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Social media on fire following local church bulletin’s ‘Pride’ warning

Friday morning teachers and community members were outside the school holding banners stating ‘This is a safe space’.

(UPDATED at story end) A local church bulletin telling Catholics and Christians that Pride events are contrary to faith and could be harmful to children has set social media in Prince Edward County on fire and roused the community to show love and solidarity for the LGBTQ community before mass this Sunday at St. Gregory’s Catholic School in Picton.

Postings on social media Thursday shared the “reminder” in the church bulletin from St. Gregory Catholic Church’s website which said:

“A reminder that Catholics and all other Christians should not attend LGBTQ2 ‘Pride Month’ events held this month. They promote a culture and encourage activities that are contrary to the Christian faith and morals. This is especially harmful to children because it could lead them away from God’s revealed Truth. Even in “The County,” there are Pride flags and banners flying courtesy of the Government. Think…these are your hard tax dollars at work!”

The bulletin has since been removed from the church’s website.

That evening, a rainbow umbrella and whirligigs appeared on the church’s front lawn.

Friday morning, several parents sent notes to teachers stated they refused to allow their children to attend today’s year-end monthly mass led by priest Robert J. Chisholm. This morning, teachers and community members were outside the school holding banners stating ‘This is a safe space’. Several also spoke out on social media. Teacher Daniela Lisa stated “St. Greg’s is a wonderful school and believes in inclusion. This did not come from the school.”

Parent Lyndsay Richmond didn’t want her children attending mass Friday.

“I know a lot of parents that told the school their kids would not be attending mass today. I’m surprised it was cancelled or postponed.”

Richmond said the “hateful behaviour” shown in the bulletin message “has no place in any church or school system. It’s not okay.”

“My kids went to school to support the teachers. But the principal and my own children’s teachers were told that my children did not have permission to go to mass nor did I want them in the presence of the priest. And if it could not be accommodated to contact me.”

The community is now using social media to share messages of inclusion, support and love.

A ‘Pride in St. Greg’s’ event has been organized for Sunday at 9:30 a.m. where the public is invited to show solidarity for the County’s LGBTQ community outside of the church “in a peaceful and non-confrontational demonstration of respect that every member of our community is entitled to, regardless of their identity.”

Shannon Hunter noted there is a new LGBTQ+ youth group looking for donations which can be received at the Prince Edward Learning Centre (PELC) in the Sobeys plaza.

“If you can’t make it to church this Sunday, consider showing your support in other ways,” she said.

St Mary Magdalene Anglican Church in Picton posted a message today to its followers confirming “it strives to be open, welcoming, and inclusive, in particular supporting the full inclusion of gay and lesbian people in the life of the Church. We seek justice for victims of prejudice and strive to nurture relationships of respect, love, and mutual care.”

Kevin Stenhouse, a pastor at a Free Methodist Church in Picton, told his social media followers to “Get out of the 4 walls of your church and be in your community. Attend these events and show the world the love of Christ. Let’s show everyone in the County that love is far greater than hate and all Christians (and all churches) should not be painted with the same brush.”

To LGBTQ+ friends and family, he apologized.

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry that, once again, you are being marginalized and demonized and treated poorly. I’m sorry for the damage the church and Christians (both well-meaning and ignorant buffoons) have inflicted on you. God loves you and you are VERY welcome in MOST churches in the County.”

Mayor Steve Ferguson has stated he was disappointed to read the critical remarks.

“In Prince Edward County, we aspire to foster an inclusive and diverse community. I applaud the Picton BIA’s work to expand Pride Week activities in the County this year. I also support Picton BIA installing pride banners along Picton Main Street in order to make the community more visibly inclusive to all visitors as well as the growing LGBTQ2S+ community.”

He declared May 31 – June 8 Pride Week to ” recognize the valuable contributions the LGBTQ2S+ community make to Prince Edward County. Just as important, Pride Week gives all of us an opportunity to recognize the human rights and dignity of all persons in our community.”

Artist Marc Keelan Bishop created a Pride in PEC banner now being shared throughout Facebook.

Artist Marc Keelan Bishop created a Pride in PEC banner now being shared throughout Facebook.

Lesley Snyder of Rosehaven Yarn Shop in Picton posted a rainbow garment with the message inviting others to join her family on the lawn of the church Sunday morning wearing and carrying Pride symbols.

Gilles Charette also plans to be there for a “peaceful, quiet vigil” sporting pride colours.

