Tuesday, October 7, 2008

How It All began

Sunday, October 4, 11AM:


As most of you know, I was appointed pastor here at the Newman Center on April 15th of this year. When I arrived, I set out to address a series of various projects to repair our facilities. To date, most of these deferred maintenance items have been addressed. In the middle of dealing with contractors, the parish finance committee, the building department of the diocese, neighbors, etc., I received a FAX from the bishop’s office on the 30th of June. It was the bishop’s pastoral letter for the month of July.

This single FAX threw my whole summer, and in fact, my whole life into a turmoil. Recently, I was speaking with some of our parishioners who advocate for the ordination of women. In the course of our conversation, a question arose which has haunted me: “At what point do you cease to be an agent for healing and growth and become an accomplice of injustice?” By asking all of the pastors of the Diocese of Fresno to promote Catholics to vote “Yes” on Proposition 8, the bishop has placed me in a moral predicament.

In his “Pastoral,” the bishop states: “Marriage is much more than simply two persons loving each other. Marriage is naturally, socially, and biologically, directed to bringing forth life.”

Actually, there are TWO ends to marriage: 1) Unitive and 2) Procreative. The unitive end of marriage is simply a union of love and life. The Procreative end is, of course, to create new life. It is important to understand that the unitive end of marriage is sufficient for a valid marriage. The Church sanctions, and considers a sacrament, the marriage of elderly heterosexual couples who are biologically incapable of reproduction. So, if two people of different genders who are incapable of reproduction can enter into a valid marriage, then why is it that two people of the same gender, who are incapable of reproduction, cannot enter into a valid marriage?

The objections which are raised at this point are taken from Sacred Scripture. Scripture scholars reveal the problematic nature of attempting to use passages from the Hebrew Scriptures as an argument against same gender relationships. Essentially, these scriptures are addressing the cultic practices in which sex with temple prostitutes was part of an act of worshiping Pagan gods. With regard to the Pauline epistles, John J. McNeill, in his book: “The Church and the Homosexual,” makes the following point: “The persons referred to in Romans 1:26 are probably not homosexuals that is, those who are psychologically inclined toward their own sex—since they are portrayed as ‘abandoning their natural customs.’” The Pauline epistles do not explicitly treat the question of homosexual activity between two persons who share a homosexual orientation, and as such cannot be read as explicitly condemning such behavior. Therefore, same gender sex by two individuals with same sex orientation is not “abandoning their natural custom.”

In 1973, as a result of a greater understanding of human psychology, the American Psychological Association declassified homosexuality as a mental illness. In 1975, the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (the Church’s watchdog for orthodoxy) produced a document entitled: “Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics.” In this document, they made the most remarkable statement. They stated that there are “homosexuals who are such because of some kind of innate instinct.” While these statements are hardly glowing affirmations of gay and lesbian persons, they represent a watershed in human perception and understanding of gay and lesbian people.

These new insights have occurred as a result of the birth and development of the science of psychology and understanding of brain development in the 19th and 20th centuries. The California Supreme Court cited and quoted an amicus brief filed by the APA in the Court’s opinion issued on May 15, 2008 that struck down California’s ban on same sex marriage. Specifically, the court relied on the APA’s brief in concluding that the very nature of sexual orientation is related to the gender of partners to whom one is attracted, so that prohibiting same sex marriage discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation, rather than just imposing disparate burdens on gay people.

In directing the faithful to vote “Yes” on Proposition 8, the California Bishops are not merely entering the political arena, they are ignoring the advances and insights of neurology, psychology and the very statements made by the Church itself that homosexuality is innate (i.e. orientation). In doing this, they are making a statement which has a direct, and damaging, effect on some of the people who may be sitting in the pews next to you today. The statement made by the bishop reaffirms the feelings of exclusion and alienation that are suffered by individuals and their loved ones who have left the Church over this very issue. Imagine what hearing such damaging words at Mass does to an adolescent who has just discovered that he/she is gay/lesbian? What is the hierarchy saying to him/her? What are they demanding from that individual? What would it have meant to you personally to hear from the pulpit at church that you could never date? Never fall in love, never kiss or hold hands with another person? Never be able to marry? How would you view yourself? How would others hearing those same words be directed to view you? How would you view your life and your future? How would you feel when you saw a car with a “Yes on 8” bumper sticker? When you overheard someone in a public place use the word “faggot?”

I remember the first time I heard that word, faggot, I was hanging out with my cousins. They all played on the football team of the Catholic high school in our town. One of them spat out the word in the form of a curse. I was just a kid in the 5th grade, I’d never heard the word before, and so I asked: “What’s a faggot?” A faggot is a guy who likes other guys, was the curt reply. Now pause. Think. What would those words mean to someone in junior high school who discovers that he/she is attracted to people of their same gender? The greatest fear that he/she would have is that they would be rejected by the people they love the most—their family. So, their solution is to try to pass as straight, deceive, and in effect—lie. Of course, this leads ultimately to self loathing. It should come as little surprise that gay teenagers have elevated suicide rates. According to the Center for Disease Control’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey (1999), 33% of gay youth will attempt suicide.

The bishop states: “The Church has spoken out constantly that those with a homosexual orientation must be respected with the dignity of every child of God. Every individual is created in the image and likeness of God and should never be subjected to prejudice or hatred.” A pious thought uttered by a cleric, robbed of any substantive meaning, as the executioner begins his work. Only a few select people actually read those documents. What most Catholics hear about being gay or lesbian at their parish church is--silence. A numbing silence, which slowly and insidiously tells them, “You don’t belong here, this is not for you, and you are not welcome.” It is not the crude overt vulgarity of some churches. But rather, it is the coldness of a maitre d’ who simply won’t seat you, or the club which has put you on a waiting list with no intention of allowing you to join. And simply asks you to wait in polite almost, apologetic tones.

