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October 14, 2008


Last week Father Geoffrey Farrow of the Fresno, California Roman Catholic diocese took a brave stand against California's Proposition 8 at the end of his October 5th sermon.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Father Farrow compounded his opposition to Prop. 8 by coming out as a gay man during a television interview immediately preceding the sermon.

Last thursday Bishop John T. Steinbock removed Farrow from his parish, stripped away his salary and health benefits and ordered him to stay away from all church communities he had served. Father Farrow expected this and had removed all of his belongings from the church rectory just hours after the services.

After 23 years as a respected and well liked parish priest while all along struggling with keeping his sexuality a secret, the "last straw" came in the form of a pastoral letter from Bishop Steinbock. In that letter, Steinbock condemned the California Supreme Court's ruling that legalized same-sex marriage, and supported the passage of Proposition 8, calling marriage between a man and woman the "foundation blocks for society." Steinbock compared the court's action to efforts by Nazi Germany and the Communist regimes in Russia and China to alter family arrangements.

That letter created a major moral dilemma for Father Farrow. "At what point do you cease to be an agent for healing and growth and become an accomplice of injustice?" he asked.

Towelroad.com reported that Farrow told his parishoners,

"In directing the faithful to vote 'yes' on Proposition 8 the California bishops are not merely entering the political arena, they are ignoring the advances and insights of neurology, psychology, and the very statements made by the church itself that homosexuality is innate...I know that these words of truth will cost me dearly. But to withhold them would be far more costly and I would become accomplice to a moral evil that strips gay and lesbian people of their civil rights but of their human dignity as well."

In his disciplinary letter, Bishop Steinbock said that Farrow had abandoned his assignment without offering to discuss the issues. Steinbock said he had no choice but to suspend Farrow and hinted that other penalties could follow, including defrocking him.

Father Farrow is currently staying with friends in Los Angeles.