Pro-Marriage Equality Argentinian Priest Defrocked
A Catholic priest from Argentina was defrocked on Friday for endorsing the measure that legalized same-sex marriage in the South American country in 2010, the Global Post reports.
Father Joe Nicolas Alessio, who served in the central province of Cordoba and was first suspended in 2010, said, "More than 30 years serving God’s people has meant nothing for the Catholic Church. All it took to get thrown out was having an opinion different from that of the archbishop."
To be defrocked in the Roman Catholic Church means that the Alessio has been relieved of any and all offices, roles and obligations, including his vow of obedience (except his vow of chastity and hearing the confession of a dying penitent). Alession cannot be reinstated without consent from the pope.
Argentina is home to the newly enthroned Pope Francis, who strongly opposed the marriage equality bill when he was known as Jorge Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aries. Argentina has been one of the most advanced countries in South America when it comes to gay rights. In July 2010, the country’s government legalized gay marriage, which made Argentina the first country in Latin America and the tenth in the world to do so.
According to a 2011 article by ultra-conservative website Life Site News, Alessio, who is gay himself, publicly approved Argentina’s gay marriage bill but was suspended over his support. Soon after the Archdiocese of Cordoba suspended him, the priest refused to comply with the punishment and that only physical force could prevent him from carrying out his duties at his parish.
"I obey my community first, before him [Archbishop Carlos Ñáñez], and his canons and decrees and sanctions," he said. The church, however, stood by its decision and released a statement confirming that:
"The Archbishop of Córdoba, Mons. Carlos José Náñez, clearly states that, after having exhausted all means of pastoral requests for Fr. José Nicolás Alessio to mend his ways and publicly retract the statements made by him in support of alleged ’marriage’ between persons of the same sex, which is contrary to the teaching and the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, and given that the above-mentioned priest has denied any possibility of changing his actions, it has been decided to initiate a church trial in the Interdiocesan Tribunal of Cordoba so that all acts are in accordance with the church law in force, and establishing an interim measure that formally ’forbids him to public exercise priestly ministry,’" the statement reads, according to blog True Catholic.
Life Site News pointed to a YouTube video in which Alessio gave a speech at a gay rights rally. "First, I want to ask forgiveness because I belong to an institution that is still converting to the gospel of Jesus, a Jesus who never condemned homosexuality, who never condemned homosexual marriage, and, to the contrary, this same Jesus condemned the proud, the powerful, and those who discriminate," he said.
A similar incident occurred in Caifornia in 1999 when many urged the Dioceses of Oakland to defrock Father Dan Danielson after he allowed the blessing of gay marriages, the Los Angeles Times reported. Danielson, however, retired in 2007, the Catholic News Agency notes. Danielson retired before any could be taken, however.
Watch Alessio’s incriminating speech below: