Father Tony

Catholic Church maliciously blocks new job for Father Geoffrey Farrow

Filed By Father Tony | January 23, 2009 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Geoffrey Farrow, Prop 8, Roman Catholic Church

Have you wondered whatever became of that California priest who refused to give in to a directive from his bishop to instruct folks to vote yes to Prop 8?

If you've been following his blog, you know that Father Geoffrey Farrow was suspended for following his conscience but continues to work for LGBT justice.

The fact that he is barred from functioning as a Roman Catholic priest is bad enough, but recently, through mutual friends, I received some sad news about Father Geoff. News that makes me extremely angry. News that demonstrates the malice of a church that preaches the love of Jesus while deliberately persecuting a priest who for all the right reasons dared to follow the real teachings of Jesus.

Read what happened to Father Geoff, after the jump.

Father Geoffrey Farrow had applied for a position with the Los Angeles branch of CLUE, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice.

CLUE identifies itself as follows:

We are an interfaith association of over 600 religious leaders throughout Los Angeles County who come together to respond to the crisis of the working poor.

CLUE derives a significant part of its funding from the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Today I spoke with a member of CLUE's board of directors, Rev. James Conn, a Methodist minister and Director of New Ministries for the California-Pacific Conference of the United Methodist Church. Reverend Conn had been directly involved in the recruitment and interview process involving Father Geoff.

I asked him if CLUE had denied Father Geoff a second interview specifically because the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles threatened to cut off all its significant funding for CLUE should Father Geoff ever be offered the position in question.

As incredible as it may seem, Reverend Conn confirmed the truth of this and expressed his heartfelt disappointment over the fact that CLUE had to choose between continuing the interview process with an extremely promising and qualified candidate or risk losing the financial support of the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Los Angeles that is critical to CLUE's work.

A second interview with Father Geoff had been scheduled for December 15, 2008, but on December 13, Father Geoff received a phone call from CLUE expressing disappointment over their decision to terminate the interview process solely because of the threat made by the archdiocese of Los Angeles whose representative on CLUE's board of directors had brought the situation to the attention of the highest level of authority in the archdiocese.

It is important to note that, in his interview, Father Geoff was not trying to pass himself off as a priest "in good standing" with the Roman Catholic Church, and that the bishop who suspended Father Geoff is the ordinary of a different diocese.

It is also important to note that the ministry performed by CLUE is to the poor. Its primary focus is not the LGBT community. Father Geoff would not be representing the Catholic Church on matters of faith and morals in his new position.

It is important to note that at the age of 51, after having devoted 23 years of his life to the Roman Catholic Church plus an earlier 7 years in the seminary, Father Geoff has had his medical benefits discontinued and is without income and assistance from his bishop. While it is disgusting that his bishop has turned his back on Father Geoff, it is infuriating to think that his bishop would conspire with the Cardinal Archbishop of Los Angeles to block gainful and appropriate employment.

I am well familiar with the jargon of the Roman Catholic hierarchy. They will say that they feel compassion for Father Geoff and that they pray for him, but their actions speak too strongly and demonstrate deliberate malice. They do not wish him well. And, God forbid that they should have ever proactively attempted some sort of out-placement effort on his behalf. Some bishops privately do that on behalf of priests who leave, but not the hard-hearted bishop who cut off Father Geoffrey Farrow nor the malicious Cardinal Archbishop of Los Angeles.

I am writing this because I've learned over the years that the Roman Catholic Church gets away with this kind of despicable and inhumane treatment of men who choose to follow their conscience only when its bad deeds are not held up to a strong light. Father Geoff does not wish CLUE to lose its funding and therefore has remained silent about this, but his friends have brought this situation to my attention, and I want Catholics in California and beyond to understand clearly the level of unchristian behavior and deliberate malice of which their bishops and cardinals are capable.

I hope you will consider going to CLUE's website and leaving them a message about your feelings (please keep in mind that CLUE wanted to continue its interview with Father Geoff so don't paint them as the "bad guy". If you want to leave a message for the real "bad guy", you may contact the office of Cardinal Roger Mahony.

Archdiocese of Los Angeles
3424 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90010-2202
213 637 7000

Ask them why they hate Father Geoff. When they assure you that they do not hate him, ask them to prove it and soon. Right now, more than their insincere prayers, he needs a job.

