Archdiocese discourages church talks by lesbian and her father

  • Article by: JOY POWELL , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 22, 2007 - 11:19 PM

Two Catholic priests agreed not to have a Minneapolis woman and her father talk about their book. The event was held elsewhere.

In the wake of objections by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, two priests agreed not to allow a lesbian Catholic and her father to talk in the priests' Minneapolis churches about a book on their family's experience.

Carol Curoe, of Minneapolis, and her father, Robert Curoe, of Bernard, Iowa, were to speak at St. Francis Cabrini Catholic Church on Monday night about the book they wrote, "Are There Closets in Heaven? A Catholic Father and Lesbian Daughter Share Their Story."

It's an account of how the devout Catholic farmer underwent a spiritual transformation after learning of his daughter's homosexuality.

But last week, after conservative bloggers were critical and contacted the archdiocese, spokesman Dennis McGrath contacted St. Francis Cabrini and St. Joan of Arc, the church where Carol Curoe, her partner and their children worship.

McGrath said when he learned of the scheduled book talk, he advised St. Francis Cabrini that "it wasn't a good idea" and that Archbishop Harry Flynn would not approve of a lesbian who is "in an actual full sexual relationship" speaking at a church.

McGrath said a Twin Cities activist, Michael Bayly, has blown the situation out of proportion.

"Nobody banned anybody or hit anybody over the head or threatened anybody," McGrath said. "We welcome gays and lesbians in the church, and there are many, I'm sure, who go to many of our parishes. But they have to follow the rules. ... they cannot be sexually active."

Carol Curoe said the book chronicles the journey of her 82-year-old father, a traditional Catholic, as he sought to understand and practice his faith while also loving his daughter.

In 1990, when Carol broke the news of her sexual orientation in a letter to her father in Bernard, a tiny farm community, he was deeply upset. Years later, when she and her partner, Susan Langlee, decided to become parents, Carol's own parents wrote a supportive letter disclosing all to friends, relatives and neighbors.

She and Bayly, executive director of the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities, a group seeking greater church acceptance for gays and lesbians, said the cancellations illustrate tensions between liberal and conservative Catholics. Still, they said, the Curoe story could help other families.

Bayly called the archdiocese's actions "disappointing."This understanding of church as an exclusive country club with a set of rules that everyone's got to follow -- I don't think that's reflective of the type of community that Jesus was all about," he said.

On Monday night, nearly 100 people turned out for the Curoes' book talk, which went on at a different location: Spirit of the Lakes United Church of Christ in Minneapolis.

Joy Powell • 612-673-7750

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