“Let’s show love is better than hate, hope is better than fear and inclusion is better than exclusion.”

At about 6 p.m. Friday, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kingston posted a statement on its Facebook page regarding the bulletin’s announcement.

Michael Mulhall, Archbishop of Kingston, stated he did not sanction the message and “it does not reflect the spirit of accompanying charity and compassion that should always characterize our faith.

“The Archdiocese has spoken with the pastor of the parish. He regrets any hurt that his inappropriate comments have caused.”

Earlier today, Father Chisholm told Sun Media  “We’re just promoting Catholic teaching, that’s all.”

He told Global News Kingston he wrote the Pride message “Because as a shepherd, it’s my duty to keep my flock safe.”

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  1. Dennis Fox says:

    I won’t get into a theological debate, but for those who believe that Father Chisholm was following the current belief of the Church, here is what Pope Francis said about gay people as copied from Wikipedia…

    As pope, Francis has repeatedly spoken about the need for the church to welcome and love all people, regardless of their sexual orientation. Speaking about gay people in 2013, he said that “the key is for the church to welcome, not exclude and show mercy, not condemnation.”[1] In July of that year, he said “If someone is gay and is searching for the Lord and has good will, then who am I to judge him? The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this in a beautiful way, saying…: ‘no one should marginalize these people for this, they must be integrated into society.'”[15][2][3]

  2. Marc says:

    Yes, Mr Chisholm’s words were dangerous and hateful. Catholic kids don’t have a choice but to go to church, and this type of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric has led to many suicides among young people. I’m proud that the community rose up to make sure catholic kids know he’s wrong and that the community is a safe place for them. Many people expressed that they wished their community had been so supportive when they were growing up gay.

  3. Michelle says:

    Father Chisholm is following faith and providing sound guidance. He should be heralded for speaking out, not deamonized.Why don’t we celebrate Gods word for a week with flags from one end of Picton to the other?

  4. Dennis Fox says:

    I don’t support Father Chisholm’s point of view and nor does he speak for all Christians – certainly not for me. I clearly side with the LGBTQ2 community and their right to exist without political ridicule nor religious harassment. His comments reflect and resonate more with those made by Adolf Hitler – with the same hatred and divisive tactics. I am very proud of our community for not tolerating such inhumane comments and for defying a religious leaders point of view. Chisholm needs to learn what Pope Frances has to say on this topic – which are much different than what his church bulletin stated!

    The issues that Father Chisholm highlights – those of child abuse by the gay community, and the misuse of tax dollars being spent on rainbow banners and signs are truly laughable.

    Perhaps now is a good time to remind Father Chisholm that I very much oppose the funding of any religious based school system and would like my tax dollars to be spent on one PUBLIC school system that would accommodate all children, regardless of their religion. Father Chisholm’s fear of children being abused by the gay community is truly a joke, He needs to look within his own kind before casting the first stone. Has he spoken out about that yet?

    I thank the teachers and parents of “St. Gregory The Great” for setting a truly Christian example of love and tolerance. But what is wrong with their priest?

  5. robert sandfield says:

    And another damaging article to the Christian churches of the land… Righteous judgement is no part of the church. All the respect in the world for Chisholms freedoms, and some might even suggest it is his freedom to write that in his bulletin. But, was that really necessary? Imagine how horrible the community would be if everyone freely wrote nasty things on public domains. And all the while promoting God’s love, c’mon, who would Jesus hate…. gays? a race? a creed? a denomination of a church? a nationality? Fr. Chisholm has done all churches a massive disservice. Teach your flock to love all, pray silently.

    “The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed. ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people-robbers, evildoers, adulterers-or even like this tax collector'” .

    Maybe Fr. Chisholm is making himself feel better by being pious.

  6. Taylor King says:

    Fr. Robert Chisholm of St. Gregory WE SUPPORT YOU! Thank you for standing up for righteousness sake! Your reward in heaven will be great!