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Anyone familiar with the suffering inflicted by the Catholic Church's 'Mother' Theresa shouldn't be surprised by any of this. They build up 'holy' caricatures of monsters. It's a house built on lies, deceit and killing the ignorant through misinformation. While I feel sorry for this guy, working for such a hierarchical organization is like saying you'd have worked for the Bush White House and tried to change it from the inside. Not gonna happen. Hopefully he's learned his lesson.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | January 24, 2009 12:13 AM

Being raised Catholic I can say that "compassion" and religion never crossed paths...let alone accuracy, fairness, science, equality of women,...coming to grips with the 16th century...

Thanks Fr Tony for this important update and my support will go to Fr. Geoff in a tangible way.

This is why we need more secular organizations working for social justice. Religion comes with baggage and conditional "love".

Rick Elliott | January 24, 2009 2:37 AM

This makes me mad as I can be. It's reminiscent of an event in a Protestant denomination that isn't hierarchical. A minister counseled with a 13-year old about some of his troubled feelings about his sexual orientation. Later at a congregation-wide gathering he told an anti-gay joke. The mother of the boy stood and objected to the joke. The minister replied, "What could we expect from you and your faggot son!"
To simplify the story. The mother and son were hounded with phone calls and having their house egged. A woman minister from an entirely different area tried to get the local organization to, at least, admonish the verbally abusive minister who violated pastoral counsel. She got nowhere. She delivered a letter to each delegate of their national assembly with no names mentioned. The national assembly was outraged at what the abusive minister had done.
Later the woman minister, who championed the mother and her gay son, was convicted on charges that she didn't consult with the abusive minister before she took her action. He got off Scot-free.

What a different Roman Catholic Church we see from that of Pope John XXIII and the Vatican Council he convened! In 1967 a Roman Catholic seminary hosted an inter-seminary event. Up until the time of John the 23rd, non-Roman Catholics were barred from the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. At that ecumenical gathering the highlight was the final Mass. The celebrants of the Mass were the Bishop and Archbishop of a whole swath of the US. All of us--from whatever denomination we came from--were enthusiastically invited to partake of the Sacrament along with the Roman Catholics. One of the Protestant leaders was also invited to share in the distribution of the bread and wine.
At the same gathering the Archbishop welcomed everyone to a question and answer session. Roman Catholic students hotly questioned him about a controversial local issue. He welcomed their questions and answered candidly. There were no repercussions from their interrogation.
What a different Roman Catholic Church we have now.

Contrast these events with the national advertising campaign of the United Church of Christ (former Congregational Church). The campaign made it abundantly clear that everyone, especially LGBT folks, are welcomed.
The historian in me recalls that Jesus' main message was the reform of the religious community of his day. In fact he readily sought out the company of the folks the religious authorities of his day banned from worship. The word hurled at us--sinner--is a word entirely different from the word used in Jesus' time. Sinner referred to all who were unclean and thus couldn't participate in worship. Included in than ban were all women, because of the menstrual cycle, Jews who intermarried with non-Jews, shepherds, because they were one of the robber professions, men with a birthmark, one leg, or with some birth deformity. Sinner is a much more specific word than the one broadly bandied about today.
One further thing burst out of me needing to be said: The Church of today has gotten the furthering of the institution confused with the furthering of the Dominion/Kingdom of God.


This is exactly the sort of retaliation we should be worried about when people get fired for being gay.

There's not much that can be done. It would appear that Fr. Geoffrey Farrow will not be given a new posting unless he repents of his 'sin.' Not submitting to the heirarchy of the Catholic Church basically gets you shunned. It's happened time after time, it's just the way it is. Fr Farrow was surely knowledgable of what might happen to him if he were to disobey his bishop. No other Catholic bishop will likely have him work in their diocese either, until he repents of his error.

Now his error, we see as correct thinking. But the Catholic Church will never work in that manner. Submission to authority is a hallmark of the Catholic Church and Fr Farrow has broken his vows by not submitting. Re-instatement just isn't going to happen. He might as well look to the Episcopal Church or get a secular job if he isn't going to repent to his bishop.

Dear Lynn,
I follow your thoughts about this - to a point. I want to make sure you understand the difference between suspending a priest and using money to black-ball him in his future secular endeavors elsewhere.


