must be accompanied by ongoing catechesis in parishes
“The problem of the lack of respect for the right to life of the unborn is so serious in our society that this multi-front approach is essential, Bishop Jugis wrote in the Catholic News & Herald at the time. “This is a task for laity, clergy, religious, parents and teachers - in short, for everyone.”