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Gay priest fired from chaplain job asks Pope Francis to meet LGBT Catholics in U.S.

In May, the Rev. Warren Hall was abruptly dismissed from his position as the popular campus chaplain at Seton Hall University in New Jersey because the Catholic archbishop of Newark said his advocacy against anti-gay bullying, and his identity as a gay man, undermined church teaching. Photo courtesy of Warren Hall
Photo courtesy of Warren Hall

In May, the Rev. Warren Hall was abruptly dismissed from his position as the popular campus chaplain at Seton Hall University in New Jersey because the Catholic Archbishop of Newark said his advocacy against anti-gay bullying, and his identity as a gay man, undermined church teaching. Photo courtesy of Warren Hall

(RNS) In May, the Rev. Warren Hall was abruptly dismissed from his position as the popular campus chaplain at Seton Hall University in New Jersey because the Catholic archbishop of Newark said his advocacy against anti-gay bullying, and his identity as a gay man, undermined church teaching.

Now Hall has written to Pope Francis asking that when the pontiff visits the U.S. in September, he speak out against such actions because they are “alienating” gay Catholics and the many others who support them.

In the letter, which was dated July 14, Hall asked Francis to “find time to listen to the challenges faced by LGBT people, especially those who are Catholic and wish to remain a part of the Church they have grown up in, which they love, and yet which it seems is alienating them more and more.”

Warren Hall letter to Pope Francis

“Good teachers are being fired, pastoral and compassionate priests and religious women” -– referring to nuns — “are being silenced and accept it out of fear of being disciplined by their superiors, and good, faith-filled people are leaving the Church as they witness all of this happening,” he continued.

“As a gay priest, I am personally experiencing all of these things.”


READ: New Jersey priest fired as Seton Hall chaplain comes out as gay


Newark Archbishop John Myers called Hall in May to fire him, as Hall was giving a final exam to his students at the South Orange campus. Myers told Hall his decision stemmed from concerns over a picture the priest posted on Facebook last fall supporting the “NOH8” campaign.

Newark Archbishop John J. Myers is facing fierce criticism for his handling of a priest who attended youth retreats and heard confessions from minors in defiance of a court-ordered lifetime ban on ministry to children. Religion News Service photo by Ed Murray/The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J.

Newark Archbishop John J. Myers. Religion News Service photo by Ed Murray/The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J.

“NOH8” stands for “no hate,” and it grew out of the battle over banning gay marriage in California.

Hall stressed that he was not advocating against any church teachings.

Later in May, Hall, 52, who said he remains committed to his vocation as a priest and his vow of celibacy, came out as gay. A spokesman for Myers responded by saying that “someone who labels himself or another in terms of sexual orientation or attraction contradicts what the Church teaches.”

Hall noted in his letter to Francis — which he posted on Facebook — that he has been given no other assignment by the archdiocese, and in a follow-up telephone interview he said his salary ceased on July 1. He has been living largely on savings and help from friends.

The priest said he had never intended to make his sexual orientation an issue or to advocate for gay Catholics. But he said he has decided to welcome the opportunity that the crisis presented him.

“I am not a theologian. I am not a politician. But I am gay. So I think I have something to say at this moment in time,” Hall said.

Many Catholic gays and lesbians who are school teachers and parish ministers have been fired in the wake of state, and now federal, rulings allowing them to wed their same-sex partners in a civil ceremony.

The most recent controversy came in Philadelphia, when a school run by an order of nuns fired a longtime staffer after a parent learned that the woman had married her partner and complained to the archdiocese. Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput backed the school, saying administrators “showed character and common sense.”

Chaput will be hosting Francis for the final two days of the Sept. 22-27 papal visit, which finishes with a huge outdoor Mass celebrating Catholic families.


READ: Where you can see Pope Francis in the US in September


Yet many Catholics see such firings as a sharp contrast with the more nonjudgmental approach to gays and lesbians espoused by Francis.

Hall said he was motivated by these stories to write the pope, with two goals in mind. The first was to show people upset with the church’s treatment of LGBT people that “this can be the church of welcome” that Francis has called for.

“Removing or firing LGBT people is doing more harm to the faithful than having a gay priest or teacher,” he said.

The second goal is to support other gay Catholics who are not leaving but who are being “mistreated” by the church and could eventually depart. “Think of all the wonderful people we would be turning away,” he said.

Hall said he has chosen not to be angry or depressed about his dismissal, and said his years as a recovering alcoholic have also helped him deal with the situation, he said.

