A rural Catholic parish in Minnesota has come under fire after its new pastor dismissed three gay men from their musical ensemble after he discovered that they were all in same-sex marriages.
The Church of St. Joseph in Taylor Falls and the Church of St. Francis Xavier in Shafer's pastor, Father John Drees, dismissed Bob Bernard, Dominic Mitchell, and Travis Loeffler from the church ensemble last month. He later on explained to the church's trustees that the three musicians' gay marriages went against the teachings of the Catholic Church, The Associated Press relayed.
Bernard told the Pioneer Press that he was not thinking about leaving the parish. He also said the three of them do not plan on protesting against the decision to dismiss them from the church ensemble.
"I've been discouraging people from leaving. I don't intend to leave," said Bernard. "We didn't want this to turn out to be another 'bash the Catholic Church' story, and we're emphatic about that."
Still, Drees' decision has stirred concern among some parishioners that more people could leave. Others voiced their alarm over the declining inclusivity in their tight-knit community.
Bernard entered into a same-sex marriage in September last year and only told Drees about it recently after being asked about his marital status. His final paycheck had a note attached to it that informed him that his employee status had ended on Dec. 5, 2017, the National Catholic Reporter detailed.
Loeffler and Mitchell, who had gotten married to each other in January last year, was informed about their terminations via phone. However, it was not clear how Drees discovered that they were married as they had never told the priest about it and were careful not to show any signs of their relationship.
Meanwhile, Drees said he would not release a public comment on the issue out of respect for all parties involved. He also revealed that he had already heard about the concerns of some of their church members.