Same-Sex Scandal in Catholic Church

Republican [Springfield MA]
February 18, 2004

During unprecedented visits to parishes in Springfield, Chicopee, Greenfield, Hadley and elsewhere in recent weeks, the Most Rev. Thomas L. Dupre urged parishioners to oppose same-sex marriages.

He told them that same-sex unions would have a harmful effect on children.

"When families are unhealthy, the children are the first to suffer and pay the price," he told parishioners at Holy Trinity Church in Greenfield on Jan. 12.

When he spoke those words, Dupre had known for some time that The Republican was investigating accusations that he had sexually abused two boys for years, beginning in the 1970s.

Last week, just a day after The Republican confronted him with a written list of questions about the accusations, Dupre abruptly resigned as leader of the 270,000 Roman Catholics in Western Massachusetts, citing health reasons.

The Catholic Church is within its rights to withhold its marriage sacraments from same-sex couples and to urge parishioners to support an amendment to the state constitution defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Yet how can it say with any credibility that children must be protected from "unhealthy" same-sex marriages while church leaders have ignored for years the child victims of priest pedophiles who were protected by the church?

And if it is eventually proven that Dupre, a messenger in that campaign, was himself a sexual predator, it is further evidence that the church hierarchy has learned nothing in the past few years.

The accusations against Dupre cast doubt on every decision he has made in response to the sexual abuse scandal. Those close to him say that he agonized over the decisions, and that it was particularly painful for him to remove clergy from their jobs once the allegations proved credible. Some say now that they know why it was difficult for Dupre.

If the church is attempting to reassert its moral authority in the eyes of its parishioners by fighting same-sex marriage, it lacks a credible base from which to do so.

And worse, some followers may have lost faith.

A parishioner in Hadley, after Dupre urged her to oppose same-sex marriage, later told a reporter, "I definitely believe in the separation of the church and state, but I also believe in the bishop's words.

Perhaps no longer.


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