Edmonton Mayor’s Gay Pride Brunch Held in Catholic Church Hall

Archbishop aware of upcoming event but did not cancel it fearing of legal repercussions


By Elizabeth O’Brien and John-Henry Westen

  EDMONTON, June 20, 2007 ( - As parishioners of St. Andrews Catholic Church in Edmonton exited Mass last Sunday, some were shocked to find homosexual activists purchasing tickets for a "Gay Pride Brunch" which was being held in the Catholic building.  The building encompasses a Catholic Church and the St. Andrew’s Centre, a senior’s independent living centre.

  Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel hosted the "Mayor’s Pride Brunch" which took place in the banquet facilities of the centre which lies in very close proximity to the 24-hour Eucharistic adoration chapel. Proceeds from the brunch go to support Camp fYrefly which is, according to its website "Canada’s largest leadership retreat for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-identified, two-spirited, queer, and allied (LGBTTQ&A) youth." has learned that the Archbishop’s office knew of the homosexual event prior to its’ occurrence but did not act to forbid the homosexual pride event from Church premises out of concern for legal repercussions.

In 2005, the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal ordered that the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic organization, pay a lesbian couple damages for refusing to rent them a hall for their same-sex "wedding." (see coverage: )

  According to parishioner Lonny D’Agostini, newly installed Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith was informed of the event by himself and several other parishioners six days prior to the brunch.  D’agostini told that "the bishop said that he did not want any visible protest but that we were free to pray for those people (the homosexuals)."

  The St. Andrew’s Centre, while being partially a public building, has as its primary shareholder and owner the Archbishop of Edmonton.

  The Centre was hesitant to cancel the event because of possible legal repercussions involved in canceling a contract. The management admits, however, that the brunch was a mistake. Mark Barylo, Senior Manager in charge of St. Andrew’s Centre, told, "In booking the event, Centre staff didn’t ask all the appropriate questions for this particular event. As a result, the centre is going to review its policies and procedures when it comes to booking outside groups into the Centre. We are going to try our best to ensure that this situation doesn’t arise again."

  Booked as the "Mayor’s Pride Brunch," the event may have escaped detection as a gathering of homosexual activists.

  Some are asking however why mayor Mandel, who is not a Catholic, would impose a homosexual pride event on a Catholic facility. 

  One such Catholic is Mayoral candidate Bill Whatcott who happened to be at Mass Sunday and was outraged by what he saw taking place.  Whatcott told he was dragged off Catholic Church property and told not to return by two Edmonton plainclothes policemen after he entered the hall and vocally protested the brunch as it was taking place.

  In comments to Whatcott described his outrage, saying "This is really a desecration. This is really bigoted." They "wouldn’t dare do that to a mosque," he added.

  Whatcott said that Sunday’s run-in with the homosexual activists and the police was an interesting coincidence. In his election platform, Whatcott vehemently defends traditional marriage and family.  Those organizing Mayor Mandel’s brunch had no idea that St. Andrew’s was Whatcott’s parish or that he would protest on Sunday. approached the Mayor’s office and asked why he chose a specifically Catholic institution to host an event that supports a lifestyle in direct contradiction to Church teaching. The office briefly indicated that the Centre should look into its own booking procedures.

  The Archbishop’s office did not comment to by press time.

  To respectfully make your voice heard:

  Mayor Stephen Mandel
  2nd Floor, City Hall
  1 Sir Winston Churchill Square
  Edmonton, AB T5J 2R7
  Phone: (780) 496-8100
  Fax: (780) 496-8292
  Email: [email protected]

  Archbishop Richard Smith
  Archdiocese of Edmonton
  8421 - 101 Avenue, Edmonton, AB, T6A 0L1
  Phone: (780) 469-1010  
  Fax (780) 465-3003
  Email: [email protected]

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