**Fr. Wertin was called to a meeting with 2 auxillary bishops on Monday, October 11th. He was informed that complaints had been made to Rome regarding SJA’s practices. Two items were of particular concern: Fr. George’s August 29th bulletin article on inclusivity of our gay/lesbian parishioners and a story done by this website on the GLBT Pride Parade. In addition, the bishops told Fr. Wertin that guest speakers were not to be allowed to give a homily. Parishioners were invited by Fr. Wertin and the Parish Council to voice their concerns at two parish meetings this last week. Several of our webreporters were there and offered their observations. Please remember these are the opinions and observations of our parishioners and do not necessarily reflect the view of SJA as a whole.
It’s like deja vu all over again. Except it’s not 1978 with Gloria Steinem and her feminist message. In 2004, it’s Rome taking exception to St. Joan’s welcoming acceptance of those in the GLBT community.
A group of persons who attend our Sunday services alerted Rome of our stance and a certain cardinal promptly put the squeeze on Archbishop Flynn to get us in line. This, despite the fact that as a church we view the GLBT community for who they are – God’s children, like all the rest of us.
We have to clean up our act in other ways, too: no more outside speakers during Mass, and expunge an offending article on our Web site written by Father George in August reporting our involvement in the Gay Pride Parade.
How to respond to demands like these? That was the question that faced the 200 or so persons who attended a meeting in the church on Sunday afternoon. (The first of two; the second such meeting was on Monday evening and open to the whole parish as well.)
Anna & Fred Vagle began by playing an old Celtic tune meant to set the tone of the meeting. Anna read the words of the first stanza: Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart Be Thou naught else to me save that Thou art. Thou my best thought by day and by night Waking or sleeping Thy presence my light.Father George began by explaining the situation and expanding on his remarks earlier at both Masses.
He told of a meeting with two local bishops that he was called to last week at the Chancery wherein the above demands were laid out to him. He said that St. Joan and Archbishop Flynn have different perspectives on the questions at hand. The Archbishop has to look at the whole Church, not just our parish. St. Joan’s is trying to speak with a prophetic voice backed up with actions that appear to some to be inconsistent with Church doctrine, but which we view as eminently Christian. The bottom line according to George is that “unity is essential.”
This meeting was called so that we as a congregation could voice our concerns and offer input into the decisions that lie ahead. Margaret Lulic, the presider, described the format of the meeting after George finished his remarks. First, though, she put this question to those present: What can we do to stay in the Church and honor that tradition without losing our Soul? How do we make this situation draw out our higher selves? A panel consisting of Peter Eichten, Julie Madden, Steve Boyle, Kathy Itzin and Susan Sell would field the answers and any questions from the audience. One of the first was what would happen if we refused to implement the demands laid out before us? Pete Eichten tried to answer that one. He said it was uncertain. What could happen though, was clear: George could be removed and the Archbishop would appoint a priest of his own choosing to lead us.