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Arizona Bishop Excommunicates Gay Priest

by Kilian Melloy
Friday May 8, 2009
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An openly gay Roman Catholic priest has been excommunicated for joining a breakaway faction of the church.

According to an article in the Arizona Republic that was posted online May 6, Chris Carpenter is the third priest to be excommunicated by Arizona Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted.

Olmsted assumed his post six years ago. He had also excommunicated Gene Young, who, like Carpenter, had served in Phoenix and who also joined the Reformed Catholic Church, a breakaway faction that disagrees with the Vatican on a number of issues, supporting priesthood for women and marriage for priests, and rejecting discriminatory treatment of GLBT church members.

The Roman Catholic church does not support extending priesthood to women, and rejects marriage for priests. The church also bars gays from seminaries and holds that gays and lesbians are "called" by God to lead lives of celibacy.

Another Catholic cleric, Msgr. Dale Fushek, had also been excommunicated by the bishop; the article said that Fushek had subsequently begun his own church.

Carpenter,the article noted, was on a leave of absence since 2006. The article also said that the former Catholic priest had reviewed films for a Catholic newspaper.

Cartpenter’s role as a film reviewer claimed top notice in an article that appeared at anti-gay religious Web site LifeSiteNews on May 7.

In the first paragraph of the article, LifeSiteNews noted that Carpenter had given a favorable notice to "Naked Boys Singing," a 2007 film version of the off-Broadway musical. The film, directed by Robert Schrock and Troy Christian, features a nude chorus of men who act out humorous sketches in a series of song and dance numbers.

Though the movie does not depict sexual situations, LifeSiteNews called it "pornographic," going on to report that Carpenter had also praised the Icelandic film "Eleven Men Out," a 2005 movie about a gay soccer team that was written and directed by Róbert I. Douglas.

The site reported that Carpenter also contributed film reviews for gay Web publication Orange County and Long Beach Blade, as well as for a blog called Movie Dearest.

Carpenter, the LifeSiteNews article noted, had been involved with a ministry in Los Angeles seeing to the needs of GLBT Catholics, which had earned him rebukes from the Bishop.

The anti-gay site also noted that in a separate Blade item, Carpenter had characterized the Catholic Church’s treatment of gays as "prejudicial, hypocritical, and cruel," and that he objected to the ban on gay seminarians.

The site addressed that ban in its article, noting that the ban was the result of the pedophile priest scandal, but neglecting to mention that most pedophiles are heterosexual. The site did reference a study that indicated that between 80% and 90% of pedophile priests had victimized boys in their teens, and quoted from text that asserted that gays and lesbians find themselves "in a situation that gravely hinders them from relating correctly to men and women."

One film the article did not mention was the 2006 documentary "Deliver Us From Evil" by Amy Berg. The documentary examined the case of former priest Oliver O’Grady, who admitted to having abused children of varying ages and of both genders at his numerous parish assignments.

O’Grady also admitted to having had an affair with a woman in order to gain access to her son.

The film indicated that O’Grady’s church superiors knew about the abuse and moved him from place to place to cover up his activities.

The film also documented how victims of pedophile priests who agitated for the Vatican to take responsibility for the shuffling about of O’Grady and offenders like him were branded "enemies of the church," and suggested that the mono-gender culture of seminaries, where young men are deprived of sexual outlets, arrests the psycho-sexual development of those who later prove to be pedophiles.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor, writing about film, theater, food and drink, and travel, as well as contributing a column. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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