Aaron Bianco is a married gay man who also happens to be a devout Catholic. I have plenty of questions I’d love to ask him — all of which he’s surely been asked a million times before — but the point is he’s attempting to create change from the inside rather than abandon the Church altogether. I don’t think that’s possible, but more power to him for his unwarranted optimism.
The problem is that plenty of conservatives are furious that he’s involved with the Church at all. Bianco serves as a “pastoral associate” at St. John the Evangelist Parish in San Diego, California. Unlike a priest, Bianco’s same-sex marriage is permitted in his role, but that doesn’t mean everyone accepts it, and the backlash recently went from frustrating to dangerous.
Last week, someone spray-painted the phrase “no fags” on the inside of the building on an office wall. It happened after conservative Christian websites began going after him:
… The Rev. James Martin, a Catholic priest who is a friend of Bianco’s and has worked for LGBTQ inclusion in the church, detailed some of the actions in a Tuesday Facebook post.
“Aaron’s tires have been slashed; he has received threatening emails (some 60 over the last two months), including death threats; letters on his car have been left, one saying, ‘Sodomites not welcome in the church.’ One man physically attacked him at the end of Mass, and had to be prevented by other parishioners from hurting him. This is what hate does, especially the kind of hate whipped up online.”
Martin blamed right-wing websites such as Church Militant and LifeSite News for encouraging homophobia. One Church Militant article, for example, accused Bianco and the San Diego diocese of promoting an “LBGT agenda.” Another said “faithful Catholics” at Bianco’s parish “are suffering persecution by a homosexualist cabal” and that the church is being corrupted. LifeSite News has urged readers to sign a petition calling for Bianco’s firing. A far-right Catholic group called the Lepanto Institute has also objected to the parish’s employment of Bianco and called Bianco’s husband his “sodomitical partner.”
The websites say they weren’t directly responsible for the vandalism, but does anyone think their articles had nothing to do with the culprit?
In any case, Bianco has now submitted his resignation “out of fear for my family and myself.” He did it after those same “pro-life” websites posted images of his family (including his dead mother) and revealed his home address.
In an Oct. 17 media statement about “the vandalism at the parish St. John the Evangelist in Hillcrest and the social media attacks against one of its staff members,” [Bishop Robert] McElroy condemned the vandalism as “vile and reprehensible” and pledged “solidarity with the staff and community of St. John’s Parish at this moment.”
“The hatred that lies behind them constitutes a dark and vicious corner in the life of our Church that every member of the Catholic community must reject,” he stated.
It would be easier to reject if the Church’s top leaders didn’t spend so much time condemning homosexuality and suddenly “heard from God” that it’s fine… Still, it’s a strong statement given the Church’s own dogma. It’s just unfortunate that haters were able to bully a devout Catholic out of the Church because he committed a “sin” they think is worse than all the other ones.
Bianco may be filing charges against the websites that he says posted the “slander.”
(Screenshot via YouTube. Thanks to Brian for the link)