The Catholic Church is not going to have anyone representing them that the Church considers to be in error. And now I re-read your piece and find I was in error, I read that he would be representing the Catholic Church. So I was a bit strong in what I wrote.

Even so, it's the Catholic Church's money so if they think that a person who does not represent their interests is working in a position to which they contribute, then they are going to withdraw those monies. I imagine if the applicant was an out gay person the Church would do the same. Just the way it is.

Do I think it is wrong? Yeah. But the Church has the right.

Lynn, you're still not reading carefully enough. CLUE is an ECUMENICAL group, with members of many different belief systems working together against poverty. Geoff would not be representing the Catholic Church.

For the email notices....

It's a real world guy against the religious fantasy of organized deluded lunatics. He's better off getting away from faith based groups for a while and move to San Francisco and get a job at a gay bar up in the Castro. Meet another sweet man and set up housekeeping. Time for a few laughs and psychological counseling to get out of religion. Read the writing on the wall. He is not going to change an ancient institution which has it's roots based on sexual guilt.

Dear Charles,
While I happen to agree with your suggestion that he become a bartender in the Castro for awhile, I think our boy has the heart of a social worker and will probably not be seen shirtlessly making change.

Fr. Tony;
Compassion is not something that I have associated with the Roman Catholic Heirarchy for many, many years. I am a Magdalen survivor, orstracised in my own country, which is why I ended up an expatriate in Spain in my late teens.

It worked out well for me in the end, but I am a rare case. Many many more had their lives and spirits destroyed..

Maura, I wonder how many readers understand your reference to being a Magdalen survivor. If you have not already done so, it is a story worth telling. I for one would like to know about that experience.

Over at Pam's I have, in my diaries, a post called "My Sister Aine" which includes a recounting of my incarceration as a young woman "at grave moral risk" at the Gloucester Street Laundry.

I am told that the movie "The Magdalen Sisters" is a watered down but mostly accurate retelling of the lives of "Maggies" imprisoned by the Church's wretched policies towards women. I cannot bring myself to watch it, though I have tried.

In 2005 I visited my own home village, only to be snubbed and ostracised for having been a "Maggie"
I've never gone back.

Back in the 90's I stood outside of Gloucester Street the day it was closed with a crowd of other women. I could almost see myself staring hoplessly and tearfully staring through the gate as I was in 1972.

A few years ago, I received a call from a Sister of Mercy asking if I was indeed the person of my name who had been at Gloucester Street. I indicated that I was and she informed me that programmes were available to further the vocational(all blue collar low income trades) developement of "women who had been under the Church's care in the Industrrial Schools"

I informed her that I had my doctorate and was a barrister. She asked a bit about my personal circumstances and I told her that I had children, but was divorced. She made some snarky comment about "well, we tried to teach you girls about morality." I hung up and was so upset that I did something that I had never done, I cleared my schedule and went home from the office for personal reasons, in tears....

My own Catholic Family, particularly the rural extended family, all of whom will roll on the ground in fits if they are more than arm's reach from a rosary or prayer card, avoid me unless they find themselves at odds with the Church, divorced, or in some other "grave moral danger"

And Tony, no one remembered that we even existed when we all suffered and too many died behind those hugh walls topped with broken glass to keep us in. If we escaped, the Gardai(police) brought us back to our slavery.

No one knew, no one remembered, no one cared, til some Sisters sold our burial ground and instead of the 50 some bodies that there were death certificates for, they found 135 of us buried, just from one single institurion. No one knows how many of us lie buried in others. Rather than investigate, the Government, under pressure from the church, rapidly issued death certificates for the rest, including the unknown.

Forty Four Thousand Irish women were imprisoned and enslaved by the Church, Tony, sentenced to perpetual penance by cleaning priests vestements, altar cloths, nuns habits 18 hours a day in silence. Families were often told that we had taken jobs as maids in Australia.

The only way out was if a relative found you and got you out, usually with the condition that you left Ireland or if you agreed to take a lesser set of vows as a "Sister of the Madgalene"
We could not join the regular orders, we had to remain marked for our sins.

