Thursday, October 16, 2008


A week ago, Father Geoffrey Farrow stood before his Roman Catholic parishioners in Fresno and delivered a sermon that placed him squarely at odds with his church over gay marriage.

With Proposition 8 on the November ballot, and his own bishop urging Central Valley priests to support its definition of traditional marriage, Farrow told congregants he felt obligated to break "a numbing silence" about church prejudice against homosexuals.

"How is marriage protected by intimidating gay and lesbian people into loveless and lonely lives?" he asked parishioners of the St. Paul Newman Center. "I am morally compelled to vote no on Proposition 8."

Then Farrow -- who had revealed that he was gay during a television interview immediately before Mass -- added a coda to his sermon.

"I know these words of truth will cost me dearly," he said. "But to withhold them . . . I would become an accomplice to a moral evil that strips gay and lesbian people not only of their civil rights but of their human dignity as well."

On Thursday, Fresno Bishop John T. Steinbock removed Farrow, 50, as pastor of the St. Paul Newman Center, which primarily serves students and faculty at Cal State Fresno.

"Your statement contradicted the teaching of the Catholic Church and has brought scandal to your parish community as well as the whole Church," Steinbock wrote in a disciplinary letter that also admonished Farrow against "using the Internet as a means of continuing your conflict with the Church's teaching."

The priest also was stripped of his salary and benefits, and ordered to stay away from all church communities he had served.

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