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COLUMBUS, Ohio (ChurchMilitant.com) - Lay supporters of a priest who was sidelined by his bishop in Columbus, Ohio for reaching out to homosexuals plan to carry on his work and offer it as a subtle protest on his behalf.
Following Church Militant's report on the removal of all priestly duties from Fr. Joseph Klee, Alycia Hartley (the cleric's "friend and spiritual daughter") told the apostolate on Thursday that his supporters will continue his marriage rallies as an outreach to homosexuals.
"We want to carry on his work and do it in honor of Fr. Klee," said Hartley.
Klee, who has been outspoken on issues ranging from abortion to the dangers of socialism, got into hot water with Columbus bishop Robert Brennan soon after Klee held an outdoor prayer vigil on June 19 and June 20. On the latter date, he featured a sign that proclaimed, "God's marriage = 1 man + 1 woman."
Hartley confirmed that Klee's sign at the June 20th vigil was identical to the one often used by the Catholic organization American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP). She also noted that Klee's marriage rallies were quite similar to the Rosary rallies conducted by the Catholic group America Needs Fatima (ANF).
Klee verified to LifeSite that Brennan's removal of his priestly assignments was caused by his "outreach" on June 19 and 20 as well as by threats of violence from "the local active homosexual community."
But Klee loves everyone regardless of what sexual attractions they have, affirmed Hartley, who has known the priest for nearly 20 years: "Father has a great love for every human soul. He wanted to teach those with homosexual tendencies how to strive to live chaste lives. He has no hatred for homosexuals; in fact, he goes out on a limb in order to bring them the truth which is so unpopular in our culture."
That's why he began a local branch of the Catholic outreach to homosexuals called Courage, Hartley related. "Father Klee started the Courage group here in Columbus because he wanted people who have this tendency to live in the peace and love of Christ," she said.
She further explained that Klee's love for those struggling with same-sex attraction is rooted in his love for Christ: "He sees this great gift God has given us, namely Our Lord Jesus Christ, and he wants all to know about it. He wishes to help those with homosexual attractions because he knows firsthand from his work in Courage how much of a 'chew you up, spit you out' lifestyle this is."
Klee was a chaplain for 10 years at the local diocesan Courage program. The program is for people struggling with same-sex attraction. The Catholic outreach emphasizes the need for such individuals to remain chaste and live according to Catholic moral teaching with the help of the grace flowing from the sacraments. The program eventually grew in popularity and Klee was replaced.
Hartley says Klee's problems with the diocese began with complaints from active homosexuals in the area.
"Father is willing to speak about unpopular truths," she affirmed. "There is a large homosexual community in Columbus, and it seems they somehow scared the bishop into ousting Fr. Klee."
Hartley explained how Klee views such pushback from homosexuals. "Father always says that those who are the angriest and most crude are those who are most likely fighting something on their conscience," she recalled. "I think these people, quite frankly, are living sinful lifestyles and therefore want to squash the truth."
She asserted that Klee's supporters are unhappy with the fact that he's being censored by his bishop for simply speaking the truth. Hartley added that the continuance of Klee's outreach to the homosexual community is intended both as a subtle protest against the way he was treated for speaking the truth as well as against the suppression of Catholic truth itself.
"It worries me that this is what is happening when we speak out for our beliefs in this diocese," Hartley lamented. "Everything we did was in accord with Church teaching."
Hartley added, "So, part of it is just taking a stand to say we have a right to tell the truth to people."
She said those who wish to participate in Klee's holy hours can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.