B.C. Catholic church stands firm on decision to deny gay pride event

Church released statement saying event is against beliefs, morals

Star of the Sea Roman Catholic Parish has issued a statement after the church denied a request from the White Rock Pride Society earlier this month to host an event in the church’s community centre.

The statement issued by the parish pastor, Father Glenn Dion, says that while the church has received public feedback both in support of, and opposition to its stance, it will not budge on its decision to deny the Pride Society’s request.

One of the concerns raised by White Rock Pride Society president Ernie Klassen is that the hall is named the “Star of the Sea Community Centre.”

“If you want to call yourself a community centre, and get the property tax relief from the city, then I’m now, as a White Rock citizen, subsidizing their taxes and I’m not allowed to use their facility,” Klassen told Peace Arch News last week.

The approximate value of the property tax exemption is $11,800.

RELATED: White Rock Pride Society ‘discriminated’ against by Catholic church, president says

The statement, issued last week, makes note of the name of the community centre.

“It is somehow being perceived as a public facility rather than a privately owned one, which is a misunderstanding,” the statement reads. “We will adjust the sign for greater clarity. We do allow others to use our hall as long as they are not in conflict with the mission and values of the Parish.”

The statement notes that the contract used for any prospective renters states that the renter “acknowledges that the Premises may in no event be used for any purpose which is unlawful or contrary to the practices, or teaching on matters of faith and morals, of the Roman Catholic Church as interpreted by the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Vancouver.”

The statement says that the White Rock Pride Society would “clearly fall within the context of those who promote, practice, and celebrate the intimacy of same sex individuals, the practice of same sex marriage, and the homosexual lifestyle of these proponents.”

“This is in stark contrast to the teaching of the Catholic Church that upholds the sanctity of the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, and the call to live a chaste life for all people, regardless of sexual orientation, outside the sacred bond of marriage.”

The statement says that all people, “no matter their chosen walk of life,” are children of God.

“The Catholic Church teaches that we hold all people in this loving regard, with an inherent right to respect and dignity, even those who live far outside her teaching.”

Regardless of the love Christ has for all, the statement reads, “it doesn’t mean that we need to cooperate in the activities of groups that are diametrically opposed to the Church’s teachings on faith and morals.”

The statement notes that some have taken the position that the use of the Star of the Sea Community Centre should be without restriction, even if the event stands in contrast to the Catholic beliefs and values.

“That would suggest that we couldn’t decline to let our hall be used by groups such as those espousing hatred against a minority or ethnic group, or those wanting to raise funds for the sake of promoting abortion or euthanasia and assisted dying. Our Catholic facilities would not be open for such groups to use.”

The statement says that the parish has a mission to follow Jesus Christ, and all are invited to do the same.

“Once again, the use of our churches, our living quarters, our schools, our hall, and our meeting rooms, are to bear witness to these faith-based principles, even when it seems unpopular to do so.”

Klassen said Tuesday that since PAN published an article regarding the church’s decision to deny the event, he has had an “overwhelming” number of people from Star of the Sea church offer their support to the White Rock Pride Society.

“They’re saying, please don’t give up on this,” Klassen said. “It makes me feel like the members of the local church community are not in sync with the policies of the church. It felt absolutely wonderful.”

Klassen said those who reached out to him were, for the most part, older women and grandmothers.

“They’re coming and saying, ‘My grandson is gay and I really want him to feel like he can be part of the church if he chooses to.’”

Klassen said the number of businesses, individuals, and friends that have reached out to the society to show support has been “fantastic.”



aaron.hinks@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Morning start: Numerous shipwrecks can be found below Kootenay Lake

Here is your Kootenays’ morning start for Thursday, May 28

Geotechnical work set to get underway at Rossland Museum

Crews will be working at the museum from June 1 to 12

City of Rossland asks motorists to be mindful of four bears roaming around Trail hill

The bears have been seen multiple times along the highway this month

Young farmers find a home through land-matching program

Young Agrarians links would-be farmers with landowners who have land to spare

B.C. legislature coming back June 22 as COVID-19 emergency hits record

Pandemic restrictions now longer than 2017 wildfire emergency

Feds delay national action plan for missing and murdered Indigenous women

Meanwhile, the pandemic has exacerbated the violence facing many Indigenous women and girls

B.C.’s essential grocery, hardware store employees should get pandemic pay: retail group

Only B.C.’s social, health and corrections workers are eligible for top-ups

COLUMN: Canada needs to remember rural communities as thoughts turn to pandemic recovery

Small towns often rely on tourism, which has been decimated by COVID-19

Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto vying to be NHL hubs, but there’s a catch

The NHL unveiled a return-to-play plan that would feature 24 teams

B.C. sees 9 new COVID-19 cases, one death as officials watch for new cases amid Phase Two

Number of confirmed active cases is at 244, with 37 people in hospital

Nanaimo senior clocked going 50 km/hr over limit says her SUV shouldn’t be impounded

RCMP say they can’t exercise discretion when it comes to excessive speeding tickets

Illicit-drug deaths up in B.C. and remain highest in Canada: chief coroner

More than 4,700 people have died of overdoses since B.C. declared a public health emergency in early 2016

Most Read