“I am annoyed. I am frustrated. But I do see a great possibility here,” Hall said. He would love it if Myers let him start an LGBT ministry, as some other dioceses have done, though he doesn’t expect it.

The priest said he has had offers from non-Catholic churches, to work for them, but as much as he appreciates the support, he wouldn’t consider switching. “I’m Catholic, I’m not leaving!“ he said with a laugh.

He has no idea if he will receive a response to his letter; Francis has been known to write or even cold-call those who try to contact him. But he said during his U.S. trip, when so much focus will be on Catholic teachings and approaches on sexuality, Francis could begin to change what Hall said is a damaging dynamic in the church over gays and lesbians.

“He could more strongly offer the message that this is your church, too. You are welcome here,” Hall said.

“He could at least help to slow down the firings,” he said, “and help everyone sit back and take a breath. Perfection is our goal, but no one’s there. How can we move forward together for the kingdom?”

YS/AMB END GIBSON

About the author

David Gibson

David Gibson is a national reporter for RNS and an award-winning religion journalist, author and filmmaker. He has written several books on Catholic topics. His latest book is on biblical artifacts: "Finding Jesus: Faith. Fact. Forgery," which was also the basis of a popular CNN series.

51 Comments

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  • Anyone who recites and believes the Nicene Creed is catholic. This cradle “Roman” catholic is now happily worshipping God as an “Anglican” catholic, within an Episcopal church that practices Christ’s law, rather than merely preach it.

    p.s. a note to the inevitable evangelical haters on this thread, I don’t consider you to be Christian, either. Idolizing a book is no different than idolizing a golden calf.

  • On the surface, doesn’t it seem that this good priest is being tortured by the mean, old Catholic Church? He loves his job, loves the Church, admits he’s gay but will eternally keep his vow of celibacy, and only wants to open up a pastoring project for Catholic LGBT’s. A new missionary for the Church, right?

    Wrong. Beware of this type of propaganda. In essence, a priest’s sexuality is a rather moot issue since abstaining from it for life voluntarily, the priest has given up any identity as a sexual being. This priest has put a sinful adjective before a holy, sacramental, vocational choice. Like claiming to be a gay Apostle; one term dismisses the other. You can be one or the other, not both.

    He has mistakenly fallen for the current gay embracement, and sees his chance to “help” from the inside. The Church is not society, it does not embrace the gay movement as it is, it can only address the homosexual as a Catholic individual and not a cause.

  • Yep, here come the Pharisaic Bible-cultists, on cue, perverting Christ’s injunction to love God and neighbor, to suit their personal cultural bigotries.

  • Ted, caveat threats don’t add up to anything. You can seduce and influence young people in some other place. You shouldn’t demand that Catholics that DO adhere to Biblical writ, celebrate your desires to spread homosexuality where it is not welcomed to do so. Go do your gay thing in some liberal denomination and encourage the children in your new denom to engage in any kind of antithetical behavior that makes you feel warm inside. But to demand that you get to practice heresy with complete abandon is just not being honest.

    You LGBT’s have won all you need to grasp affirmation to its fullest. But that does not include forcing good people to add their letter to the LGBT train. Just go be gay where you get patted on the back for desiring that behavior. But allow honest Christians to reject that. You have not one “jot or tittle” of scripture or history to justify what you are doing “IN” The Church.”

  • Ted,

    The Pharisees were religious political authorities that altered the truth for a lie. If you want to look for Pharisees, look to the progressive and liberal voices that are doing the exact same thing the Pharisees did to Jesus and His followers, as gay power is replacing truth.

  • Ted said;
    “…..This cradle “Roman” catholic is now happily worshipping God as an “Anglican” catholic, within an Episcopal church….”

    The so-called episcopal “church” requires of its members that they practice sexual immorality or otherwise approve of same. This is a club for people who pro-actively support and advocate the gay lifestyle. On Sunday morning, they bring children and young people into their buildings and teach them to reject traditional morality, blaspheme Holy Scripture, repudiate Christianity, and then pursue a lifestyle of debauchery and sin.

    The leadership and adult members of the episcopal “church” collectively employ Christian terms and symbols to promote and practice a form of organized spiritual child molesting and contempt for God.

  • Dominic, yes, there should be no reason for this priest to describe himself as “gay.” Just as a priest in the traditional sense should not state that he is “heterosexual,” unless of course he is a married priest in one of the Eastern Rites of the Church. Going over to the Anglican Church, and being accepted there as “gay,” only emphasizes that outside of the Church our Lord established, there is no protection from error.

