Star of the Sea Roman Catholic Parish has issued a statement after the church denied a request from the White Rock Pride Society earlier this month to host an event in the church’s community centre.
The statement issued by the parish pastor, Father Glenn Dion, says that while the church has received public feedback both in support of, and opposition to its stance, it will not budge on its decision to deny the Pride Society’s request.
One of the concerns raised by White Rock Pride Society president Ernie Klassen is that the hall is named the “Star of the Sea Community Centre.”
“If you want to call yourself a community centre, and get the property tax relief from the city, then I’m now, as a White Rock citizen, subsidizing their taxes and I’m not allowed to use their facility,” Klassen told Peace Arch News last week.
The approximate value of the property tax exemption is $11,800.
The statement, issued last week, makes note of the name of the community centre.
“It is somehow being perceived as a public facility rather than a privately owned one, which is a misunderstanding,” the statement reads. “We will adjust the sign for greater clarity. We do allow others to use our hall as long as they are not in conflict with the mission and values of the Parish.”
The statement notes that the contract used for any prospective renters states that the renter “acknowledges that the Premises may in no event be used for any purpose which is unlawful or contrary to the practices, or teaching on matters of faith and morals, of the Roman Catholic Church as interpreted by the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Vancouver.”
The statement says that the White Rock Pride Society would “clearly fall within the context of those who promote, practice, and celebrate the intimacy of same sex individuals, the practice of same sex marriage, and the homosexual lifestyle of these proponents.”
“This is in stark contrast to the teaching of the Catholic Church that upholds the sanctity of the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, and the call to live a chaste life for all people, regardless of sexual orientation, outside the sacred bond of marriage.”
The statement says that all people, “no matter their chosen walk of life,” are children of God.
“The Catholic Church teaches that we hold all people in this loving regard, with an inherent right to respect and dignity, even those who live far outside her teaching.”
Regardless of the love Christ has for all, the statement reads, “it doesn’t mean that we need to cooperate in the activities of groups that are diametrically opposed to the Church’s teachings on faith and morals.”
The statement notes that some have taken the position that the use of the Star of the Sea Community Centre should be without restriction, even if the event stands in contrast to the Catholic beliefs and values.
“That would suggest that we couldn’t decline to let our hall be used by groups such as those espousing hatred against a minority or ethnic group, or those wanting to raise funds for the sake of promoting abortion or euthanasia and assisted dying. Our Catholic facilities would not be open for such groups to use.”
The statement says that the parish has a mission to follow Jesus Christ, and all are invited to do the same.
Klassen said Tuesday that since PAN published an article regarding the church’s decision to deny the event, he has had an “overwhelming” number of people from Star of the Sea church offer their support to the White Rock Pride Society.
“They’re saying, please don’t give up on this,” Klassen said. “It makes me feel like the members of the local church community are not in sync with the policies of the church. It felt absolutely wonderful.”
Klassen said those who reached out to him were, for the most part, older women and grandmothers.
“They’re coming and saying, ‘My grandson is gay and I really want him to feel like he can be part of the church if he chooses to.’”
Klassen said the number of businesses, individuals, and friends that have reached out to the society to show support has been “fantastic.”