PROVIDENCE, R.I. (ChurchMilitant.com) - Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island is supporting a priest who fired his parish's gay music director.
Father Francesco Francese was appointed pastor at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Providence this summer. After learning that the parish music director, Michael Templeton, had contracted a so-called "marriage" with his gay partner, he met with him privately to inform him that Church policy doesn't allow people to publicly represent the Church while living a public life in contradiction to Church teaching.
After Templetom stepped down Monday, September 19, a small group of parishioners protested the affair by sporting rainbow garb at Mass on the following Sunday and singing "All Are Welcome" during the recitation of the Nicene Creed. After the incident, as well as backlash from the media, Bp. Tobin issued a statement defending Fr. Francese:
Any person who holds a ministerial position in the Church, as an employee or a volunteer, is expected to live in a way that is fully consistent with the teachings and faith of the Church. If an individual deliberately and knowingly enters into a relationship or engages in activity that contradicts the core teachings of the Church, that individual leaves the Church no choice but to respond.
A priest of the diocese of Providence, who requested to remain anonymous, spoke with ChurchMilitant.com. He believes the focus should be on the disrespect shown by parishioners who retailiated against their new pastor by disrupting the Mass he was offering.
"The real story is the parishioners protesting like they did," he told ChurchMilitant.com. "I think that really shows a lack of the sense of the sacred on their part. He's the new pastor. He's only been pastor there for like two and a half months. This was his first parish. I felt bad for him."
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The priest source told ChurchMilitant.com that his concern was for the improperly formed faith of parishioners. "They ought to have a sense of the sacred," he emphasized. "I'm concerned that they have been malformed in the Faith. They think that this is actually the Christian faith."
"I saw in one news article that tolerance is a Christian value," he continued. "Tolerance of evil, tolerance of sin is not a Christian value."