  • Christ’s injunction to love God and neighbor is not being perverted at all. Should we also accept having sex with God, since you demote love the sexual level?
    How many times must it be stated that homosexual acts, along with a host of other sins of lust, can never be made compatible with Christianity? These priests, preachers, rabbis, pastors, who spread the idea that what our society has blessed recently is somehow a revelation from God, truly lead people in a dangerous direction.
    The Pharisees corrupted the Law, became blinded by pride. They condemned and marginalized sinners, whereas Jesus went to them with hope. The Publican, a sinner, humbled himself before God….expressing his sorrow and love for God’s mercy. The Pharisee boasted of his good life, forgetting that God knows his heart.
    So this priest is misrepresenting Christ, imagining himself a healer. Will he really say to homosexuals “Go, and sin no more”? That is the only comfort the Church can give.

  • You do realize there is a scientifically demonstrated correlation between seething homophobia and latent homosexuality.

    The more you point fingers at people for how they were born to love, the more light you shine on the lack of love in your own.

    I thank God for Christians who practice Christianity, not idolatrous book-worship.

  • Greg, its embrassing that the Anglicans have moved so rapidly into further heresy. Not too long ago there was much talk about reconciliation with Rome, thus undoing the sin of Henry VIII. Now with women bishops and gay marriages IN church, that idea has moved back to the 16th Century, where it rightfully belongs. How a collection of Anglican pastors can theologically agree on this surely questions their religious training.

  • Actually, we do Ted. Christianity was exclusively Catholic for 1500 years. Individuals, perhaps reacting to a corrupt age of Church leaders, reimagined a new faith with no authority to do so. Even under a corrupt hierarchy, the Faith itself was never altered or violated for the whim of either the Churchmen or Society. Rather than work for reform from within, as many had done before ( Catherine of Siena, Ignatius Loyola, etc), the Protestant group denounced the true Church and made one in their own image…..a heresy.
    And the “true” churches just kept on coming..sub dividing into the chaos we have today. Since the Catholic Church is the gift directly given by God, all other sects lack true Authority in interpreting Revelation.
    So we are the exclusive Christian Church despite the expected screams from others.

  • Even if that theory is remotely plausible, what does it prove? Gays have a habit of accusing almost everyone of being ” in the closet”, supposedly making themselves superior.
    Sexual fantasies run the gamut of thought, but fantasies are not conscious choices that we must act on….or we are lying to ourselves.
    And one is incapable of practicing Christianity if Scripture is not read. No one idolizes a book, it is the Author who is worshipped. You seem to think that Christianity is synonymous with kindness and goodness alone. Followers of Christ are also aware of the reality of sin, the time to turn your back on evil, and the answers to give when evil confronts you. We are not intellectually naive.

  • Ted,
    ” I thank God for Christians who practice Christianity, not idolatrous book-worship. ”

    That’s a good comment.

    Here’s a couple of connected verses that explain it, but first, a primer on the Kingdom of God —

    … behold, the Kingdom of God is within us……….Luke 17:21

    The Kingdom of God is not in ‘word’ (scripture verses), but ‘power’ (Spirit of God in us)……it’s not food and drink but ‘righteousness’ (good works and deeds) and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit”………..1 Cor 4:20 plus Rom 14:17

  • “……it’s not food and drink but ‘righteousness’ (good works and deeds)….”

    It is always a good deed to warn unsuspecting people about the dangers of taking children to an episcopal gay “church.”

  • “Christianity was exclusively Catholic for 1500 years.”

    Why is it that people who claim to be Christian know so little?

    No it wasn’t. The Gnostics and the cathars, right off the top of my head. And a pile of others. The orthodox church split off officially from the catholic Church in the Great Schism, but had long ignored the authority of the pope.

    Luther was of the opinion that the Catholic Church was the antichrist. Was he right, or are you?

  • It’s sad and funny how seething bigots convince themselves they are “christian” rather than embarrassments to the faith.

  • Yet you define a form of love you do not know as evil out of fear, then ground it in bad translations and bigoted exegesis.

    The correlation between homophobia and latent homosexuality has been studied and demonstrated with statistical validity. Look it up, unless you’re afraid of science, too.

  • No, we understand basic psychology. And a homosexual-hating homosexual has been more than common.

    Edmund O’Brien, Ted Haggard, Eddy Long, Paul Barnes, Lonnie Latham, Ray Ashburn. Ken Mehlman, quite possibly archbishop Nienstedt, Mark Foley, George rekers, Larry Craig, bob baumann, thaty idot form florida, — and these are just off the top of my head. Probably our own sodomy obsessed BQRQ– but I certainly hope not.