In effect, the bishops are asking gay and lesbian people to live their lives alone. Why? Who does this benefit? How exactly is society helped by singling out a minority and excluding them from the union of love and life, which is marriage? How is marriage protected by intimidating gay and lesbian people into loveless and lonely lives? What is accomplished by this? Worse still, is to intimidate a gay or lesbian person into a heterosexual marriage, which is doomed from its inception, and makes two victims instead of one by this hurtful “theology.” This “theology,” which is parroted by clerics in polished tones from pulpits, produces the very prejudice and hatred in our society which they claim to abhor.

When the hierarchy prohibited artificial birth control, most of the faithful in the United States, Canada and Europe scratched their heads in wonderment and proceeded to ignore them. There is an expression in theology: “the voice of the people is the voice of God.” If your son or daughter is gay/lesbian let them know that you love them unconditionally. Let them know that you are not ashamed or embarrassed by them. Guide them as you would your other children to finding true and abiding love. Let them know that marriage is a union of love and life and is possible for them too.

I do not presume to tell you how to vote but I do ask that you pray to the Creator of us all. Think and consider the effects of your vote on others, especially minorities in our society who are sitting next to you in church, and at work. The act of casting a vote takes you a few minutes but it can cause other human beings untold happiness or sorrow for a lifetime. It can grant them hope and acceptance, or it can cause them to lose civil rights. It can be a rebuff to bigotry and hatred, or it can encourage bigotry and hatred. Personally, I am morally compelled to vote “NO” on Proposition 8. It is my hope that the people of California will join with those others around the world such as Canada, Europe and South Africa who welcome their gay and lesbian family members fully into society by granting them the civil right to marry.

I know these words of truth will cost me dearly. But to withhold them, would be far more costly and I would become an accomplice to a moral evil that strips gay and lesbian people not only of their civil rights but of their human dignity as well. Jesus said, “The truth will set you free.” He didn't promise that it would be easy or without personal cost to speak that truth.

113 comments:

Doralong said...

May your courage and grace be a light for others.. You're no doubt in for a hard time, but good and decent people need to finally start making a stand-

Father Tony of the Farmboyz said...

Dear Father Geoff,

In one well-crafted and heartfelt sermon, you have managed to say clearly what I believe most priests (and bishops and cardinals and popes) hold to be true.

Many of us quietly slipped out the back door of the Church, disgusted with how far away from the message of Jesus it had wandered, but you have chosen to stand and fight.

What you are doing is totally admirable, and shame on the thousands of gay priests who do not stand up with you and support you at this moment. Something tells me you're gonna need all the help you can get.

Birdie said...

Father Geoff, I am a straight Christian mother of two and I want to congratulate you on your courage in speaking the truth. The days and weeks that follow are going to be incredibly difficult for you and I will hold you in prayer. I also pray that your fellow priests find similar courage to follow your example and speak, as Jesus does, for the beloved outcast. God loves all of us exactly as we are, wholly and unconditionally.

3rdpewnorth said...

Bless you father,
Your courage is admirable.
I left the Roman church years ago, it was a painful freedom.
I am now a member of Saint Paul's Pomona, where both my partner and I are accepted and indeed loved. It is very hard to call myself a Christian when the christians most people hear of espouse exclusion and anger, vengeance and violence. You give me hope.
Love of God, and the Peace of Christ be with you always.
Bruno

Bruno said...

Father Geoff,
Blessings on you for your brave and truthful stand.
I too was a Roman catholic, I left years ago.
My partner and I are now members of Saint Paul's Pomona, a small but spirit filled community.
God is wonderful indeed. Thank you for your witness and strength.
Peace be always upon you.
Bruno

David said...

A friend of Father Tony's here.

As I head to services for Yom Kippur this evening, I will be thinking of you and your courage.

Thank you for being a voice of love and reason.

headbang8 said...

Hear, hear.

I am a native Catholic who has rejected his faith. Your post reflects a good deal of my reasoning.

The Church preaches love, but actually doesn't like it very much in practice. Why?

Love is a shield against fear.

It might be the love of your family, the love of an intimate friend, or the love one holds for his fellow man. No matter. All this love makes us stronger, more noble, more dignified, more capable of moral conviction.

Are there some within the church who champion fear over love? Who prefer to intimidate, control and abuse their flock, rather than help them grow strong and wise?

I think we both know the answer to those questions.

Stay strong, Father Geoff.

evilganome said...

Father Geoff, as a former Catholic and now full time atheist, I wanted to offer my support and thanks.

I do not feel any real need for religious faith in my own life, but I do recognize the importance it has in the lives of others.

I have known many people over the years who have struggled and been made miserable by some of the contradictions of the church and I perceive dedicated people, such as yourself, as clergy who can hopefully point to a better future for all people with a need for faith and a desire to participate in their congregations.

Once again, let me offer you my best wishes in what I fear will be a painful struggle for you.

Susan A. said...

Father Geoff, a dear friend just directed me to your blog...and having read and pondered your words I am so incredibly impressed and thrilled that there are people - clergy! - like you! I am a Christian, a member of an inclusive church, a heterosexual, middle-age, divorced female....and harbor no anger issues that I'm aware of or any 'ax to grind'. So it's easy for me to share my belief - and joy! - that LOVE (commitment, integrity, respect, honesty, faithfulnees, support) is never limited by gender.....Oh, a few friends, of course, disagree, but generally I experience their toleration and respect as I do for them. We just move on to other topics. However, it is quite another thing for someone to speak of this inclusive Love with possible hurtful and great repercussions. Bless you! and please know you have thousands of brothers & sisters in the Body of Christ supporting your courage.

In Awe & Gratitude for God's Unconditional, Inclusive Love,

Susan A.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your courage and truth.
You have my prayers for your continued good work.

Anonymous said...

Bless you. You did the right thing, and spoke the truth. I will pray for you.

Michele said...

Freedom is not free and your bravery is much appreciated.
Thank you.

rptrcub said...

