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