Gay Catholic pas­toral as­so­ciate says he won’t sue after fir­ing

Edmonton Journal - - CITY - JONNY WAKE­FIELD jwake­field@post­media.com

A for­mer pas­toral as­so­ciate who says he was fired by the Catholic Arch­dio­cese of Ed­mon­ton for re­fus­ing to say whether he is in a same-sex re­la­tion­ship says he won’t pur­sue le­gal ac­tion.

Mark Gue­vara, who said in a Face­book post Feb. 6 that he had been fired after the arch­dio­cese in­ves­ti­gated an LGBT prayer group he formed as an em­ployee, said Catholics around the world have since reached out with words of sup­port.

After meet­ing with lawyers Tues­day, he said he won’t be tak­ing the church to court.

“While it is dis­crim­i­na­tion, I just don’t know how the court would rule on it,” Gue­vara told Post­media on Wed­nes­day. “Based on the costs both fi­nan­cially and emo­tion­ally ... it would just be too much. It would be un­bear­able to jour­ney in a le­gal fight.”

He added he didn’t want a le­gal ac­tion to im­pact his cred­i­bil­ity as a “bridge builder” within the church.

“I want to cre­ate di­a­logue so the broader Catholic com­mu­nity can speak with our broth­ers and sis­ters who are LGBT and to jour­ney to­ward the truth to­gether,” he said.

The arch­dio­cese has not di­rectly ad­dressed Gue­vara’s claims, cit­ing pri­vacy is­sues.

How­ever, in a writ­ten state­ment last week, arch­dio­cese chief com­mu­ni­ca­tions of­fi­cer Lor­raine Tur­chan­sky wrote that any­one who works for the arch­dio­cese “agrees to live in ac­cord with the teach­ings of the Catholic Church and its sacra­men­tal the­ol­ogy.”

Tur­chan­sky wrote that the­ol­ogy holds that mar­riage “is a sacra­ment, in which a man and a woman prom­ise be­fore God to en­ter into a com­mit­ted, exclusive and per­ma­nent re­la­tion­ship.

“It is par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant, and un­der­stand­able, that some­one who serves in a lead­er­ship or teach­ing role in the church be a prac­tis­ing Catholic who lives in ac­cord with its teach­ings,” she stated.

The Al­berta Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion said there are “com­pet­ing grounds” in cases where re­li­gious en­ti­ties fire em­ploy­ees for not ad­her­ing to their doc­trines, which makes hu­man rights com­plaints com­pli­cated.

Gue­vara was a lay em­ployee who worked as a pas­toral as­so­ciate in St. Al­bert.

In­spired by sim­i­lar min­istries around the world, he worked to cre­ate an LGBT prayer group within the Ed­mon­ton arch­dio­cese.

How­ever, he did not seek ap­proval from the arch­bishop, which Gue­vara said is typ­i­cally not needed.

He was later asked by his em­ployer whether he was in a same­sex re­la­tion­ship. Gue­vara said many peo­ple within the church know he is gay.

Gue­vara said he re­fused to an­swer the ques­tion on moral grounds.

“They took my re­fusal to an­swer as suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence to prove that I am in one,” he wrote in his post.

Mark Gue­vara

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