    I am increasingly convinced that a great deal of our opposition lies in the dark hearts, minds and souls of homosexual hating homosexuals. But that’s what self hatred does– it perverts, twists, and destroys everything it comes in contact with, always attempts to deflect attention from itself, exercises its own demons under the pretense of exorcising mine.

    but you can believe it’s just a ploy of ours, rather than reflection of reality. No skin off my nose..

  • “Christianity was exclusively Catholic for 1500 years.”

    So, which of the 75 or so different variations of “orthodox” and “catholic” churches are you talking about, many of which have anathematized one another? Are you including all churches which recite the Nicene Creed?

    Anyone who believes they’re the judge of who is “catholic”, outside of pop-cultural assumptions that “Catholic” means the Roman church, due to its size and political history, is a bit naive of both history and current ecclesiastical affairs.

  • It’s because some churches value the practice of Christianity over the politics of bigotry and fear.

  • I’m pretty sure Ben – with all the time he apparently spends thinking and pondering and shivering about “predatory homosexuals” – could probably stand to read this article. A cold shower might help, too.

  • Dominic, I do believe that we are beginning to see in the Anglican church, what will eventually happen to all Christian churches that have left the place of security God has provided, where the “Gates of Hell” will never prevail against it (Matt 16:18). I do hope that is not true, but the dominoes are beginning to fall one by one. And that is very sad. I do respect our brethren, and wish them well, but when they chose to leave, it was like leaving a family, leading to many heartbreaks with great voids and emptiness. Our Lord prayed that his Church be One (John 17:21). He didn’t promise one that would be perfect; in fact he was really only gathering sinners, so we should expect disagreements, but he did promise Truth through His Church (1Tim 3:15), and that the Holy Spirit would guide it (John 14:16-26). So we should believe those to be true, and just trust Him. So it is only with sadness that I look about at all the division, and I’m sure our Lord is a billion times more sad.

  • Ben, the Gnostics and Cathars, and Montanists, and Arians, etc. were all heretical sects within the Catholic world…all believing they were true Catholics. They never broke officially from the Church as did Luther…….and the hundreds that followed. The Church crushed these heresies and they exist no more.
    The Eastern Orthodox are Catholic since their foundational beliefs are not in error. They only do not accept the Pope as the Vicar of Christ on earth.
    Many have pointed to Popes as anti Christ’s, its a fashionable obsession of those thinking Armageddon is right around the corner……so I stand by my brief explanaon on Roman Catholic primacy of Faith.

  • Ted, the Episcopalians recite the Nicene Creed, so reciting a Catholic litany of beliefs does not make one Catholic. The Creed was formalized to answer the heresy of the Protestant Reformation. When crises of faith erupt in the Church, Rome is forced to clarify more completely what has always been believed.
    I see an encyclical in the future that will clarify infallibly what constitutes a marriage, thus ending any Catholic doubt about what the world has redefined.
    And yes, the Roman Church can judge what Catholicism is, for it is rooted in Christ Himself, its Founder.

  • I don’t define love as evil at all. Homosexual sex is the evil, not the fact that same sex attraction is evil.
    Like I said, sexual fantasies are fleeting and many since we are all sexual beings. With your logic, the love an adult “feels” for a minor should be acted on, for we don’t want to be a repressed child molest or, do we?
    No, this theory that homosexual haters are latent homosexuals is flawed. Maybe they are just haters?

  • Doc, I disagree, but understand your assessment of Pope Francis. I think a lot of his allusions to the gay movement have been grossly misinterpreted by the media and gay groups.
    His “who am I to judge?” quote is not an affirmation of homosexuality at all, it is reminder of Who the Judge is. It is subtle, but it actually asks, “what do you think God would say?”.
    He asserts that male/female unions are only true marriages, and the time may come wen he or his successor may have to state this infallibly.
    I hope.

  • @dominic

    “The church crushed these heresies.”

    As in, they murdered the Cathars? It seems you’re proud of it.

  • It’s a vile “faith” indeed which spends 1,000 years beating, raping, evicting, firing, and killing LGBT people, then turns around and condemns them if the way they show their love together – once given a slim social and legal chance to do so – fails to meet the expectations of that “faith” (which the majority of its own members fail to meet themselves (c.f., divorce rates, spousal abuse, child abuse, etc.)

    It’s been convincingly shown that homophobic behavior – exactly like yours – correlates closely with undisclosed homosexuality.

