|Diocese Investigates Incident Involving Obama Supporter at Fairfield Church
By Shauntel Lowe
San Jose Mercury News
November 14, 2008
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento is investigating a Fairfield woman's claim that a priest "chased" her off church grounds Sunday because her car bore messages supporting President-elect Barack Obama.
Diocesean spokesman Kevin Eckerly said Thursday that bishops will be interviewing parishioners about Sunday's incident.
"We're in the process of ascertaining exactly what's going on," Eckerly said, but his understanding from the Rev. Sebastian Meyer is that the priest made a "simple announcement" about moving the car and used the pro-Obama messages simply to describe the vehicle.
An American Canyon parish, meanwhile, has reached out to the woman and her family in the wake of the incident.
Elizabeth Caster said Meyer announced before Sunday's Mass at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church in Fairfield that a car with pro-Obama messages was parked in the church's loading zone and would be towed if not moved within 10 minutes.
Longtime church member Peggy Sherrod quoted Meyer as saying, "I don't care who Obama is. He won. Get over it," during Sunday's announcement about the car.
Meyer would not comment despite repeated MediaNews requests since Monday. On Wednesday, a Vacaville reporter said Meyer attacked him when he tried to interview him at the church. The Vacaville Reporter has filed a police report.
Elizabeth Caster has said there were two other vehicles in the loading zone that the Rev. Meyer did not point out at the time.
Eckerly said it was "too soon" to tell if there was any wrongdoing on the priest's part.
But for the Casters, the verdict is already in.
Elizabeth Caster said she will be looking for another church to attend.
David Mezzera, lay administrator of the Holy Family Parish in American Canyon, which partners with a church in Kenya, has invited the Casters to the church due to "frustration" over Sunday's incident.
The church partners with Holy Family Basilica in Nairobi, Kenya. Elizabeth Caster, a native Kenyan, moved to the United States in 2000.
"It's not the pastor or priest that makes the church what it is," Mezzera said.
The Casters said they think Sunday's announcement was at least partly about race and, since the first story appeared about the incident they have received calls and e-mails of support from around the world.
Joe Caster is white and Elizabeth is Kenyan.
So far, there is no evidence the announcement had anything to do with the couple's race or of President-elect Barack Obama's, but the Casters believe race was a factor in their treatment.
"My wife and I are like a symbol of what this country should be about: all races together as one, which is President Obama's message too," Joe Caster said.
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