A lesbian couple turned away from St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in St. Clair Shores and later accepted as members at St. Basil the Great Catholic Church in Eastpointe say the experience has left them sour.
We chose this church because the sign said, ‘All are welcomed,’" said Mary Horon of Warren. "We figured St. Joan of Arc was a church where we could grow."
Instead, Horon and civil partner Cheryl Mathers were denied membership into St. Joan of Arc last month because they are "openly gay."
"It’s blatantly about us being gay and the church condemning homosexuality," Horon said Monday. "If this Catholic church is now saying gay and lesbians aren’t welcomed inside it’ll be interesting to see if they continue to head in that direction."
Horon said the Rev. Michael Bugarin of St. Joan of Arc told her two weeks after they applied for membership that the church would not accept the lesbian couple as members. St. Joan of Arc was closed Monday and Bugarin was unavailable for comment.
"The priest said he couldn’t have any gay people in his church," Horon recalled. "He called us, ‘sinners.’"
Ned McGrath, director of Communication for the Archdiocese of Detroit, issued a statement in response to the couple’s claim of discrimination.
"The Catholic Church is committed to the support of — and a belief in — the marriage of one man and one woman, and does not recognize so-called same-sex unions, whether civil or otherwise, period," McGrath said. "And, to register in a parish as ‘gay couple,’ provides, in fact, a recognition the Church cannot concede. At the same time, any individual who embraces the teachings of the Catholic Church is welcomed in the parishes of the Detroit Archdiocese." [Source]
This story sounds rather fishy to me. Especially the terminology of "applying for membership." If they in fact registered as a gay couple it seems like this was done as an act of gay rights advocacy rather than sincerely registering in a parish. Since the new code of Canon law does not require people to register at their territorial parish I don’t see how a registration could ever be lawfully denied. If it is other than the territorial parish then no registration would be required. If the priest actually said what was quoted then it is inexcusable. He could counsel them to not participate in the sacraments until such time as they have repented of seriously grave sin, but they should never be denied not going to Mass in the interim. Like I said though I have serious doubts about the veracity of this story.