    Is homophobia associated with homosexual arousal?
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8772014

    Self hatred is the real sin, for you are hating God’s own creation.

  • “Brave” you float in the zone between sad and funny.

    You should read this study, then reflect on your obvious homophobia:

    Is homophobia associated with homosexual arousal? Yes.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8772014

    And, you should read this study, then reflect on why you hate God’s own creation, for simply loving how they were created to do so:

    Genome-wide scan demonstrates significant linkage for male sexual orientation
    http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract;jsessionid=2893C3902402DC1772D6F628BD4D1267.journals?aid=9625997&fileId=S0033291714002451

  • Myers, where have I heard that name. Oh right, he was the Archbishop who allowed a priest, whose conviction for fondling a male teenager was overturned on a technicality, to return to ministry. The Archdiocese agreed, in lieu of a re-trial, to supervise the priest and ensure he did not work with children. Six years later he was the youth minister at a church at another New Jersey diocese. The prosecutor was so incensed (sorry) he yanked the supervision agreement and took it over himself. Francis appointed a coadjutor over the Archdiocese less than a year into his papacy. Someone want to explain to me why that gay priest, who molested a teenage boy, is allowed to keep his job AND work with children, but this gay priest is tossed into the street for saying gays shouldn’t be bullied?

  • Idolizing a “book.” Really? The Bible is God-breathed and Holy Spirit inspired. Please explain how you can separate the word of the living God from the person of Christ Himself.

  • @Dominic: You can actually lay blame at the door step of Leo X. And when his error was pointed out, his kangaroo court at the Diet Worms put a price on Luther’s head for calling for reform. Still, you can back up well before Luther with men like Catholic Priest Jan Huss calling for the church to stop their false teaching.

    On top of that, John Wycliffe (imagine that !!) had the audacity to translate the word of God into English for the average guy to read. The Pope had a cow over that since he considered the Bible the exclusive domain of Rome to decide who could and could not read it. If you could read it yourself, some people in the Vatican might be out looking for work.

  • “With your logic, the love an adult “feels” for a minor should be acted on”

    … only if you’re too dim to consider more than one moral principle at a time. Obviously, sexual relations are only appropriate between consenting adults. But, you’re so bigoted against LGBT people you’re incapable of even distinguishing homosexuality from pedophilia, which in statistical fact is predominantly a problem between adult male fathers and the daughters they molest.

    “No, this theory that homosexual haters are latent homosexuals is flawed.”

    I cited a peer-review scientific study. Have you got anything to back up your personal opinion? Or, is it merely baseless opinion which happens to correspond with your anti-gay bigotry?

  • And just a quick follow up, when I consider the radical divisions in the Christian world, I sort of look at it like our solar system. God is the Sun, and the various churches are the planets. Those that hold fast to the Truth, and have the whole of it, are like Mercury, close to the Sun. Then as Truth takes more and more of a back seat, they get farther and farther away from the Sun, with some barely hanging on by a thread, like Pluto. And as I see it, the Catholic and Orthodox Churches are Mercury; it then works its way out from there. Jesus told Peter, the first Pope, “you are Rock, and on this Rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hell will not reveal against it” (Matt 16:18). But since the Church grew out of Judaism, she remains part of the patchwork of Mercury, however, an area that just stopped growing, but will finally come to the fullness of Truth at the end of time (Rom. 11:25).

  • The Bible is most useful when it is considered an important ‘guide’ rather than turn it into and ‘idol’ or make it a ‘God’.

    Here’s why —

    Paul, in his honesty, says this about his own knowledge and understanding, and for all practical purposes other scriptures as well —

    1. …our knowledge is partial and incomplete…
    2. …we see things imperfectly…
    3. All that I know now is partial and incomplete…
    (1 Corinthians 13:9,12)

    Those are excellent examples that teach us that any or all scripture is ‘too’ partial, incomplete and imperfect to be useful for every situation.

    We therefore must reason out anything and everything in scripture ‘as necessary’. That will help us to ‘effectively’ judge and evaluate a matter or people based on all reasonable, ‘current or modern’ attitudes, experiences and knowledge.

    Thank God that the continuing and the always, modernity inclined work of the ‘Spirit’ is alive and well ‘in many of us’.

  • Garson,
    ” Someone want to explain to me why that gay priest, who molested a teenage boy, is allowed to keep his job AND work with children, but this gay priest is tossed into the street for saying gays shouldn’t be bullied? ”

    Great question.

    This church stumbles in the worst kinds of ways.

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