NEWARK, N.J. (Christian Examiner) – The archbishop of the Newark diocese has suspended an openly homosexual priest and advocate for full LGBT inclusion in the church – including access to the rite of marriage.
LifesiteNews reported that the priest, Father Warren Hall, was suspended by Archbishop John Myers Wednesday after the priest issued a statement in support of former Catholic school guidance counselor Kate Drumgoole, dismissed from her duties because of her marriage to another woman. Drumgoole is suing Paramus Catholic High School, claiming it violated her civil rights.
Hall's support for Drumgoole is only the latest in a long list of pro-gay statements the priest has made. Hall was formerly a campus minister at Seton Hall University, but was reassigned by Myers and made a local vicar after he announced he was gay. He also continued to advocate for gay rights, posting images on social media favorable to LGBT causes and claiming that he hoped Pope Francis "lives long enough to replace every bishop who doesn't agree with him!!!"
Francis has made several statements suggesting the church may soften its stance on homosexuality, but the theologians of the church have repeatedly walked those statements back. They claimed the pope had been misunderstood and the church's doctrines on marriage, family and human sexuality would not change.
The suspension from the ministry means Hall may no longer call himself a priest or offer the Mass, according to the news service.
Hall announced his suspension via his Twitter account, blaming the dismissal on "my differences with the bishop." He then said the "Pontifex's reform" in the church – presumably an indication that he believes Pope wants to allow same-sex marriage – was taking too long.
The archbishop, Hall said, "doesn't believe you can be gay and Catholic." Myers, however, is standing firmly on Scripture and the teaching of the Catholic Church with respect its doctrines on human sexuality and marriage.
The archdiocese's Communications Director James Goodness told LifesiteNews that the archbishop would not discuss Hall's suspension because it was an internal personnel matter.
However, a news release from the previous week about the case with Drumgoole foreshadowed Hall's dismissal. While speaking of Drumgoole's firing, Archbishop Myers said the church has the right to define its identity and ensure that those who teach its members – especially young people – offer an authentic witness to Catholic teaching. When that doesn't happen, he wrote, the church is "free to take corrective steps to maintain the identity and integrity of her mission." Myers said that right is protected by the U.S. Constitution.
He also wrote that "many have equated, mistakenly, the Church's position of welcoming sinners (for we are all sinners) with the notion that we accept teaching and lifestyles contrary to the principles of our faith that can create scandal in our Church."
"Much has been said in recent days about respect, diversity, and mercy," Myers wrote. "For decades I have taught and written that the Church welcomes everyone and invites everyone to participate in the life of the Church to the degree that they honestly can, while sincerely respecting the teachings of the Church. The invitation to join the life of the Church does not include an invitation to alter or redefine what the Church believes and teaches, nor is it an invitation to allow others to define the identity, mission and message of the Church."