MERIDEN, Conn. (ChurchMilitant.com) - Couples living together have been invited to "celebrate love" on Saint Valentine's Day by a Catholic pastor who deleted comments, scrubbed posts and doxxed faithful Catholics on social media for challenging his heterodoxy.
Father James Manship, the pastor of Saint Rose of Lima Church in Meriden, Connecticut posted an advertisement on social media for "a ceremony to celebrate love and friendship" at the parish on Saint Valentine's Day, inviting "couples married by the sacrament of marriage, engaged couples (in courtship) and couples living in a stable relationship."
Concerned Catholics in Connecticut challenged the pastor's invitation to those living "in a stable relationship" since the Church teaches such unions constitute grave sin.
Manship — or someone with access to run the parish Facebook page — went back and forth with those challenging him, deleting many of their comments and finally deleting the post.
The advertisement was posted again with "in a stable relationship" being changed to "in a free union," so Connecticut Catholics renewed their concern, noting the rephrasing did not change the heart of the matter.
"Free union? By definition that is adultery and fornication because there is no commitment before God. Partners may enter, stay and leave freely. Nice try, though. Still not Catholic," responded one commenter.
"How is condoning adultery and fornication in any way consistent with your mission as a Catholic Church?" asked another commenter.
"Father, if you don't care about your own immortal soul that's fine, you have free will; but please don't bring down the souls of your flock with you," said another commenter.
The response to some of these Catholics was to dox them, posting their home addresses: "You live at [address]. Please discuss your concerns with your pastor in [area]."
That post was then deleted and a new one appeared with the same information. As of Thursday, the post remained pinned at the top of the page.
He also advertised the event with an insert in the parish bulletin.
Church Militant reached out to Fr. Manship for clarification and comment but received no response.
Fr. James Manship explains how illegal immigrants can evade law enforcement
One involved Catholic, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Church Militant the doxing was passive-aggressive but not a big deal.
The big deal is Manship's dereliction of duty and promotion of immorality, according to this individual. Manship, the person said, is not only neglecting his duty as a Catholic priest to teach the truth about serious sin, but inviting his parishioners to celebrate serious sin under the guise of "love."
In a 2012 interview with New Haven Register, Manship said, "I really don't like to be called an activist. It disturbs me. I'm not an activist. I'm a priest."
"I do what I do because of my faith in Christ and my beliefs as a Roman Catholic," Manship said. "If it isn't, then I am just an activist and I am just a social worker."
The New Haven Register named Manship its 2011 "Person of the Year" for his proactivity: "Five years ago, when an increasing number of teens at St. Rose's Church wanted to go to college, but feared their undocumented status and lack of financial resources made that impossible, they turned to the Rev. James Manship for help."
Manship successfully helped illegal immigrants in Connecticut organize and lobby state legislators for legislation granting them driver's licenses.
Authorized under Connecticut Public Act 2013-89, the "Connecticut DMV has started a drive-only program for undocumented individuals who are 16 and older and cannot establish their legal presence in the United States or may not have a Social Security number," according to the Connecticut DMV website.
Latino Public Policy Foundation reported Mansfield said advocates now warn illegal immigrants not to carry their drive-only license at job sites in case ICE agents are present, in effect, advising them on how to evade federal law enforcement.
Manship is a member of CONECT, which describes itself as a "multi-faith" organization that seeks to "articulate a powerful moral voice to negotiate with business and government leaders regarding social, economic and political issues that affect our member congregations."
In February 2019, Manship went with two other priests to the U.S.-Mexican border to check the Catholic ministries serving migrants on both sides of the border.