JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (ChurchMilitant.com) - In Missouri, Bp. John Gaydos' commitment to a pro-gay diocesan measure continues to stoke tensions in the diocese of Jefferson City.
On October 7, Catholics from across the Show-Me State gathered in Jefferson City to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Missouri Catholic Conference.
The celebration was a momentous affair, featuring prelates Abp. Christophe Pierre, papal nuncio to the United States, and St. Louis Abp. Robert J. Carlson, in addition to Bp. Gaydos.
Meanwhile, roughly two dozen faithful Catholics came together to pray the Rosary outside St. Joseph Cathedral during the commemoration's closing Mass. The vigil was organized as an appeal to Bp. Gaydos, the architect of a radical shift in diocesan policy shift toward accommodation of active homosexuality.
Ahead of Saturday's gathering, the group spent hundreds of dollars crafting signs reading, "Bishop Gaydos: Stop the Process" — a reference to the bishop's provocative, pro-gay policy.
But the very presence of LGBT agenda opponents seemed to rile high-ranking diocesan staff member Jay Nies, who abruptly lashed out at them in the midst of their prayer.
As captured on video, Nies, editor of diocesan newspaper The Catholic Missourian, strode in front of the group to position himself for a photo of clergy outside the cathedral. Suddenly, clearly rankled, he turned and shot back a single angry line: "He doesn't hear you!"
The battle in Jefferson City began in May when Gaydos issued A Pastoral Process of Accompaniment and Dialogue, a 17-page policy statement, pushing diocesan school administrators to admit students from same-sex households without requiring their parents to sign a pledge to respect Catholic ethics.
The policy has provoked an ongoing uproar across the normally placid, largely rural diocese.
Bishop Gaydos endorsed the "development and presentation" of the program, claiming it "promotes our Catholic moral teaching and supports the role of the pastor to act in the best interests of the people of his parish."
But his case was quickly undermined by pro-LGBT blog Proud Parenting, which hailed Jefferson City as a "pioneer among other U.S. dioceses," concerning its "guidance on inclusion of students from families headed by LGBT parents."
Defenders of Church teaching warn the policy will initiate a progressive collapse of Catholic ethics in diocesan schools and denounce it as compelling teachers and clergy, in practice, to ignore the spiritual and psychological detriments inherent in same-sex homes.
Bishop Gaydos has suffered backlash for his decision to back the pro-LGBT school policy.
In May, he wrote a letter to every priest in his diocese, asking them to stand with him, through the controversy.
In August, Church Militant reported that a source very close to the events shared that in the time since, the prelate had been abandoned by his diocese, owing to the enormity of the public outcry against him:
Principals throughout the diocese do not support the diocesan plan. The bishop called his staff to a meeting two weeks after the news broke to chastise them for their poor handling of the matter. ... The only person left defending this policy is the bishop himself. Everyone who was involved in its development has sought to distance themselves from it.
Gaydos remains committed to his plan, despite calls from faithful Jefferson City Catholics to rescind it.