A Roman Catholic bishop says half of a
Montana parish agrees with a new priest's decision to refuse
communion to a married gay couple.
Paul Huff, 73, and Tom Wojtowick, 66,
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 choir. Wojtowick is also an organist.
The men agreed to write a restoration
statement in support of the church's definition of marriage as
between a man and a woman but refused the demand of separating and
divorcing in order to remain active in the church.
Bishop Michael Warfel of the Diocese of
Great Falls-Billings met with roughly 300 parishioners on Saturday to
discuss the issue, the Great
Falls Tribune reported.
Warfel said that parishioners were even
“The comments from the parishioners
were probably 50 – 50,” he said. “In balance, those were both
supportive of what the pastor had done in his decision, and then some
who were very angry and non-supportive of that decision.”
“There obviously is polarization, and
certainly what I want to do is try to effect some healing,” he
added. “At the same time, as a Catholic bishop, I uphold our
According to Wojtowick and Huff, the
church has lost as many as 40 parishioners over the incident.