  7. Tom says:

    I fail to see why the priest’s comments are “hateful” to LGBTQ2’s. He did not say anything “hateful” about them, only that Christians & Catholics in particular should NOT attend pride events – that’s it! That shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone who has known the beliefs of the Catholic Church for the past 2000+ years. This is not new / news. If you are a TRUE Catholic, it’s what you (should) believe – you either accept the teachings of the Church, in which case you call yourself a (practicing) Catholic, or you do not, in which case you are free to attend any other church / institution that does support gay lifestyles.
    The Catholic Church loves / embraces gays as individual people & welcomes them into the Church – it’s their lifestyle that the Church is opposed to – love the sinner / hate the sin! The Catholic Church also teaches that sexual relations should be between a man & a woman in a committed marriage for life – with the intention of having children (procreation). Homosexual unions do not foster that – there is nothing “hateful” in stating the TRUTH – it’s common sense, which most of society is lacking nowadays.
    You should not be brainwashed / coerced by secular society into believing what everyone else does is ok because it’s “popular”, you believe it because it’s the TRUTH, a teaching from Christ & his apostles. We have a tradition that’s been passed down to us for two millennia & have the right to uphold those beliefs – Freedom of thought, belief & religion extends to Catholics too.
    The priest’s job is to remind his parishioners what the beliefs of the Church are – because, let’s face it, in today’s society Catholics / Christians are so confused as to the teachings of the Church – from this Pope on down – there’s a lot of ambiguity where there shouldn’t be! The Catholic Church loves all members of the LGBTQ2 community as individuals, as God does, because He created them, but He wants us to CHANGE our sinful ways – whether gay or straight – the message is for EVERYONE – there’s NO DISCRIMINATION towards ANYONE on this!
    I believe the priest’s comments have been blown out of proportion & everyone’s jumping on the band wagon to bash him – he has NOT bashed anyone. He simply stated what every shepherd of the Church should be reminding their flock – the Catholic Church has rules – if you are Catholic you should follow the rules: ”In case you are confused by what’s right and what’s wrong, I’m telling you.” You have been warned & are now free to do what you wish, but if you don’t follow the Church’s teachings it will have consequences for your soul & the priest’s job is to save souls – some care to do that job, others care less. Just like there are good teachers who care, and those who DO NOT. We are all equal in the eyes of GOD, our creator, but we are not all equal in the sense that we don’t all do our jobs equally or well. This priest is not shying away from his duties or is afraid of being counter cultural / going against the mainstream – he’s doing his job & doing it well in my view & I respect him for that. Many souls are at stake as a result of staying silent for fear of backlash like this. We should not ne giving in to the powerful / political gay lobby – they are the BULLY here!

  8. Fred says:

    By the way, there was nothing hurtful about what the priest wrote – just a warning for TRUE Catholics to not expose themselves & their children to these Pride events because they are hurtful to children to see/ witness crazy behaviour & you should know what I mean by that – flaunting sexual perversions in public – it’s a disgrace! The Church walks with people struggling with same sex attraction. They are welcome in the Catholic Church, but must amend their lives accordingly, just as we all, as sinners in the Church, are called to (that’s why we have a sacrament of PENANCE to confess our sins – which sadly, few Catholics take advantage of). Remember, the Bible story of the woman whom Jesus stopped from stoning amended her life – she followed Jesus – she DID NOT continue her sinful ways but repented for them. She was not PROUD (is the the TRUE meaning of GAY PRIDE!!) or arrogant in justifying her behaviour / sins & be selfish & continue to live the lifestyle she had in the past because she acknowledged thru Jesus’ teachings / revelation that it was WRONG. She showed HUMILITY!!

  9. Fred says:

    This has completely been blown out of proportion!! You people are making this out to be something it is NOT! It’s just propaganda against the Church! Firstly, the priest did NOT do or say anything wrong against gays, etc. He is only giving a friendly reminder to TRUE & FAITHFUL CATHOLICS & CHRISTIANS. If you are NOT a TRUE & FAITHFUL CATHOLOIC / CHRISTIAN, then this DOES NOT APPLY TO YOU. You are free to do as you wish, but that doesn’t make it right! AS Catholics we are called to follow the teachings of the Church. The priest’s job is to remind parishioners about the teachings of the Church, because not everyone who claims to be a Catholic does – they just do as they please & made God / Jesus in THEIR own image, not His true image as depicted in the Bible & a per the traditions of the Church which have been passed down for 2000+ years. This is a free country, you have a right to express your opinion (as incorrect as they may be) & the Church has a right to express its views too (freedom of thought, belief, religion is entrenched in The Charter of Rights). The priest is not gay bashing here, but he LGBTQ community is certainly bashing this poor priest who is only doing his job for the salvation of souls in his parish. If you are too proud or arrogant to believe / understand what he meant, then there are other “churches” you can go to – by all means go there, you are free to leave the Church if you do not believe in its fundamental teachings. But this Church stands firm in its beliefs & is not wishy washy, despite the obvious non-support by some in the Catholic hierarchy who has thrown one of their own under the bus & not come to his defense – that’s appalling in & of itself. The Church should / will not cower to the powerful gay lobby which has become a political force in this world & is shaming people into having religious convictions. Believe what you want, do what you want, but after this life you will have to meet your maker & account for your deeds in this life on this earth whether you acknowledge God or not – He doesn’t force you to believe in Him – you are free to do as you please & ignore Him – but He is real, He is true, He does exist & is waiting for you to return to Him (that’s what convert means). Find peace & TRUE LOVE in the REAL GOD / JESUS CHRIST – not the fictional one you have made Him out to be!!!

