The forced resignation of a Catholic church music director who married his longtime same-sex partner apparently won’t be challenged in court.
Jamie Moore, who was music director at St. Victoria Parish Catholic Church for more than 17 years before he quit at the request of church leaders, decided Friday not to pursue legal action against Archbishop John Nienstedt, according to his former lawyer.
“I think he was in a very good position to challenge the termination because of the reason that was given, and that was marital status,” Clayton Halunen said Sunday, explaining that Minnesota churches are allowed to discriminate based on sexual orientation but not on marital status.
“I’m very disappointed in the decision,” Halunen added. “I think if had we had a favorable result … it would have helped many others in the LGBT community to preserve their employment if they choose to get married.”
Moore could not be reached for comment on Sunday.
Weekend masses at St. Victoria included comments from the Rev. Bob White about Moore’s departure, which the pastor said was like losing a loved one. “It’s a deep loss,” he told the Carver County congregation at a 10:45 a.m. mass. White called Moore his friend and the “voice of the church.”
White explained the process that led to Moore’s resignation and expressed his hope that the congregation would come together. He received a standing ovation as he left the podium to begin the mass.
Parishioner Celeste Brausen said she was pained to hear Moore will no longer be with the church.
”I hope the church can find a way to welcome everyone,” she said. ”That’s the way the Catholic Church should be.”
White, who told the congregation Moore voluntarily resigned, said in a news conference later Sunday that he had been aware Moore wanted to marry his partner.
“How he came to this decision is consistent with the man I’m proud to call my friend for the last 18 years,” White said. “He did it in a way that was an expression of who he is and how he lives.”
Archbishop John Nienstedt said last week that although he is not directly involved in parish employment decisions, he was consulted about the Moore situation and told local church leaders that “the teachings of the church must be upheld.”
He added that church policy also states that an employee can be immediately discharged for conduct “inconsistent with the faith, morals, teachings and laws of the Catholic Church.”
White said he “respects the archdiocese’s prerogative to request a termination,” but said Moore is still welcome to worship at the church.
“Jamie has created a legacy that has shaped this parish into who we are today,” White said. “He was that impactful.”