Father: I am not a Catholic, nor am I very religious. But I applaud you for your bravery and speaking to truth. I pray for your protection and for all the best.

Michael J. Bayly said...

Thank you for your courageous stand.

May it inspire and encourage others to preach and embody Jesus' promise of fullness of life for all.

Peace,

Michael

RainbowDishes said...

Thank you for your wonderful, beautiful and insightful post. Outing oneself is never an easy task. And I cannot begin to imagine the pressure and anxiety that you were going through.

It is hard for some to believe, but our Creator loves us all. May you find your peace now. You deserve it!

Thom said...

Father, I haven't even read this yet, but I wanted to say, "Thank you."

You don't even need to approve this comment. Just wanted you to know.

Thom
t.curnutte@gmail.com

Stephen Q Workman said...

Father,
Thank you for your courage. I am a young episcopalian of 30, who is gay. I have been, until now, a voice of rights without words. I have told anyone who'll listen that it isn't the word "marriage" that we ought to fight for, but the rights inherently held within. Reading your blog today, and envisioning you speaking to the congregation these words, brought tears to my eyes. I am a gay man, I am a member of the 33% who tried in vien to take something God so preciously granted me. I remember lying in my bed in fear that God and his people hated me. It took me 10 years and a lot of mistakes to find my way back to God's grace. It took me this long to remember that I am made in his image, and he loves me too.

Thank you for being a beacon of hope in a world where the gay and lesbian is without the rights of every American. But mostly, thank you for reminding our community there is a place for us at the right hand of God.

Warmest regards,

Stephen Q. Workman
Beckley, WV

Anonymous said...

God bless you Father Geoff! I work in ministry at a Catholic church and have to hide the fact that I have someone who loves and cares for me just because she is of the same gender as me. It has torn me from the place I once called home but has in no way torn me from the God who loves us all.
Becca

Anonymous said...

Dear Father Geoff:

Your courage and integrity are inspirational.

I work as a compliance officer dealing with international finance. My fiance is an NYPD officer. Together we are much more than we could ever be apart.

Please know that you are not alone in your quest to have gay people treated as God's children by everyone.

There's a guy who routinely fights his corporate board about ethics and a cop on the beat at your side.
Your bravery binds us together even though we've never met.

Bravo, Father.

With very best regards,
Thomas N. Tronolone
thom413@aol.com

Rey said...

Father, whatever the outcome of your sermon your words will not be wasted, but they will help to give others the courage to do the same, the wright thing. The world needs more people like you and fewer of those who sell their soul for the sake of confort and prestige.

Thank you.

Rick said...

Thank you, Geoff.

I'm one of those folks the church hurt so deeply I never went back. You standing up in that pulpit and speaking truth brings me a measure of peace.

ken_nyc said...

father geoff,

thank you for laying out your thoughts so clearly and sincerely. as a former catholic, i can appreciate what you have taken on in speaking what you believe to be true. my thoughts are with you as you begin to deal with the aftermath of your admirable actions.

ken_nyc

eric said...

Wow. Powerful.

I can't help but wonder if, 12 years ago, in the waning days of my time in Seminary, I had heard a sermon like this, perhaps I'd still be Catholic. Maybe even ordained.

God bless you, Father. (You're the first priest in 12 years I've addressed as Father without a sour taste in my mouth.)

Daniel said...

Bravo, Father Geoff. May Jesus protect you from his misguided, self-proclaimed followers.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations.. Perhaps you can help others follow your lead of being truly christ like and telling the truth.

Stand tall and hold your head up high.

Deep Bows of respect and admiration.

HM California said...

Neither Catholic, nor gay, I was very moved by an email I received today about you and your stance. I offer you my heartfelt support. I am most impressed by those who are willing to take a stand to help make this world more inclusive and applaud you. Thousand of years of discrimination based on fear of difference has lead to the intolerance we see around us. It is the root cause of the madness that lead to over 100 million human beings killed in the last century.

I wish you much strength and hope that there will be others in the Church who will take the same position. We need to vote NO on all exclusivist propositions - thank you Father Geoff

Anonymous said...

dear father geoff...speaking truth to power is always dangerous but you have had the courage to do just that and deserve much encouragement and support...there is a new awareness that is arising and the old egoic mind and male dominated world is crumbling...in the past, the ones who dare speak truth to power were killed like Jesus was - i.e. oscar romero, martin luther king, bobby kennedy, mahatma gandhi...but now the sytem of money and power is being exposed for all its' injustices and there is hope that a new earth will begin to evolve with great spiritual teachers like eckhart tolle and great prophets like richard rohr...these 2 people are at the front lnes of this change in a world where 'everything belongs' and where Jesus's true teachings can be understood and taught...peace and grace...your brother ernie

nowholdon said...

Hang in there Father, this must have been very tough. Courage is the word that defines you. You have allies here with our hearts and assistance when you need it.

tornwordo said...

Thank you for writing this. It is heroic.

Ed said...

As someone who was raised Catholic, it was so inspiring and exciting to hear about your brave words of truth and wisdom to your congregation. Best of luck to you,
Erin
Seattle, WA

Anonymous said...

As a women, who this very weekend will seek the approval of my own Episcopal Diocese to become an postulant for Holy Orders, I am lifted and lightened by your post. To know that there remain those willing to speak to love and justice....truly Gospel imperatives....even at the risk of great loss is to know that God is still at work in our world! You are a blessing. May your heart know peace.

Anonymous said...

Hi Fr. Geoff,

It appears comment moderation is on, but I hope you are reading these. I wanted to thank you for your words and your thoughtfulness and as a bisexual, formerly Catholic woman, I wanted to let you know how close to home they hit. I live in New York, am moving to California soon, and I am in love with a woman who will quite possibly become the mother of my children. Trying to explain this to my devoutly Catholic parents has been challenging to say the least. I will consider sending them a link to your post, if I can figure out a way to frame it so they don't see it as an attack.