As a final insult, the Sisters, members of a Church in Irelnd thats still frowns upon and discoruages anyone from permitting cremation though it accepts it grudgingly in certain cases, had the lot of us cremated to save money and dumped into a common hole. The Sisters who were buried in the adjacent, well kept and marked lots, were respectfully, individually and carefully re-interred in a Catholic Cemetery

We survivors raised the money for the monument to our sister Magdalens that stands over their hopefully final resting site.

An American singer, Joni Mitchell, was the first voice that we ever had. She wrote a ballad about us; if you want to hear our voices, listen to the song "The Magdalene Laundries"

Dear Maura,

I have seen that frightening movie and I have that Joni Mitchell song. There is a great line in it about those nuns: "They wither the grass they walk on."

I too was taught by the Sisters of Mercy. Those women were not merely doltish, they were sick. I was a straight-A student not by dint of brains but out of fear. They treated me like dirt because I wasn't Irish like them. As if the fact of their Ellis Island arrival a mere five minutes before my Italian grandparents gave them social status. I took Patrick as my middle name as a way of joining that club, and it served me well in the years to come. As an adult, I had to overcome an unfair hatred for the Irish because of those nuns. I always gloat when I read about another of their vast motherhouses being sold off with the last few of their kind wheeled out and placed in nursing homes. I don't like feeling hate, but sometimes it is beyond my control.

I can't help but wonder what inner resources you drew upon that brought about your survival and success.

I wasn't there for even a year, Fr Tony. No secret powers, no inner skill..

I was lucky, I was fortunate, that is all.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | January 25, 2009 11:39 AM

Wow, Maura, I didn't know you had been a Magdalen survivor. I'm so glad you got out and away!

I was raised Catholic, too, and escaped relatively intact. No one gets away from that institution without some psychological or emotional damage. I despise the church for its hypocrisy, cruelty, sexism, homophobia, greed, and arrogance. I hold my tongue around my father, who practices his religion with humility, kindness, compassion and a heavy dose of denial around the Vatican's real policies and stances. If everyone practiced Catholicism like him, it would truly be a different world.

I agree with Charles. Geoff should get as far away from the church as he can, try to shake off the cobwebs and chains of its indoctrination, and enjoy as much as possible the rest of his life. Not he, nor Bilerico, are going to change that evil organization.

Father Tony
We are in a depression and CLUE has to kiss ass of who ever has the money. I see they are looking for a new Executive Director, probably hoping to find one who can raise funds. Think again.
Non=profits are having a hard time like everyone else in the economic meltdown. The evaporation of wealth has depressed charitable donations; the state and local budget crunch has deprived nonprofit groups of their most dependable revenue stream; and, even as resources shrink, more Americans need assistance. President Obama does not have a plan for "shovel ready" jobs and will take years before they begin repairing infrastructure.

Dear Charles,
I suspect you do see where this might be headed. The objective is to have CLUE keep its funding AND get the new hire they want. We can help this happen by bringing to light the malice of the archdiocese of Los Angeles. They need to be made uncomfortable in their childish black-balling of Fr. Geoff.

You above all should understand the value of protest.

Where to start? While I am generally good with words I find it hard to describe the contempt and loathing I feel for organized religion in general, and the Roman Catholic Church in particular.

I was 10 years old when I joined a Catholic boy's choir in Los Angeles in 1960. For the next 3 years I was subjected to physical, mental and sexual abuse. While the choir was not officially part of the Roman Catholic Church, its affiliation was far from remote.

We sang at 5 or 6 masses a week. The choir ran its own school, with lay teachers, except for Catechism which was taught by clergy. We spent 4 hours a day in school, and 4 hours in rehearsal. On Saturday nights we stayed overnight at the choirhouse so we could rise early for performances at 3 or 4 masses in various churches around town.

I was never molested by clergy, in fact, the priests and monks I came in contact with were kind and decent folk...the nuns were scary, but never harmed me, and I was under the impression that EVERYBODY thought nuns were scary.

Horrific as my story may sound (my therapist thought so), I did not blame the church for what happened to me. I despise the Church for what it did to others. I despise the Church for re-parking its perverts in distant parishes and allowing these crimes to continue again and again. I despise the Church because of the innocent lives that have been broken by its systemic corruption.

I was not a part of the huge settlement paid out by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to the victims of sexual molestation. The truth is, I am not broken.

