Catholic vicar under fire for homophobic remarks
MHCBE addresses reports of Father Jerome, who did homilies for local school openings, calling Pride flag invention of Satan
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Calgary’s vicar for education, who delivered homilies at the grand openings of Medicine Hat’s Ecole St. John Paul II and Monsignor McCoy Schools, has come under fire for homophobic remarks that surfaced in late 2018.
However, neither the Medicine Hat Catholic Board of Education, nor the archdiocese, would explicitly apologize for offence caused by Lavigne.
In a video from February 2018, dubbed “The Rainbow,” Fr. Jerome Lavigne, who is also a pastor at Calgary’s St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church, says Satan was “the master behind” the rainbow Pride flag, describing the symbol as “nothing short of spitting and laughing in God’s face.”
He also shared a stage with prominent white nationalist Faith Goldy in February 2016, prior to her being fired from hard-right news outlet Rebel
Media, at an event discussing sex education, according to StarMetro Calgary.
Goldy reportedly spoke against gay-straight alliances and called being transgender a “mental illness” at the event.
Both videos have since been removed from the internet, but a transcript from a September 2018 sermon that’s still on Lavigne’s “Swords of Truth” website appears to suggest homosexuality is a choice when he says, “There’s no such thing as ‘God made me this way’.”
Chair Dick Mastel says the board has only encountered Lavigne twice, but praised the homilies he delivered on both occasions, declining to comment specifically on his past homophobic remarks.
“Our only contact with Fr. Jerome has been here for the opening of McCoy and John Paul II,” he said.
“In both of those events, he has given a very thoughtful, very Christian message, and I thought he did an outstanding job.”
According to its website, the MHCBE “is committed to ensuring that all students and employees will be provided with a welcoming, caring, respectful, safe, Catholic learning environment and affirms the rights of each student and employee as provided for in the Alberta Human Rights Act and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
Ecole St. John Paul II School principal Robert Dumanowski declined to comment on Lavigne’s remarks, forwarding any media inquiries on the matter to the MHCBE.
Bishop William McGratten of the diocese said in a statement that Lavigne took down “The Rainbow” from his website, in accordance with McGratten’s request. McGratten said the homily was based on the Book of Genesis, which “was expanded to include some reflections on homosexuality.”
“However, these reflections did not fully capture that we are all created by God and He loves us all so that each person receives from God their inherent dignity.
“The Catholic Church advocates that we live together in an atmosphere of peace, safety and respect for the dignity of one another regardless of age, ancestry, body image, culture, sexual orientation and religion,” he said.
The statement did not say what, if any, disciplinary measures would be taken against the vicar.
Lavigne did not respond by press time to the News’s request for comment.
Fr. Jerome of the Diocese of Calgary blesses each classroom at Ecole St. John Paul II School with holy water after its grand opening ceremony last year.