Father Tony

Father Geoffrey Farrow, my hat is off to you.

Filed By Father Tony | October 08, 2008 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: Catholic church, gay marriage, Geoffrey Farrow, marriage, marriage equality, same-sex marriage

I just got off the phone with Father Geoffrey Farrow. A blogger friend of his who reads Bilerico and my blog suggested I contact him and was kind enough to facilitate our introduction.

If the word gracious can be understood to mean filled with grace in the spiritual sense, I'd like to apply it to Father Geoff who has surely fired a graceful shot to be heard round the world. He seems like a gentle man. A man of integrity who demonstrates once again that the greatest thing a man can do in this world is simply to be true to himself and to care about the people entrusted to him.

Trained in different seminaries and assigned to pastoral ministry in different parts of the country, our paths seem not to have crossed, but there is not a word of his magnificent story that felt foreign to me.

Having refused to bind himself to a directive from his bishop regarding Prop 8, and having delivered himself of a fine sermon about the nonsensical and un-Christian stance of the Roman Catholic Church regarding gay men and women and gay marriage, Father Geoff will return to his parish this weekend as usual and until he hears otherwise, will continue to serve his parishioners as usual. He has not been suspended.

Not yet. And this was a large portion of our conversation. Father Geoff has put the bishop of Fresno in a spectacularly awkward position. If he ignores what Father Geoff has said from the pulpit, he will catch hell from Rome. If he suspends Father Geoff or in any way reduces his faculties, he will be rightly demonized for silencing an honest and sincere priest who puts the message of Jesus Christ above the hidebound laws of the church, and he will find himself in the center of a defining war that has been percolating for far too long.

Father Geoff is unsure of his future, but he says that for the first time in years he feels at peace with himself while fearful about his ability to deal with the strife and tumult that is about to come his way. He said, "I feel like the little boy in the crowd who says the emperor is naked."

We talked about the fact that most priests are gay, and about the power structure that keeps them silent when in their hearts they know they should be working to overturn the ridiculous mistreatment of gay people by the Catholic Church. He said that at a gathering of priests that followed the news about his sermon, the bishop was assured by many of the priests that Father Farrow was wrong and should be punished. This is disgusting and yet so very believable.

I wish I could shout out to all the thousands of gay priests out there. This is your chance, guys. Father Geoff took the first shot. He made the bold jump. Are you going to let him stand there alone and vulnerable? Are you going to turn your back on him? Or will you stand up and be counted? Will you use your pulpits to support what he has begun?

The bishop can get away with suspending one man, but he cannot suspend all of you.

Do the right thing. This is why you were ordained.

Meanwhile, friends of Father Geoff are helping him set up a blog to facilitate those who want to help safeguard gay rights in California. If ever one humble man needed the support and good wishes of all of us, it is Father Geoff. I've got a good feeling about this guy, and I think he is exactly the sort of man that the Catholic Church needs right now.

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If the other priests step up as did Father Geoff, this could be the beginning of making the Church relevant and welcoming, as it should have been all along. God bless Father Geoff for his courage and you, Father Tony, for the call to arms. I am filled with hope that this is a catalyst for change.

G-d bless Father Geoff and all the other clergypersons who stand up for equality.


I loved that news clip when I saw it yesterday. He just did what he knew that he had to do. I'm very proud of him.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | October 9, 2008 4:01 AM

It is no accident the churches are empty, except probably Fr. Geoff's.

It is also not surprising the Anglican church is in schism over the prospect of equality for Gays and Women.

Raised Catholic as we were Fr. Tony (knowing the medieval fiefdom a local bishopric is) I doubt sincerely that the local priests will stand in opposition and face the entirety of their own individual hypocrisy and cowardice. Had they the integrity you have they would have left by now, but they do not and we both know priests who bucked the bishop before and what happened to them.

As long as Rome insists the size of the church in North America does not matter (yeah, we know they are lying, they want the money) they will allow things to continue to slip away because they cannot accept the consequences of the light of day being shown upon them.

I wish Fr. Geoff every good thing and I sincerely hope he is scooped up by an accepting version of Christianity to allow him to use his gifts fully.

Everything you say is true, Robert, but becoming part of a different "version of Christianity" will always give him the feeling that he is missing something. It would be like marrying a wonderful person but knowing that your true love is still out there and always wishing that there'd be a change of heart that would let you return.

Anyway, I am furious about the gay clergy turning their backs on him. If ever there is a group of guys that should be outed for their own good and for the good of their flock...

Rick Elliott | October 9, 2008 9:56 AM

I am an ordained Presbyterian minister who is gay. During one of the interminable debates over gays in church office I outed myself as a part of the debate. It was scary to face upwards of a thousand folks and say what I said, but I did it for myself and hoped it would "put a face" to the issue instead of dealing with the issue in the abstract.
Here is the issue in a nutshell--look to see whether that person has gifts from God in ministry as the primary issue. If that person--gay or straight--demonstrates these gifts, then that person should be in church office. HOWEVER, if church office is denied to someone with demonstrable gifts of the Spirit who is homosexual, then it is saying that God made a mistake in giving that person those gifts of the Spirit.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | October 10, 2008 12:47 AM

Rick, I love your sensible line of reasoning unencumbered, as Catholics are, by papal infallibility. Even children's books are more sensible than church doctrine: "God made me and he does not make junk."

Wow,i'm so glad that Father Geoff has all this support. Father Geoff has always been such an awesome priest and friend to me and my family. He has been there for me when i've needed his guidance and has always offered to be there for me if i needed him again. I'm extremely proud of the choice he made to express his belief in who he is. God loves us ALL and that's exactly what he's trying to say. Love You Father Geoff and my thoughts and prayers are with you always! We miss you here in Visalia. Sincerely, Veronica

Thanks you for your update on Father Farrow's status. However, I would take umbrage with your phrase MOST PRIESTS are GAY..eg you mean the majority of CURRENT American Catholic Priests or whom. Certainly some are, some aren't. For each who is, may they see their way to be as brave as Father Farrow.
My husband was in a Franciscan seminary for 6+ years. Of his High School seminary class NONE became a Franciscan Priest, two finally did get ordained in other orders. One who got married, got divorced and then came out. ..and there was one who all had known was gay. None of his class knew of or were accosted by any of their teachers. So in essence about 10%, just as in the lay population, but we are speaking of men from the 60's.
Considering the paucity of ones who are OUT, there certainly are qutie a number in the closet.

Dear L'Orion,
Right. Some are. Some aren't.

Most are.

Math was never my strong suit, but I don't know how you get to 10%. I went to the largest high school seminary in the eastern US. Out of my high school seminary class, three were ordained. 100% gay. You may be looking at the % of seminarians who actually get ordained, but that is not the same stat. I was in the seminary for twelve years. I'm here to tell you that most of the straight guys left it long before ordination.

Until Catholics accept the fact that their priest is probably gay, things won't change.