With help, I fixed myself. I even repaired my relationship with my mother, who refused to let me quit the choir after a particularly brutal beating. And the last thing on earth I wanted was the Catholic Church's filthy money, obtained by fear and fraud.

When I hear stories like this, and I see the address of the Archdiocese posted as it is here, my thoughts run to fantasies of explosive violence, Molotov cocktails, RPGs and such. A sharply worded letter just isn't gonna do it for me, sorry about that.

There is no God. Anyone who asks you to accept some dogma on faith alone is a fraud. Religion is a corruption and a plague upon humanity, that cannot withstand the briefest investigation by a reasonable and rational mind. The further Father Geoff can get from the Church, the better of he'll be.

Can't say that I am surprised in the least. I am disheartened a bit because I always hope for the best in people.

Allan Brauer | January 24, 2009 2:39 PM

Father Tony, will you be cross-posting this at Daily Kos or other sympathetic sites with a broader reach? It's a terribly important story and you tell it best.

Dear Allan,
It is my hope that our fellow bloggers will pick this story up so that the archdiocese will deny and reverse their position. I don't care if they lie about it to cover their asses, but I do think Father Geoff ought to get the second interview that CLUE wanted to give him.

Allan Brauer | January 24, 2009 4:11 PM

I dropped an email to Andrew Sullivan urging him to highlight this story and link to it.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | January 24, 2009 3:32 PM

One more of tens of thousands of priestly vocations lost to holy mother the cult. They may have to resort to what is too cutely portrayed in http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-PVO6nfUK8 .

Some people think the cult will whither and die as secularism and sanity squeeze them into a corner but I think we have to give it a push or two. The priesthood is a waste of human resources and those trapped in it for economic reasons should be helped to become productive citizens who actually contribute to society.

We can give the process a nudge by insisting that no priest be allowed within 500 feet of children unaccompanied by armed guards.

Secondly all roman cult schools should be reopened under secular control. Seminaries, cloisters, monasteries and other facilities should be closed and the assets confiscated without compensation to pay damages to victims of clerical rape and mistreatment.

Third, like any segment of the entertainment industry the roman cult should be taxed. Until they bleed.

Fourth we should insist that priests and bishops who fled the US (most to the Vatican, where the age of consent, by an odd coincidence, is the lowest in Europe at 12 years of age) be extradited home. Unlike the Guantanamo detainees they very likely to have committed the crimes they’re charge with.

I have forwarded a link to this story and your Bilerico email to two reporters on the Religion page of the LA Times. It's time to shed some light on this darkness.

What a horrible experience, Maura H.

The current Sisters of Mercy in the US strike me as being liberal, in that they had no problem with an MCC congregation using their retreat facility for an anti-racism retreat, and that some Sisters of Mercy are vocal in the protest movement for female priests. Yet they are the same order as the one that ran the Magdalen Laundries where Maura H. was so unfortunate as to have been "imprisoned"/ restrained and enslaved. I had assumed that the order had assumed an independent outlook after Vatican II, or after the feminist resurgence in the 1970s, but the Magdalen laundries were only closed in the 1990s. Perhaps the US sisters are considerably different from others in the order in the recent past. It's hard for me to wrap my brain around the order going from enslaving pregnant girls to welcoming ecumenical out-and-proud gay Christians in 15 years.

Dear Maura
That is an amazing story. Did RTE or BBC do a report on it ? If not, why not? It should be made into a documentary.

I had it easy by comparasion. Most women suffered far more. Their stories, watered down, edited to meet the objections of the Church of Rome, have been told.

They may not be the same order of Mercy sisters, there are many orders.

Fr. Geoff is just the latest victim in a long and distinguished line of voices silenced, ideas crushed, lives destroyed.

But the focus needs to be on him, and not him as an anomoly or a "bad and querreolous priest" but as the latest victim of a policy that extends far beyond one brave man speaking out, a policy of oppression of ideas and voices.

Along with everything else, we can now add extortion to the list of sins that those in leadership of the catholic church continue to commit. It is sad, but the leadership of the catholic church is now more infamous for their criminal behavior than they are for their pastoral ability.

That is not all bad however, because what they have done is give us a tool to help us discern right from wrong:

If the catholic church says it is right
--- it probably isnt
If the catholic church says it is wrong
--- it probably isnt
Whatever the catholic church says do
--- do the opposite, it will probably be right