The Catholic Bishop of Fresno, California, has reaffirmed his support for a state constitutional amendment that would prohibit the institution of homosexual “marriage” after a priest in his diocese announced his opposition to the measure during Sunday mass.The priest, Father Geoffrey Farrow of the St. Paul Newman Center in Fresno, called the media before the mass and told them about his plans. With television cameras filming his statements, Farrow denounced the amendment, which has the support of California’s bishops.
“In directing the faithful to vote yes on Proposition 8, the California Bishops are not only entering the political arena, they are ignoring the advances and insights of neurology, psychology and the very statements by the church itself that homosexual is innate,” Fr. Farrow said.
Farrow’s comments contradict statements made by the head of the U.S. federal government’s genome project, Dr. Francis S. Collins, who points out that studies of identical twins prove that “sexual orientation is genetically influenced but not hardwired by DNA, and that whatever genes are involved represent predispositions, not predeterminations.” Identical twins, who share the same DNA, share a homosexual orientation in only 20 percent of cases, according to Collins.
Fresno’s Bishop John T. Steinbock responded to Farrow’s statements in a press release stating, “Proposition 8 is not about gay or lesbian orientation, or their legal rights. Proposition 8 is a reaffirmation of the nature of marriage. Proposition 8 reaffirms the dignity of the special covenant between one man and one woman which has been the building block of the church and of society since time immemorial.”
Bishop Steinbock also defended the Church’s right to speak out on political issues. “Some say that the Church has no place in American politics. That is absolutely untrue. The Church never involves itself in telling people to vote for a political candidate or party. But it does have the moral responsibility to speak out strongly on moral issues when these relate to propositions on our ballot,” he said.
He added, “The Church has a right and obligation to speak out on issues of faith and morals. This means speaking out on important issues affecting family life and the common good.”
In an interview before the mass at which he intended to announce his dissent, Farrow was directly asked by Fresno’s ABC affiliate if he was “gay,” to which he responded “It’s a secondary issue. But yes, I am.”
Farrow had apparently cleared out his office in anticipation of the event, and disappeared following the mass. As of Monday, Bishop Steinbeck still had not spoken to Farrow, but asked for prayers for him and all of the diocese’s priests, as well as for priestly vocations.
To contact the bishop:
Rev. Mr. Jesse Avila
Secretary: Yoni Hepinger
1550 N. Fresno Street
Fresno, CA 93703-3788