I know you are taking a big risk in speaking out, and after 13 years of Catholic school, I think you are doing the right thing. I appreciate it. Thank you.

Marcia

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
antonio said...

Dear Father, I and my partner are parishioners at St Paul --we sat every Sunday we were in Fresno, first row (usually) left side (to your right). My partner(we were recently married) is Asian. I am Latino.I am on the Peace and Justice Committee but haven't attended for some time. We are currently in Hong Kong. My partner's home. We have been together for 8 years.
Of course, we totally support you. But I want to let you know, our support isn't just what we can say to you. Whatever the future holds.if necessary, our resources are available to assist you in bridging any gap.
I hope the Bishop does the right thing. I am also, sure, you have friends so important right now.
I will be following the events but if there is anything I can do, please let me know. I think Bill Simon is a good connection for support-he can be a little cautious. I think many people in the parish are supportive. Good luck and bless you. Not hearing from us doesn't mean we aren't standing by in support, waiting to be called upon.
antonio

Greg said...

Wow. Spectacular, inspired, empowering writing here. Thank you for this. Know that there are many, mamy people who will draw strength from your efforts.

My best wishes to you!

Anonymous said...

Father Farrow,
I am not a Roman Catholic (in fact, I am a Unitarian Universalist), nor am I gay (but rather a straight ally in the struggle), but I have the deepest compassion for what you have done this past weekend. What an act of courage, and what a lonely act of courage. But then, truly courageous people are often walking their path ahead of the others, and that can be a lonely path.

Our faith tradition has welcomed gays and lesbians and supported same sex marriage for decades, so I do not know the pain of being part of a faith tradition where secrecy and denial are a part and parcel of that tradition...or where one's survival will dictate that sort of deception. I only know love and acceptance, and so I can only imagine how you must feel. But I want to thank you for speaking truth to power, and let you know that there are many hundreds of people all over our state who are proud of your actions, and grateful!!!

Take care of yourself. God's love can only bless you.
Gina Whitaker
Arroyo Grande, CA

David Kilburn said...

Father Farrow,
You have restored my faith in humanity. Your courage and devotion to humanity is inspirational. Thank you so much for your honesty and compassion.

Sincerely,
David Kilburn

Anonymous said...

I support your brave decision to speak your mind. We are all people. PERIOD. And we all should be accepted. Thank you for your nonjudgemental and kind and loving spirit.

Anthony said...

Thank you so much for being the man of courage that you are.

I was raised in a strictly Catholic home and felt self loathing from very early on. I became one of those gay men in a heterosexual marriage to which you refer. The harm it caused and the healing required oft seem insurmountable.

One can only hope and pray more men of the cloth will take a stand.

Again Thank you.

Tater said...

I applaud your decision to speak a difficult truth. I pray that others will join you, that you will not have to stand alone. Thank you for saying out loud, words I would have loved to hear as a gay teen, words that would have made me feel a part of something bigger than my fearful closet, words that wouldn't of turned me away from family or Church.

Kevin said...

Fr. Geoff,

I want to thank you for your courage in only speaking from your heart but also for coming out knowing what the consequences may be.

I am a 50 y.o., gay man and although raised as a R.C. I left the church many years ago because of the out right lies of many of the priests that I had come to know over the years.

I had 12 years of a R.C. education, was an altar boy an active in the the CYO and later in the K of C.

I knew many gay priests and when I did confide to them about me being gay, I received nothing but lectures, bible quotes, offers to hear my confession etc., even from one who I had sex with. (I was over 21 at the time).

Many of the priest who I new weren't gay, were involved with female parishioners and/or the nuns that were associated with their parish. Even our Monsignor was very "open" about his relationship with his "housekeeper". They were together for 40 years and stayed together even after he retired from the priesthood.

I guess what I am trying to say, is that many of us KNOW the truth and although many never speak up about it some of us have chosen to leave the church when seeing hypocrisy from the pulpit time and time again.

So, I say to you again, Thank you! It's refreshing to see a member of the clergy finally acknowledge what many of us knew but because of our respect for the Church never really speak out as so courageously as you have and just quietly leave the Church.

Perhaps with more of the clergy coming forward with your honesty and integrity it will compel the Church to come into the 21st Century and stop the bleeding of many of it's followers as they leave to seek out honest truths and the true Christ who main goal was to teach us of unconditional love of one another.

MadPriest said...

Oh, for goodness sake. This is the most important post in the blogosphere this week, and after two days I'm the first to comment. Hang on in there, my friend, I'll send some people over.

Erika Baker said...

Thank you for joining the blogworld. And thank you again for your courage, honesty and integrity.

Yes, your words will cost you dear, but I hope they will also set you free in the way we can only be set free when we know we are following God's truth.

May you find friends in unexpected places, affirmation, strength, support and move love than you had dared hope.

BillyD said...

Kudos on your bravery in coming out, and in opposing Prop 8. I'll keep you in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

Dear Brother in Christ,

What you have done is very courageous. In our calendar (Episcopal) today we celebrate +Grosseteste who said, "...because I am obedient, I disobey, I contradict, I rebel..."

May God bless you. And please know that there are many out here who are thanking God for your witness, and we will keep you in our prayers.

--margaret

Two Auntees said...

You have taken a very courageous stand for all the right reasons. You have only my admiration.

Churches have been wrong through out history and have taken unmovable, hurtful stands against some of it's most vulnerable people. It seems to me that the Holy Spirit is moving in people like you to bring justice and peace to some of our most vulnerable brothers and sisters.

Our prayers ascend for you.

Freedom Bound said...

My dear brother - thank you for these words and for your actions.

KJ said...

As one who grew up and "came out" in an evangelical, Protestant church setting, I am very moved by your words here. It is only through such costly revelations that breathe love and truth as opposed to the breeding of bias and artifice, that others will know the reality of Incarnation; The life-giving Christ is in our midst, and that is very good news.

