Two homosexual men who proudly and loudly came out of the closet are now out of the church choir.
The Yonkers men, Michael Sabatino Jr. and Robert Voorheis, who have been together as a couple since 1978, were among the first to make the trek over the border to be “married” in the Protestant United Church of Canada after a court in Ontario recognized ‘gay’ marriage in June.
The New York Times published an announcement of their Canadian nuptials Oct. 5.
The pair was also profiled in their local paper, The Journal News, and in an article posted on ChristianityToday.com.
The publicity apparently shook the faith of officials at the Catholic church the men attend in the Bronx. When they arrived for service Sunday, according to the Journal News, they were confronted by Monsignor Edmund Whalen and told they were no longer welcome to sing with the choir.
“He told us he couldn’t have us in a public ministry after going public in the newspapers,” Sabatino told the paper. “He said, ‘I have parishioners who are complaining. They’re asking me what I’m going to do about this.’”
When the men told Whalen to put it in writing, according to Sabatino, he responded by saying he would “shut down the choir” rather than allow them to sing in it.”
Having sung in the choir at St. Benedict’s Church in Throgs Neck, New York, for 32 years, Sabatino’s face was a fixture in the church. Voorheis added his voice after the two met.
“It was a shock to the choir – there were a lot of tears,” Charles Koczka, a choir member, told the Journal News. “I’ve been told by a previous pastor that I couldn’t be in a choir either, because I had the audacity of entering a second marriage after a divorce. I was told to get lost. So I know how it feels to go up against church management.”
Whalen referred comment on the matter to Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York.
“I don’t know these individuals or the specifics of their circumstances, but in the church, if there is the possibility of what we call scandal, and there would be a possibility that the teachings of the church would be questioned or people could believe that the teachings of the church on a certain matter had changed or were unimportant, a pastor has not only the right but the obligation to act,” the paper quotes Zwilling as saying.
The Catholic Church opposes “gay” marriages and recently reaffirmed its position when the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a document asserting, “Those who would move from tolerance to the legitimization of specific rights for cohabiting homosexual persons need to be reminded that the approval or legalization of evil is something far different from the toleration of evil.”
The movement to legalize “gay” marriage gained momentum in the United States in June following a Supreme Court decision rejecting Texas’ ban on same-sex sodomy. As WorldNetDaily reported, the landmark 6-3 ruling in Lawrence v. Texas is regarded by advocates as endorsing a constitutional right to “gay” sex.
Largely in response to that ruling, the Vatican released details of an action plan to battle the legalization of same-sex unions by civil governments in July. A sternly worded document approved by Pope John Paul called on Catholic politicians to help stop the movement.
“Marriage exists solely between a man and a woman,” said the 12-page document. “Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law.”
“Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behavior,” the document further stated, “but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity.”
“The Catholic Church does not make it easy to stay in their denomination,” Sabatino said. “These are things that people leave the church for.”
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