Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The Comartin Vendetta

It seems that Windsor-Tecumseh MP Joe Comartin's stance on same-sex marriage has aroused the ire of Bishop Ronald Fabbro.

Controversy surrounding Comartin began late last week when Bishop Ronald Fabbro of the Roman Catholic Diocese of London directed copies of his letter be handed out to every parish member and be read aloud during the weekly church service.

He also stripped Comartin of his duties in handling marriage preparation classes and other public church activities at Holy Rosary because of the MP's comments and support for passage of the same-sex marriage bill.

Angry in T.O. has a post defending the Bishop on this, and some of the commentary after it is worth reading, even though some of it degenerates into homophobic ranting. Speaking as a lapsed Protestant, though, I find it hard to see the Bishop's actions as anything other than a vendetta -- directing institutional power to ostracize and persecute an individual for his beliefs.

Let's get something clear here. Mr. Comartin is not a minister or a priest under official orders, he is a lay member who volunteered for the classes he was subsequently kicked out of. While the Bishop certainly had the right to strip Mr. Comartin of his duties; where he went off the rails was in going public with his denunciation -- and in a place and time where spiritual matters, not temporal ones, are supposed to be under consideration. It stinks too much of the actions of an institutional bully -- and certainly won't be attractive to potential converts.

There is a time and place for the Bishop's actions, and it's called the next federal election. Let him endorse -- or censure -- candidates as they make their positions known; let him exhort his flock to become politically active. But ostracizing is best done in private; a public one is more damaging to the ostracizer than its victim.