Peace of Christ.

IT said...

Hi, Fr Geoff.

This is an awesome sermon and I am SO glad to see you speak out, though I know that the cost will be high.

I am a lesbian (atheist ex-Catholic), who will joyfully marry my Catholic partner this weekend. Would that her priests had the courage that you do, as she is living a "don't ask don't tell" life within her church and it causes her great pain.

I am also one of the bloggers over at the Episcopal blog Friends of Jake. (the irony of an atheist ex-RC blogging there does not escape us.) I started with my Episco-friends in hopes of identifying a more welcoming church for my partner, but her Catholic identity runs deep so I haven't persuaded her to move .... yet.

I invite you to visit Friends, where we discuss broad issues related to faith and politics.

Meanwhile, please know that you have given hope to many faithful Catholics--and their partners.

IT

Steve said...

I saw a news report on your sermon and just received this blog from a friend. Thank You Very Much for being brave enough to be yourself and offering hope to many others. I trust that you are finding loving support within your congregation, but know that you have much gratitude and support from many of us out here...
Steve, Morro Bay CA

Grandmère Mimi said...

Fr. Farrow, thank you for your beautiful and eloquent words.

I spent 60 years in an often uneasy alliance with the Roman Catholic Church. I finally left over the child abuse and cover-up 14 years ago, and I am now an Episcopalian.

Jesus taught each of us to daily take up our cross, but he never, ever said a word about laying crosses on the shoulders of others. In fact, he became quite angry at the Pharisees for doing just that, for laying heavy burdens on the shoulders of other people and not lifting a finger to help.

As I see it, celibacy is a call by God to live one's life under a particular discipline. Another human cannot place a person under that discipline.

God's creation is good. I simply cannot believe that the gracious and loving God intended that gays and lesbians, with their innate attraction to members of the same sex, should live lives of loneliness and never fall in love and never express their love for one another in a physical way.

The "pastoral" leaves a large chunk of the flock without a shepherd. You were right and courageous to speak out, Fr. Farrow.

The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.


I know that's the priestly blessing, but I speak it from the bottom of my heart as a member of the priesthood of believers.

Jim said...

Father Geoff,

If as I suspect you are not allowing comments to appear, please consider this an invitation. When, not if, when, the Roman hierarchy lands on you, know that we Anglicans are very aware of our function as a sanctuary. I think you will find an Episcopalian bishop a breath of fresh air you will need.

I so admire your courage.

FWIW
jimB

Conrad said...

Thank you for your words of wisdom. I was raised Catholic and still attend mass regularly. I was an alter boy and attended mass daily and like yourself prayed regularly for God to make me right, only to find out he had already done so. My sexuality is a part of me not all of me, and I am good person which I know is what God would want. Thank you for your courage.

FranIAm said...

What a clear and courageous declaration, Father Geoff.

God bless you for what you are doing here. You will be persecuted by many but you are doing what you must.

Like this famous Hasidic tale, how can you not be who God created you to be?

God bless you richly. Know that you are loved from a far and held in prayer.

Pax my brother!

Lois Keen said...

It's possible you're not posting comments, and I appreciate that. However, in case you read them, this one is supportive. You were my "brick of the day" the morning the story of your courageous stand hit my favorite blog, madpriest's OCICBW...

There is a whole community over there that supports you and MP has instructed us all to send you our best wishes, our prayers and our blessings.
And since I'm a priest, bless you, Father. Bless you.

Lois Keen, Priest, Episcopal Church

Anonymous said...

Fr. Geoff: I thoroughly admire your courage to speak the truth of your convictions regardless of the cost. It is a sad state when an individual speaking from the core of his truth causes so much turmoil - specifically because no one else has the courage to do so. I wish more priests had that courage - not only on the issue of telling people how they should vote - but on the many other issues reflected in our lives as catholics in a pluralistic society.

While I do wish more priests had the courage to come out as you did, and to dare to challenge the thinking of the heirarchy, I know I would hate to see MY own pastor endanger his career by doing so. I will pray for you, and pray that cooler heads prevail at your diocese, so that our church won't lose another prophetic voice in the attempt to prevent meaningful debate.

Thank you for giving a truly catholic voice to those of us on the margins.

- A - (from Sacramento)

MartininBroda said...

Sorry Father,

My English is not that good, but I’m used to follow the wishes of Ms Birdie immediately, sorry this joke may sound inappropriate, but I feel it’s so great what you’ve done, so I wish you all the best.

May our Lord and his blessed Mother guide and protect you

Martin from Germany

Java said...

Thank you for speaking out. Thank you for coming out! Did you have any idea that this homily would be so widely heard and read?
God Bless you, Father Geoff

Michael in Norfolk said...

Fr. Geoff:

I have immense respect for your courage and your honesty. As a gay former Catholic who left the Church because of its corruption and hypocrisy, I identify with your words about growing up and realizing to your horror that you are gay.

Like far too many, I married and tried to be straight and in time the marriage fell apart. While I am most grateful for my three wonderful children, I will always feel sadness for the hurt I caused my ex-wife and that I was too much a coward to be myself far earlier in my life.

I am totally out now and have achieved a level of self-acceptance and comfort that eluded me for half a century. I have also found a church home in the Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Be assured that there is life after the Catholic Church. I have posted about you twice now on my blog.

barbarab said...

Dear Fr. Jeff,
I admire your courage and honesty in speaking truth to power. I left the Roman church because I felt denied my (female) personhood there. You will be in my prayers as I follow your story. Peace be with you always.

Kate said...

Keep doing the good work! You're in my prayers.

Josh Indiana said...

I don't know how, as a free and faithful person, you can function in a mind-control church.

May God bless your priesthood despite it all.

HM California said...

I am so sorry to hear of what has transpired. I admire your strength and conviction. There is an old adage that one door closes in order for another to open. I hope that you are able to take some time to rest and find the path you will now follow.