  10. Donna says:

    So love thy neighbour as long as they are straight married and have 3 children?

  11. Kevin says:

    Maybe it’s time we started to celebrate all the other unique and diverse communities this county has to offer. Why stop now ? It’s only fair.

  12. John says:

    So proud to be a part of a Community that does not support such bigotry and homophobia..
    We are a gay couple- My partner and I have lived here in PEC for over 5 years – we are parents ,grandparents and great grandparents. Our families love us for who we are ..
    The political response from the hierarchy of the Catholic Church was shallow and showed no accountability ( like always)
    Todays turn out is a fine example of true
    community leadership . Thank you so much for ensuring that our voices were heard – just brilliant , thank you, thank you!

    And as the Hierarchy of the Catholic Church goes into damage control they still have a long way to go !

  13. Angela says:

    Difficult to believe that in this day and age a priest is spewing hate like this. How many times have we read of young boys molested by pedophiles in the priesthood? I wonder what this priest has to say on that subject. I have several gay friends, all of them good, caring people. My life has been better for knowing them. They have not corrupted me or changed my sexual orientation. What man of God attempts to turn Gay Pride into Gay Hatred?

  14. Brian Naylor says:

    “We can disagree and still love each other, unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist.” – James Baldwin

  15. LB says:

    I am 100% heterosexual (male) and100% in support of of the gay community. I think the real reason we have Pride events is to promote the notion of tolerance and acceptance of other people. Mostly so those “other people” are not beaten up or killed or dismissed as sub or broken human beings. Love. Peace. Goodwill towards all women and men. All part of the church’s standard ciriculum. In respect to homosexuality, please update your scriptures accordingly.

  16. Proud says:

    What a joke! There are open cases of sexual abuse in every province of Canada with millions of dollars in lawsuits: “Think…….. these are your tax dollars at work!” The Catholic Church is funded by your government tax dollars!

  17. Esme E says:

    As a result of this horrid situation, the outpouring of support for the LGBTQ+ Community is amazing.🏳️‍🌈. Support love not hate.

  18. Ian says:

    Sylvia, I have been in a committed, loving, monogamous relationship with my partner for nearly 30 years. We have built a life and successful business together, we are the God parents to three of our friend’s children. Whilst there is good and bad in every community of people I have to say that I have witnessed more selfless acts, kindness of spirit, generosity, courage and the ability to accept and forgive from the LGBTQ community than I ever have from those that claim to be ‘christian’ yet spend an inordinate amount of their time denouncing others. So if you want to pray, pray for yourself. Fast away to your hearts content….but frankly you don’t have a clue what you are talking about and I feel sorry for you and your misguided bitter soul.

  19. Terri Mathews says:

    His message promotes hate. He has turned me away from my catholic religion. I renounce my faith right here and now. I will follow the church whose founder spoke at Jack Laytons funeral. I hope god forgives Mr Chisholm, ( the devil cannot be called a priest, he who promotes hate is the devil.) The Catholic leadership should kick this evil man out of your church. Just like the sexual predators and the native schools the catholic church will not take ownership for the hurt and harm you have caused in this world. Mr Chisolm may god forgive you the harm you have caused, the pain you have caused me all weekend.

