Thursday April 8, 2010

Montana Bishop Boots Gay Group from Parish Hall

By Kathleen Gilbert

BILLINGS, Montana, April 8, 2010 ( – Bishop Michael Warfel of Great Falls-Billings has asked a local support group for homosexuals to move its meetings out of a local parish hall to avoid confusion over the Catholic Church’s teaching on homosexuality.

The pro-homosexuality group Always Our Children had scheduled an open house meeting in a hall at St. Pius X Parish in Billings for April 6. The group had been allowed to meet at the parish previously, before complying with the bishop’s recent request that it seek another meeting location.

Always Our Children has no affiliation with the diocese of Great Falls-Billings, or any other church.

“We were told we could not have it there because of the mention of Chuck being Bill’s partner, and that it promoted and condoned same-sex marriage,” Debbie Schenck, a spokeswoman for the group, told the Billings Gazette regarding correspondence from Bishop Warfel.

Warfel says he sent the message after the talk was publicized, and the diocese was questioned over the event.

“I received a number of inquiries from Catholics who were confused about the presentation and who was sponsoring it,” said the bishop Wednesday, adding that it appeared “as if there was some confusion about St. Pius sponsoring it, and, explicitly, the diocese.”

“And there was some question about a conflict with Catholic teaching on homosexuality,” said Warfel. “So I asked that it be moved to another site in order to eliminate confusion.”

The group moved the meeting to Mayflower Congregational Church in Billings.

While “there were definitely people there who were very stressed about” the move, according to Schenk, “We don’t want to bash the Catholic Church.” “We used it as a way of saying ‘this is just one more proof of the work that needs to be done right here in our community,’ ” she said.