Anonymous said...

It is seldom that we come across an individual who is brave and courageous enough to speak truths from the heart.
I wish you all the very best. Bravo Father Farrow.

Pilgrim said...

Grace and peace to you, brother.

Zed said...

Thank you, Father.

Tedra said...

Priests like you are the reason I maintain my connection to the Church. May god bless you, Father.

Anonymous said...

A show of strong support for your courageous and loving words Father Geoff here from the Greek Othodox Church in Chicago.

Heather W. Reichgott said...

Thank you for your bravery and your compassion.
Heather (a lesbian Presbyterian)

Kristin in California said...

Father Geoff,
Thank you for your honesty and courage. It is inspiring. You have captured what so many of us truly believe in our hearts. I am a happily married, straight woman. And I am a Catholic. I stand with you in supporting dignity and respect, rather than division and silence. It is a profound and stunning action you have taken, knowing the consequences you will face. So it is with genuine and heartfelt appreciation that I say Thank You and God Bless You.

annarborgeorge said...

As a gay man & a frustrated Catholic, I applaud your courage & your voice. Thank you for speaking up -- you are speaking for many of us. You're in my thoughts & prayers. Best of luck.

Anonymous said...

Father Geoff,

I am so happy to know you did not leave us of your own accord. I was a little upset when I called St. Paul's to be told you left without telling anyone, including the Bishop. I thought how can he open this wound and leave us without guidance. I am a staight Catholic mother with people I love who are gay. I cannot believe God has created them knowing that if they express their love they are to be deemed immoral. I'm lost at this moment because I do love my faith but I love my family too and have prayed on this for a long, long time. I felt lost and alone while praying on this matter because I felt there was no one who is Christian and would understand. The funny thing is while you were my priest I did not feel as if I could trust you with my struggle.Not knowing you were all too familiar with my stuggle I waited to call you just days before your announcement. I actually did not attend church that weekend because I was upset that I had not heard from you and wondered if my family belonged in the Catholic church or would be accepted for that matter. The Monday after I called the church asking why you had not called me back and was told you'd left without notice to anyone including the bishop. I want you to know I was so lost until your announcement. When I saw the news coverage I immediately said there is the answer to my prayers.I now have hope and feel that I can brave whatever comes my family's way. We are much stronger now thanks to you. Just know we did not applaud the Bishop's letter apologizing for you this last Sunday. I felt it was very inappropriate of him to appologize for you. I also did not hear anything in his letter correcting what you said as his letter stated he'd do. He only affirmed what you said.The church has made it clear that my loved ones will be tolerated but deemed inmorral should they chose to love someone as I do my own husband. I do not know how the Bishop can say to someone if you have sex out of marriage you are immoral but to all of you who are gay we will not allow you to marry. Basically we are promoting gay people to be immoral. What a contridiction! Father Geoff I want to stay a Catholic but feel as if I'm not welcomed at this point because I do not believe in these teachings. What should I do? I need the guidance of someone who understands.Unfortunately it is not my church right now.I thank God for you Father Geoff! You have no idea how many people in our church alone you may have saved just by letting them know they are not alone. I know my family is already in a much better place because of your courage. God Bless you Father Geoff!! I only made myself anonymous because I didn't know how to use the other choices. I'm new to this blogging thing to.:)

hymn2 said...

As a gay Anglican (lifetime - 62), I've watched many of my friends die. At present I'm just as disgusted with the Episcopal church as you must be with the Roman. I never expected for this turn of events in our history. Those Anglican parishes who're pulling from the Church are not "cut from the same bolt of cloth" as I was/am. It's so wonderful that you've taken a stand on this issue and given hope to so many, either locally in your area or on a larger "playing field".

Anonymous said...

Father Geoff, you absolutley rock.

Tracie H.
First Unitarian Church of Orlando

Matthew said...

My name is Matt; I am a parishioner at St. Philip the Apostle in Bakersfield, CA. You have done the right thing, Fr. Geoff! Yesterday, I handed out fliers to my fellow parishioners regarding the dire consequences of the Church's campaign. One parishioner told me he was very proud that I stood up for those who could not find it in themselves to voice their own truth; he shared with me that he and his boyfriend will soon be married. Many told me I was taking the wrong approach; some said that I would only bring division. I literally stood on the other side of the fence yesterday--not because I sought division, but because the Church is presently deaf to the cries of her faithful for love and acceptance.

“Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.”
Romans 13:10

Thank-you for being a voice of love.

Matt
Bakersfield, CA

andrewdb01 said...

Dear Father Farrow,

I read your situation on the LA Times Website and your blog on here. I sense that you were indeed called by the Spirit to deliver this message and I applaud you for following through. Your courage is an inspiration to me.

As a gay man of nearly 25, I came close to losing faith myself a few times in my life. Yet, God let me know that there is a place for me on this Earth and in His kingdom. I was led to a loving Episcopal Church in Long Beach where I still attend today. I'll let my priest know about your blog and your situation and you'll be in our church prayers.

Also, while I'm thinking about it...I am part of a wonderful organization which ministers to LGBTQ individuals of all ages and has a Catholic forum. It is www.gaychristian.net Feel free to drop by and register/post if you like. :)

Peace,

Andrew

Anonymous said...

Sir, I heard about your experience on a political blog I frequent. I went looking for an email address, but found your blog, instead. I wanted to email you simply to say "thank you". I am straight. I am completely non-religious (and, to be honest, have serious issues with organized religion). However, you took a moral stand; a stand that may well cost you a life you chose and probably love, and that, sir, is far too remarkable in this world. It's easy to stand up for what one believes when everyone agrees with you. It is far more difficult to do so when such an act may, likely will, cost you dearly. May your courage and strength encourage others to do the same.

I am straight, live in Texas and, as stated before, am not even Christian. In short, I don't have a horse in this particular race... except that this race stands for all races and we all have a horse of some color.

