Argentina, Gay Marriage: Priest Barred From Celebrating Mass

In Argentina,the Senate is debating the law to approve full equality for all families. A priest who has openly declared support for the law has now been barred by the bishops from celebrating Mass.

I suppose this is not a surprise. The Catholic bishops have been fierce in their opposition to marriage equality in Argentina, encouraging major protests yesterday to protest the proposal, while Fr José Nicolás Alessio hit the news earlier as spokesman for a group of priests declaring public support for it. What is noteable in the latest twist, is Fr Alessio’s stated reasoning, and his determination to meet his commitments to the community by defying the bishops, and saying Mass regardless.

“I feel I’m in communion with God, my people and the Gospel, regardless of whether a bishop or the Pope decides to excommunicate me,” he told the BAE newspaper.

I was always taught in Catholic schools that there could be no obligation to obey unjust laws or commands. Catholic teaching is clear that where a decision is determined in good conscience, it must take precedence over external authority. Fr Alessio’s position is a sound, very Catholic one – but I don’t suppose the bishops will see it quite like that.  The Catholic Press has been making a big deal out of the very visible, active protests against marriage and family equality, but  opinion polls have shown that in this overwhelmingly Catholic country, a clear majority support gay marriage and a narrower majority support gay adoption. Many of the politicians answered the Church with statements that they support marriage equality precisely because they are Catholics, on human rights grounds.

From Momento24:

Priest José Nicolás Alessio was sanctioned by the Archbishop of Cordoba due to his position in favor of gay marriage.

The sanctions consist of the prohibition on offering Mass and weddings.

“I am surprised and very hurt because I never thought that the Bishop of Cordoba (Carlos Náñez), who appeared more open to the position of the Argentine bishop in these prohibitions, cut off heads who think differently,” Alessio said.

“I have commitments to my community. I believe more in the Gospel that in these canonical codes, so this weekend I will celebrate Mass, unless they put me prisoner, “the priest added.

Alessio works in the parish of San Cayetano and is willing to challenge the sanction even if “he can make another ‘crime’ when it celebrates Mass, because the first was by thinking differently and the second will be for being faithful to my community.”


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