NEW YORK (NY)
New York Times
December 29, 2018
By Laurie Goodstein
When Antonio Aaron Bianco arrived for work at his Roman Catholic church office on a recent Monday morning, he was rattled to discover that someone had broken into the conference room and spray-painted a message in large yellow letters on the wall. It said “No Fags.”
For Mr. Bianco, a layman in charge of managing St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, the break-in was just another terrifying omen. Two weeks earlier, someone tried to set the sanctuary doors on fire before the early Sunday Mass. Before that, a stranger swung a punch at Mr. Bianco after Mass one day. For months he had received anonymous phone calls and letters with messages like “Sodomites not welcome in the church.”
Located in the heart of San Diego’s largest gay neighborhood, St. John the Evangelist is one of about 300 Catholic parishes around the country that quietly welcome gay Catholics. Although the Catholic church teaches that same-sex relationships are sinful, growing pockets of the church have accepted openly gay parishioners, staff members and even priests.
But since this summer, when the church faced renewed allegations of clergy sexual abuse, these gay-friendly parishes and church workers have been facing a hostile backlash. Some bishops and conservative Catholic media outlets immediately blamed the crisis on homosexuality, fueling a campaign to purge the church of gay clergy members and church workers.
More than 1,700 people signed a petition started in August demanding that the archbishop of Atlanta “remove priests who promote the L.G.B.T. agenda from public ministry” and stop supporting parishes known to welcome gay people. In Chicago, a priest burned a rainbow flag and led parishioners in a “prayer of exorcism.” For the first time, protesters showed up outside an annual spiritual retreat of gay priests in Wisconsin in October. In November, bishops attending a conference in Baltimore were greeted by Catholics holding signs saying “All Homosexual Cardinals, Bishops and Priests MUST RESIGN!”
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