California Parish Flaunts ‘Married’ Gay Parish Council Member

by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  •  July 7, 2017   

"John and his husband Willie are the parents of twin third graders at St. Clare School"

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. ( - A parish in the San Jose diocese in California is openly employing a gay married man, who is an active member of the parish council.

Saint Clare parish in Santa Clara has posted on its parish website brief biographies of their parish council members. On a page titled "Meet the St. Clare Parish Council," the biography of parishioner John Sullivan ends with the following: "John and his husband Willie are the parents of twin third graders at St. Clare School."

The Church staunchly opposes same-sex marriage, and branches of Catholic Charities have closed adoption agencies rather than place children with same-sex parents. Even though Sullivan and his same-sex husband are in custody of two children, he nevertheless works for Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County as the director of training for psychology doctoral interns, providing "assessment and psychotherapy services for individuals, couples and families in Spanish and English."

Several U.S. bishops have disallowed individuals in public same-sex relationships from assuming roles of parish leadership. Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia published guidelines last year that read:

[T]wo persons in an active, public same-sex relationship, no matter how sincere, offer a serious counter-witness to Catholic belief, which can only produce moral confusion in the community. Such a relationship cannot be accepted into the life of the parish without undermining the faith of the community, most notably the children. Finally, those living openly same-sex lifestyles should not hold positions of responsibility in a parish nor should they carry out any liturgical ministry or function.

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois issued guidelines last month, which bar from ministry individuals involved in a public, same-sex marriages. "Persons who are publicly living in a same-sex marriage are not to serve in a public liturgical ministry, including but not limited to reader and extraordinary minister of Holy Communion," wrote Bp. Paprocki.

He also refused to admit same-sex couples to the sacraments or grant them a Catholic funeral "unless they give some signs of repentance [of having lived a homosexual lifestyle] before their death." This was rejected two weeks later by Bp. Patrick McGrath of San Jose, who wrote, "We will not refuse the sacraments or Christian burial to anyone who requests them in good faith," referring explicitly to the LGBT community.

Bishop McGrath cites Pope Francis, who said, "The Eucharist is not a prize for the perfect." The bishop fails to take note of the fact that Pope Francis is against adoption of children by same-sex couples like Sullivan and "his husband Willie," who are the "parents of twin third graders at St. Clare School." At the Humanum conference in 2014, Pope Francis stated, "Children have a right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child's development and emotional maturity."

Children have a right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child's development and emotional maturity.

Studies have shown that adoption of children by same-sex couples causes psychological damage to children. A study by Dr. Paul Sullins of Catholic University of America found among children reared by same-sex parents:

  • 18 percent were depressed
  • 51 percent of these same people became depressed by age 28
  • 44 percent were suicidal (three times higher than those raised by straight parents)
  • 93 percent felt distant from parents growing up
  • 73 percent of these same people felt distant from their parents as adults

Research by the New Family Structure Study, which surveyed 3,000 adults raised by same-sex couples, revealed these people suffered from the following:

  • Poor educational attainment
  • Low levels of happiness, mental and physical health
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Unemployment
  • Substance abuse
  • Criminal activity
  • Unmarried, or infidelity if married

In his directive, Bp. Paprocki said children of same-sex parents could attend Catholic schools provided they "agree to abide by the Family School Agreement." This agreement forbids such couples from publicizing their same-sex relationships. The directive states that parents "who cause public scandal by ... making a public issue of their state of life contrary to Catholic teaching shall be considered in violation of the Family School Agreement."

Sullivan and St. Clare parish have made Sullivan's same-sex marriage public on their parish website.

Church Militant contacted the pastor of St. Clare's parish as well as the principal of the school, but both refused to comment. Calls to the diocese and to Catholic Charities have not been returned.


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