(CNSNews.com) - The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans has evicted the Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) from a Catholic AIDS hospice because of a complaint that the church believes in same-sex marriage.
"I was shocked, and after that, I was hurt and disappointed. It is a message to me of exclusion rather than inclusion of all people," Rev. Dexter Brecht of MCC told Cybercast News Service.
But Steve Crampton, chief counsel for the American Family Association Center for Law and Policy, defended the archdiocese, saying that since the hospice Lazarus House is their private property, the "church was acting within its legal rights to terminate the arrangement.
"They were concerned the impression would be conveyed that they somehow condone the teachings of the Metropolitan Community Church on the issues of same-sex marriage by allowing them to remain in the space," said Crampton.
MCC is expected to leave the hospice by Nov. 1, but Brecht said they have no problems with the hospice itself.
"We don't have any problem with the good services provided by the Lazarus House itself," said Brecht. "The administration of Lazarus House was forced into making this decision, unfortunately."
Rev. Laurie Reed of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays New Orleans, who is also the minister of pastoral counseling for MCC, echoed Brecht's thoughts, saying she was "stunned" after working well with the people at Lazarus House, the archdiocese and Sister Anthony Barczykowski of Catholic Charities, who Reed said filed the complaint.
"If it is because they are gay, I think they knew that when we signed up," said Reed, who questioned what prompted the filing of the complaint.
"I'm just wondering if [Barczykowski] is getting some pressure from somewhere else or if the Catholic Church is under fire by so many different problems that they've had or if the world has just become so much more fundamentalist. Our feelings are really hurt by this. It's a real slap in the face," Reed told Cybercast News Service.
Reed added: "We are still really in shock about the whole thing. She was skeptical whether we were Christian or not, and that is kind of hard to swallow from anyone, but especially from her. They don't value our ministry and what we do for the community."
Crampton was "struck" by MCC's "pretense of being a Christian denomination." He added: "I would suggest that merely saying it does not make it so, and that in fact, it is nothing of the sort."
Reed said that while 11 churches in the area have offered to house the MCC, "It has spurred us to go ahead and get our own place so we are not as vulnerable to the powers that be. We put ourselves out there as an open church. A lot of churches are very closed; you have to be just this one way to come here."
The Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans was unavailable for comment.
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