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

Medicine Hat News - - HOMETOWN NEWS - JEREMY APPEL jap­[email protected]­hat­news.com Twit­ter: MHNJere­myAp­pel

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.

NEWS FILE PHOTO

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.

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