Citing the organization’s support for traditional marriage, a suspended Catholic priest who has turned to homosexual activism has called for Catholic pastors to block Knights of Columbus groups from their parishes and to borrow against the order’s insurance policies to fund homosexual groups.
He said he advocated such action in part because the fraternal charitable organization helped support California’s Proposition 8, which restored legal marriage’s definition to being between a man and a woman.
Fr. Geoffrey Farrow, former pastor of the St. Paul Newman Center at California State University at Fresno, was removed as pastor in October 2008 for defying church teaching on homosexuality and for condemning Catholic support for Proposition 8, the California Catholic Daily reports.
Writing in a June 4 post on his personal blog, Fr. Farrow wrote:
“Many priests have e-mailed me and expressed their rage and anger over the hypocrisy of the Catholic hierarchy in supporting anti-marriage equality legislation… One of the organizations, which the bishops have effectively employed to do their dirty work, has been the Knights of Columbus.”
He discussed what priests can do to fight “the anti-gay agenda of the bishops and the K of C.”
“Borrow the full amount against your Knights of Columbus life insurance policy immediately,” he advised. “Take the check and invest the funds with an LGBT friendly fund. Do not pay back the loan.”
According to the Knights of Columbus’ web site, for more than 120 years the order has sold insurance to help protect families against “financial ruin.”
Patrick Korten, Knights of Columbus Vice-President of Communications, told CNA in a Wednesday e-mail that those who hold a “whole life policy” with the order may indeed borrow against it.
“As with any loan, one is charged interest on the amount borrowed. Taking a full loan against a policy and not paying it back simply diminishes its value to the policyholder and could cause the policy to lapse.
“That, in turn, defeats the very purpose of having the policy in the first place: protection against financial adversity,” he explained.
Fr. Farrow’s blog post also asked priests not to allow Knights of Columbus groups to publish announcements in parish bulletins and not to allow their events to be held on church property. Fr. Farrow suggested programs be created as a pretext to push out the order’s meetings.
“Pastors may grant or withhold permission for organizations to use church facilities for their meetings,” he wrote. “Most parishes have very tight facility scheduling. Create a program and tell the K of C they need to meet elsewhere.”
According to the California Catholic Daily, Fr. Farrow is the scheduled homilist for the “Eucharistic Celebration” at the 2009 Dignity USA Convention held this July in San Francisco. The event’s keynote speaker is a parishioner of Most Holy Redeemer Church, a San Francisco parish that often dissents from Church teaching on sexual ethics.
Dignity USA, itself criticized as a dissenting Catholic group, on its website says it works for the “reform of its [the Catholic Church’s] teachings and practices regarding human sexuality.” It claims more than 35 chapters across the United States.
Korten’s Wednesday e-mail to CNA also commented upon Fr. Farrow’s actions.
“We adhere to the clear teaching of the Church on marriage, whereas Fr. Farrow has chosen to publicly defy that teaching,” he said.
Korten added that the priest appeared to be “seriously at odds with the bishops” in the U.S. and around the world in his description of the Knights of Columbus’ pro-marriage activities as the bishops’ “dirty work.”
“We proudly stand with Pope Benedict XVI and the bishops and priests who are in communion with him, and stand with him on marriage,” Korten told CNA. “Not only is that not ‘dirty work,’ it is, in fact, the work of Christ and his Church. We have been supporting the Pope and our bishops for 127 years. We have no intention of changing that.”
Asked whether there were any legal issues with Fr. Farrow’s recommendations, Korten replied:
“For better or worse, giving people bad advice is not a crime.”
However, Fr. Farrow is “encouraging other priests to turn their backs on the largest and most effective lay Catholic organization that is dedicated to supporting them in their work of evangelization and pastoral care. He is attempting to undermine the tremendous work that the Knights do for charity and for the church in thousands of parishes around the nation and the world.
“I doubt that many priests would even consider following his advice,” Korten remarked.
The Knights of Columbus has 1.7 million members in more than 13,000 councils worldwide.