  20. John Houston says:

    This is such a sad story, but the exact reflection of what is going on in many religions around the world, thinking that homosexuality, or in the broader sense, LGBTQ community that this is wrong. People of faith following ancient old writing, instead of understanding the world around them. Recognizing people as people, be it straight or gay, or whatever is the most important thing to make this world a better place. The saddest part of this is that it comes from a man, a man who is part of an organization that does not recognize that many of its members have abused children, and parishioners. A group that have many many members who are gay, but they fail to recognize them. Why can they not recognize the ways of the real world like in the United Church who have ordained first women, then gay ministers. And in the USA where a Method Minister started an organization of “Free Mom Hugs” who realized that it was more important to support her gay son, without giving up on her religion, and now she and thousands of mother world wide are ready to step up and support gays getting married when their own family have shunned them. So all that I can say is, who is this single man, locked up in singular society casting their supposed wisdom on the world, a view that is so out of date, out of touch. If I was to meet him I would have ask him ” when you look at artist renditions of the last supper, does it ever make you wander, how many of those men who were always together, just might be gay, have you ever thought about that ?” Hmmmm something for all of us to think about. I am so glad that the Archbishop quickly jumped on this to rectify the problem, but really Father Chisolm should just resign. There is a bigger world out there, it is just so sad that men like these cannot see it. This whole story does not only hurt priest and the Catholic church, in many ways it hurt real men.

  21. Michelle says:

    Are “gays” welcome at this church?

  22. Going to gay pride is not true love! Praying and fasting for people who act on their homosexual temptations. This priest is one of the good Catholic priests teaching people correctly that they should avoid what is evil in this case “promiscous behaviour”.

  23. Kevin says:

    Might I add that Fr.Chisolm’s opinion does not reflect on the parish as a whole. Remember that the church and it’s grounds are sacred for many, so please refrain from being inappropriate.

  24. Kevin says:

    It’s taken a long, long time, but we all now have become (with the exception of a few) accepting and respectful of others based on race, color, religion, sexual orientation, etc. Maybe the next step is to start accepting and respecting people for WHO they are, without distinction.
    I’m Catholic and do not agree with Fr.Chisolm, however, I do respect my church. It’s a place for prayer, worship and reflection. Please don’t dishonor the church lawn with propaganda. The chapel is not the problem.

  25. Paul Cole says:

    The bible is interpreted many different ways as is evident by the many different faiths each having their own beliefs based on stories from the bible. Religion has no place in a publicly funded school system.

  26. This story exposed the real, hidden, colonial white supremacist thinking that still dominates and hurts this County.
    The time to expose and heal the old colonial darkness is here.

  27. Doug says:

    I remain shocked at this incident. To suggest that 10% or the population be hidden from children because they are morally corrupt is absurd. The follow on quotes from the Father who wrote this would suggest that his views aren’t these least bit altered by is even more troubling. The congregation now need to do the right thing and have him step down.

    To those who feel similarly to the priest I would strongly suggest you get some gay friends. I have been married for 40 years. Some of my friends who are gay couples have been together for longer than that. Some are great, some are weird ; in other words they are just people.

    To justify hatred or fear as doing your job, hiding behind the bible or standing up to political correctness is absurd, sad and DIMINISHES US ALL.

  28. Maureen says:

    My 3 children attended St Gregory’s school from JK and graduated grade 8 and I am a happily married LESBIAN women. None of us have been stricken with lightning as our Grandchildren keep us in church today. People first ❣❣

  29. Susan says:

    This story now going nation wide.

  30. Rob #2 says:

    I read this story and the comments and come away wondering yet again why we still have a separate school system in 2019…?

  31. Michelle says:

    Scripture is really clear on sin.

  32. Marc says:

    Scott: While adults are welcome to believe what they want, we’ll be showing up on Sunday to let the young people of the Church know that they’re not alone or abandoned or unwanted or full of sin. No one has stopped the local priest from saying what he likes, but nothing will stop us from responding.

  33. Fred says:

    The Church is correct in following the Bible. The scripture is pretty clear.

  34. Scott says:

    Seriously? Hatred? Because he teaches what the scriptures say instead of caving to political pressure?

    That’s not hatred, that’s his job. Tell you what, don’t go to church if what it teaches offends you, you wouldn’t have the strength to live a committed relationship anyway, so, spare your indignance/indifference, it shows how easily you’re bent in a strong wind. There is no law, human or heavenly, that says we must “tolerate” or “accept” what is against our morals, just like we can’t make you embrace any. It’s out of love that the church warns people of their fallen state; of course, it’s irrelevant to one who doesn’t search.

  35. Christopher Pryde says:

    Background on the original tweet and ensuing controversy (as well as a thoughtful response)

  36. Theresa Durning says:

    Sue, thank you so much for this message of inclusive love for people in our community. Many, many people are shocked and amazed by the words of “hatred” which were printed in St. Gregory’s Parish Bullletin. It’s difficult to believe someone would take a community vehicle, like a parish bulletin, to encourage exclusion and deny love.

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