PICTON, Ontario (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Canadian priest is standing firm in the face of withering criticism from LGBT activists — and from his own bishop — after reminding his parishioners that Catholics cannot participate in "gay pride" events.
In his June 9 parish bulletin, Fr. Robert Chisholm, pastor of St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church in Picton, Ontario, included a warning that faithful may not take part in "Pride Month" celebrations.
"A reminder that Catholics and all other Christians should not attend LGBTQ2 'Pride Month' events held this month. They promote a culture and encourage activities that are contrary to Christian faith and morals," he wrote. "This is especially harmful to children because it could lead them away from God's revealed Truth. Even in 'The County' there are Pride flags and banners flying courtesy of the Government. Think ... these are your tax dollars at work!"
Father Chisholm's notice sparked massive controversy even among local Catholics. On June 14, parents and teachers clad in rainbow "pride" colors staged a demonstration outside St. Gregory Catholic School, unfurling banners reading "This is a safe space."
To the dismay of faithful Picton Catholics, local prelate Abp. Michael Mulhall of Kingston followed with a statement denouncing Fr. Chisholm's message.
"I did not sanction this message," Mulhall declared, "and it does not reflect the spirit of accompanying charity and compassion that should always characterize our faith."
Mulhall's disavowal of Fr. Chisholm did nothing to placate LGBT activists and their allies. Ahead of the June 16 10 a.m. Mass, hundreds gathered at St. Gregory the Great to protest.
As Catholics inside the church prayed the Rosary and the St. Michael the Archangel prayer for protection, demonstrators converged outside bearing rainbow banners, signs accusing Fr. Chisholm of "hate" and images of the Sacred Heart of Jesus declaring "Jesus takes pride in everyone."
During the Mass, Fr. Chisholm announced to parishioners that he had been instructed not to preach a homily that day and instead would read a statement from Abp. Mulhall's office.
The statement acknowledged that Fr. Chisholm's "Pride Month" warning had "offended" many in the community, and contained an apology for "any hurt" he may have caused.
Speaking to LifeSiteNews after, Campaign Life Coalition President Jeff Gunnarson, who attended the Mass to support the beleaguered priest, noted that Fr. Chisholm "read that statement in such a way that he did not apologize," adding it was clear that "this was not his statement."
After reciting the Nicene Creed, Fr. Chisholm led parishioners in singing "Faith of Our Fathers," a hymn commemorating the English martyrs put to death in the 16th and 17th centuries for refusing to renounce Catholicism.
"Prior to singing the song," Gunnarson recounted, "Fr. Chisholm explained that the song, when it mentions 'dungeon, fire and sword,' refers to the various ways these Catholic martyrs were put to death."
"While not commenting on his previous bulletin announcement in any way," he added, "it was as if Fr. Chisholm were telling the congregation that we need to proclaim the Faith today without apology, without hesitation, even if it means becoming martyrs for the Faith."
"It's as if he were saying that this is how we respond to such events as Catholics," Gunnarson reflected. "We have to look to the martyrs."
In spite of the furor over his statement, Fr. Chisholm continues to hold fast, telling Canadian media, "We're just promoting Catholic teaching. Because as a shepherd, it's my duty to keep my flock safe."