Good luck to you in whatever life may bring you. Your actions have lightened the world.

Julia, from Texas
(And I hope you are soon reunited with your missing cat :-)

Ranquero said...

dear confrère

So sad I am reading this new for you were not received in the way you chosed to help our brother and sister who suffered a lot. I am french priest and star working with gay and lesbian christian and I knew as you the sufferinf they crossed to find their own way in our world. Great sorrow to see that the Church of Jesus isn' ready to hera the call of one part of his shepherd which just want to leave his live in a more integrated way....May the bishop ear the voice of his flock looking for a better life. So hard it is to find his own way in this world when you look for an equilibrate wayof life integrating all the dimension of your life....
I hope revision of your situation to provide to the community your service as a right pastor ofr one part of the shepherd of God....

Liz Cho said...

Dear Father Geoff,

I come via the Livejournal of a devout Catholic friend. I am not Catholic, a former Christian who renounced Christianity for injustices I witnessed the Church perpetrate and perpetuate.

I thank you for your courage and hope you find support through the difficulties that lie ahead. But I will be sure to pass on the link to your post to others in hopes that your words will cause some to reconsider their understanding of Christianity and homosexuality.

DMBY said...

Amen and thank you so much for this writing. I plan to share it far and wide.

Anonymous said...

Father Farrow-
standing up for one's beliefs can be costly. I remember enjoying your sermons in Visalia, and now, reading your blog. My hats off to you. I admire your courage and know that there are many out there who support your decision. May our God of infinite love bless you and guide you through this.

Anna C.

Anonymous said...

Thank you , Father Geoff, for your open show of human understanding, christian compassion and priestly shepherding. Wuld that all who think and feel as you do would speak and write these so obvious truths, myself included.
GOd's blessing upon you,
a priest in Holland

Karin said...

Blessings on you for your bravery and the hope you give to others at this moment. I'm sure the road ahead will be difficult for you, and I hope it helps to know that your words have touched people from far away (my family lives in Alberta, Canada). We stand behind you and support your stand.

badamerican said...

Father Geoff,

Somewhere Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer smiles.

You got it. You lived it. You're willing to pay the price for it.

The "it" is knowing that every human being is deserving of love and dignity.

If the church had more priests like you I might have returned.

Best to you and I hope you will find a place to keep preaching.

Cookie Everman said...

Your brave stand and words of wisdom are inspiring. The journey from here may be rocky, but know that you have supporters along the way who are eager to help spread your message of light and love. Blessings on you, Father Geoff. Keep on keepin' on.

Go Go Chinchilla! said...

If there were more priests like you, Father Farrow, I would still be a Christian.

Anonymous said...

Wow. What an informative and lovely post. good luck to you.

bronx-baroness said...

Jesus would agree with you and is certainly standing with you. Thank you for your courage.

Barry Miller said...

During a very busy day as a psychoanalyst I had a short lunch when I could take my car in for a wash and so I got to listen to your brief statements on KCRW. I want to tell you how moved I was by what you said and how essential I think your point of view is in our dangerously polarizing society. Voicing your perspective demonstrates that you are a man of courage. It just happens that tomorrow (Friday) night I will be giving a talk at the C.G. Jung Institute of Los Angeles and, while I am not a Christian, I plan to quote the Apostle Paul in Ephesians (2:13-18) in drawing a parallel between the wine of Dionysus and the blood of Christ. This is where boundaries fall and we are reconciled "to God in one body through the cross, thereby bringing the hostility to an end." I intend to ask the audience to reflect on where this spirit is alive today. In my experience its potential comes alive in psychoanalysis, but is certainly not restricted to that work. I thought I would like to mention you, your position, and your consequences. If you object, please let me know.
Thank you
Barry Miller

Anonymous said...

Dear Father Geoff,
I am also Catholic and love my faith but don't always agree with it.... I am glad that you spoke up and I also believe that gay couple should have rights like anyone else. Thanks for your bravery...

Joe Moore said...

You have so many comments on your blog, that I'm not sure if you'll ever see this. I'm a gay man, living in Japan but originally from Southern California. I heard a friend talking about your story, so I looked you up tonight. I read your sermon, and was so uplifted by your willingness to put yourself out there to stand up for what's right. It's true that acts of silence are worse than acts of evil, because it's the silent ones who don't speak out who are letting these things happen.

I applaud you for your actions, your bravery, and the ability to stand against all those who would speak out against you.

Keep going, don't look back, and know that your actions are reaching those in the pews, those worried about loosing their loved ones, those worried about how the church sees them. You are giving them hope.

Love and Light,
Joe

Rose said...

Father Geoff,

I've spent many years struggling with hating God after being turned on by a friend for my sexuality (three years AFTER I came out) based on religion and an implied concern that I would molest her daughter because I'm a lesbian. It's only recently that I've healed to the extent that I understand that it's not God, but flawed mortals who misinterpret God's love. I still find myself unable to attend church, too hurt to read the Bible, and have a hard time even listening to religious music, having spent so many years feeling that God had abandoned me.

Though I live in Fresno and attend Fresno State, I somehow didn't hear about your courageous words, how you stood up for the GLBTQ community and the human dignity of everyone in CA, until today. It's been hard even driving to school, seeing the Yes on 8 signs and bumper stickers that harden my heart and hurt my spirit.

I want to thank you for your words, and your refusal to be bullied from teaching the all-encompassing love of Christ. Jesus preached inclusion, non-judgment, and against persecution. I wish more men of the cloth recognized his message and preached it truly instead of giving in to the opposite of Christ's teachings: hate.

We Support Father Geoff Farrow said...

Hi - simply to say there's a facebook group to express solidarity with you now.

More power to you!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your courage and conviction to stand up for what is right. We admire you for it.

Drew said...

I write in tears simply to say: Thank you.

I wish you a safe journey.

Anonymous said...

