NewsThu May 27, 2010 - 12:15 pm EST
‘Gay’ Ex-Altar Server Drops Human Rights Case against Bishop
By John-Henry Westen and Patrick Craine
PETERBOROUGH, Ontario, May 27, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The human rights complaint filed against Bishop Nicola De Angelis of Peterborough, Ontario over his decision to disallow an open homosexual from acting as an altar server in the diocese has been dropped without conditions.
The bishop met with the complainant Jim Corcoran, “in the spirit of peace and reconciliation,” in the bishop’s chancery office on May 21. According to the diocesan bulletin, “As a result of this meeting Mr. Corcoran has withdrawn his Human Rights application with no terms or conditions being requested or imposed on anyone.”
Throughout the public scrutiny of the case, which gained international attention, the bishop remained firm in his resolve not to permit the human rights mechanism to interfere in Church matters.
The complaint was filed with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal by Corcoran on June 17th, 2009 following the bishop's decision to ask him to cease altar-serving that April. Alleging discrimination based on sexual orientation, Corcoran sought up to $25,000 in damages from the bishop, and $20,000 each from 12 of his fellow parishioners at St. Michael's Church in Cobourg, whom he also named in the complaint.
The parishioners had written a letter to the bishop about Corcoran's service on the altar, citing a risk of public scandal because it was known that Corcoran lived with his same-sex partner.
The bishop and the parishioners were required to explain themselves to the Tribunal in written responses, which they did last summer.
It is believed that this is the first case in Canada to be accepted by a human rights tribunal that relates to the internal governance of the Church. The case has led to fears of serious repercussions for the Church's freedom in Canada.
Bishop De Angelis redressed the Tribunal's intrusion into the Church's internal affairs in a September pastoral letter to the parishes of his diocese. "I fail to understand how secular powers and government agencies should think they are in a position to tell the Church that she is wrong in her internal rules and regulations, even though these have directed and shaped the life of the Church during the last 2000 years. However, this is what we face today,” he wrote.
"If the Human Rights Tribunal should choose to interfere with the Church's governance, this will be most shocking," he added. "The Tribunal has no authority to place itself as an arbiter of canonical precepts."
Several groups including the Catholic Civil Rights League and Campaign Life Catholic denounced the Human Rights Tribunal for consenting to take the case, over which they had no jurisdiction.
Suresh Dominic of Campaign Life Catholic told LifeSiteNews, “We’re very thankful for the resolution of this case.” Dominic added: “From the outset it had much less to do with Jim Corcoran than with the Human Rights Tribunal thinking it could tell the Catholic Church how it should run itself. I pray we don’t see more of that, but given the direction these Tribunals have been going, I won’t be surprised to see it again.”
According to the diocesan bulletin, both the diocese and Mr. Corcoran will not be speaking to the media about the case.
Corcoran maintained throughout that although he was living with his homosexual partner, they did not engage in sexual activity.
“Following their meeting Bishop De Angelis and Mr. Corcoran prayed together and thanked God for his blessings,” reported the bulletin.
Contact information for comments about Human Rights Tribunals
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Ontario Conservative Opposition Leader Tim Hudak
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty
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