A Bishop’s Gesture of Kindness to Gay Man Who Sued over Discrimination

PETERBOROUGH, ON, June 10, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A man who caused great turmoil in the Catholic Church in Canada has been shown kindness and forgiveness by the very Bishop against whom he launched a human rights complaint.  In June 2009, Jim Corcoran, a man who self-identifies as a ‘gay’ man, launched a complaint seeking $25,000 in damages from Peterborough Bishop Nicola De Angelis, after he and his homosexual partner were forbidden from continuing as altar servers at St. Michael’s Church in Cobourg.

It is believed that this was the first case in Canada to be accepted by a human rights tribunal relating to the internal governance of the Catholic Church. The case led to fears of serious repercussions for the Church’s freedom in Canada. Throughout the public scrutiny of the case, which gained international attention, the bishop remained firm in his resolve not to permit the human rights mechanism to interfere in Church matters.

However, in May Corcoran dropped the complaint without terms or conditions after meeting with the Bishop and praying with him.

Last Sunday, Bishop De Angelis said Mass in the troubled Cobourg parish and afterward went to the home of Jim Corcoran where he had supper with Corcoran and his mother.

In previous conversations with LifeSiteNews Corcoran explained that he felt the situation at the parish was uncharitable toward him. He noted moreover that while he did live with his long-time homosexual partner, his mother lived with them in the home and they maintained celibacy.

In his homily at the Mass, Bishop De Angelis spoke of the “sad and avoidable division” in the parish.  He recalled the Church’s teaching against slander and spoke about respecting “the dignity of each person, regardless of our differences in language, colour of our skin, religious belief, sex, sexual orientation, marital status.”

However, the Bishop also preached on the Church’s teachings on “faith and morals” coming from the authority of Christ.  “The Church proposes it doesn’t impose,” he said. “Nobody is forced to be a Catholic. If you choose to be one, you cannot pick and choose what to believe.”

Both Corcoran and the Bishop have decided not to speak to the media about the case.  However, the Bishop’s office provided LifeSiteNews with a copy of the notes for the homily.

Corcoran and his partner who were originally asked to serve at the altar by the parish priest Fr. Allan Hood, are no longer permitted to serve in that capacity as the bishop previously explained it was causing scandal in the community.  However, at the Mass on Sunday Corcoran and his mother were asked to bring the gifts (the bread and wine used) up to the altar.

In the final analysis, the alarming aspect of the controversy was seen to be the possible involvement of the Human Rights Tribunal, rather than Corcoran’s attempts for a satisfactory resolution to what he believed was an injustice suffered by his partner and himself.

Suresh Dominic of Campaign Life Catholic told LifeSiteNews last month, “We’re very thankful for the resolution of this case.”  Dominic added:  “From the outset it had much less to do with Jim Corcoran than with the Human Rights Tribunal thinking it could tell the Catholic Church how it should run itself.  I pray we don’t see more of that, but given the direction these Tribunals have been going, I would not be surprised to see it again.”

I think, in retrospect, the bishop and Corcoran acted like adults.  I commend both of them for it.  I hope the parish does not ostracize Corcoran but forgives him and moves on.

In the end, the Catholic Church is not about “picking on gays”.  She recognizes that we all have sins, but we are all still welcome.

The important thing, however, is that sexual sin cannot be normalized or celebrated.  It must be faced with a maturity and resolution that Christian discipleship demands.

For once, gay vs. catholic has a happy ending…or so it seems.

I have no doubt that Corcoran’s mother had a role to play in the complaint being dropped.

For that and for Mother Mary’s intercession, we can be thankful.  Where would we be with out them?

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