A married gay couple has been denied
communion and told they can no longer participate in church ministry
unless they separate and divorce.
According to The
Billings Gazette, Paul Huff and Tom Wojtowick, together more
than 30 years and lifelong Catholics, married in Seattle last year.
Rev. Samuel Spiering was in his post as
administrator of St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Lewistown,
Montana four days before he met with Huff and Wojtowick to ask them
if they had married. The following day, he told them they could no
longer receive Communion and dismissed them from their volunteer
posts in the church.
Huff, 73, and Wojtowick, 66, started
attending St. Leo's in 2003.
Two weeks later, the men agreed to
write a restoration statement supporting the church's definition of
marriage as between a man and a woman.
The men said that what mattered to them
were the civic protections of marriage, not challenging the church.
Wojtowick said that when he met with
Spiering to write the statement, they were also asked to agree to a
divorce, which the men did not agree to.
The incident has led some people to
leave the parish. Bishop Michael Warfel of the Diocese of Great
Falls-Billings is expected to discuss the situation with parishioners
on Saturday night.
“This is not animus against someone
who happens to be a homosexual; this issue is the same-sex marriage,”
Warfel told the paper. “A lot of people put those two together,
and obviously there's a connection, but it's not the same thing.”