God Bless you Father Geoff. I pray that you are not excluded from the very table that you understand all everyone should be invited to sit at.

Anonymous said...

Father Geoff,
I am a Gay father of two wonderful kids 11 & 14 I am very proud of who I am & what you said.We are both upstanding men in our communities & most see that & aspire to be like us.
Those can not see that are scared of the unknown or there are just like us.
I wish you the best in life & you are love by more people than you know.
J.W.Auburn

Mariah and Byron Edgington said...

Well said. We're so committed to marriage (for everyone) that we've created a website to affirm & celebrate healthy, happy couples. Please let us know how we can serve your community.

PlacboStud said...

Dear Father Geoff,

I want to thank you, and send you my praise and admiration for the words you have put in this blog. As a disabled gay man, I have developed a life long anger and resentment toward the church and organized religion in general, for it's exclusionary tendencies, and it's dependence on faith over reason, especially in regards to those who choose to use prayer instead of seeking real medical professional help in a medical crisis (such as Christian Scientists).
For the first time in as long as I can remember, I have seen and now read words from a true Man of Faith whom I can give my honest admiration and respect.

Thank you

S said...

Bless you, Father.

I am a catholic lesbian who has been struggling with the idea of being both at once.

This has really helped me.

Anonymous said...

Dear Father Geoff,

I completed RCIA and became a Catholic in March of last year. In our Tuesday night meetings the topic of homosexuality was sort of skimmed over. Our priest assured us that homosexuality should not be a source of shame and that like everyone else, homosexuals are loved and welcomed by the church. Sounded great to me.

It just so happens that one of my girlfriends met the GIRL of her dreams. They're not Catholic...who cares if my church won't marry them, right? Then came Prop 8 :(

Today, I was reading comments on a blog. I'm sure you can imagine what was being said about the church.

I googled "Catholics No on 8" and found a blog criticizing you. Happily, the blog included a link to yours. No such thing as bad publicity, right?

I just want to let you know that I think you are wonderful and I wish would have had the opportunity to attend Mass with you as the celebrant.

Love,

Jennifer

Raksha said...

Fr. Geoff: I just want to let you know I became a follower of your blog on this one very articulate and heartfelt post. I found it via the Talk To Action site digest I receive by e-mail. I wish I had known about it during the election when Prop. 8 was being debated in California. I admire anyone with the courage of his/her convictions, and you certainly fit that description.

Anonymous said...

Fr Geoff --

God bless you and your courage. I am a straight father of two but cannot for the life of me understand anti-gay bigotry, much less from the church. I was a Catholic for 40-plus years who finally left for the Unitarian church over issues like this.

I ran across your blog by accident but was riveted by your story and your courage. You have my complete respect and admiration.

Darcy Caballero said...

As a former Catholic and now a full-time Atheist, I agree 100% with what you've said. For years, I struggled with conflicting thoughts about homosexuality in my life. Granted, I'm not a lesbian, but I have friends that are both gay and lesbian and I have multiple gay relatives. I want them to be happy. I wanted to live judgment free and I knew the only way would be leaving the church.

I applaud you on your efforts for LGBT Rights and I wish you good luck, for this will be a long journey.

Anonymous said...

You give me hope. Love and God bless.

Rachael said...

Father Geoff,
I recently heard about you because of your bravery fighting against DADT. I do not personally identify with a religion but I wanted to thank you for not turning from the loving god Christianity follows. Knowing that there are people within the church who indeed practice what they preach is heartwarming. Thank you for all you do. I greatly admire your strength and courage. Again, thank you. You give me hope for a brighter future.

Belinda said...

I stumbled upon this blog when a friend shared me the link. Reading your post has really given me hope. Being bisexual, it's assuring to see that at least someone from the Church understands that love is something that should be embraced, regardless of gender.

The main reason I have cut ties with most of my Catholic classmates is because I could no longer sit back and hear them condemn the LGBTQ community. I have not come out yet for the fear of being ostracized and ultimately, that was the reason left the faith. I cannot count the amount of times I had contemplated giving up while listening to conversations that made me feel like I wasn't allowed to love and be loved because of my (as they called it) "condition".

From half way around the world, in a country where gay rights are unheard of, I want to express my utmost gratitude for the stand you are taking. You've inspired me to not give up on love just yet. Thank you so much.

andys said...

Hi Father Geoff,
Thank you for your courage. I understand you. I was on priesthood way for almost 6 year and I left it because I am gay as well.
Good luck!
Andy S.

BarBQBill said...

Your inspiring and thought provoking words are spoken from the heart. You have a moral compass so lacking in the church today. Would that these words have been uttered more often in churches I might still call myself a Catholic.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Father for your courage and insight! One correction - it is better to use the word "cosexual" couple instead of "heterosexual" couple. Not all male-female marriages are between heterosexual people. Keep up the good work and know there are tens of thousands of Catholic priests behind you!

rlb said...

As an old alumnus of CSUF I appreciate more than many your courageous stand. Best wishes.

Stephanie said...

I came across your blog from a fellow bride-to-be who has chosen you as an officiant for her wedding. I am so thankful for the opportunity to read this. Thank you for such a profound, true-hearted message. I can only hope that more within the religious and spiritual communities speak out with similar words.

Anonymous said...

You're AMAZING. There's a priest on YouTube called John Hollowel who is telling classrooms that "homosexuals" as he likes calling them..are commanded by God to remain celibate. That every gay person now until the end of time is not afforded the right to have romantic love or marriage simply because they're gay. He says that even if they find people are born gay they still are to remain celibate under the laws of God. How crazy is that? He now raised over 70k (made a video saying he donated 3k of his own money) to make a film about the "sin" of homosexual romantic love and marriage. Check out his vile sermons and "classrooms" on YouTube JOHN HOLLOWEL.

I left the Catholic Church for a few reasons but the main was because of what they do to gay people. I commend for your courage and I think that if there were more priests like you I would consider a return to the Church.