November 06, 2005

A gay priest receives the sacrament of acceptance

Boston Globe

By Charles A. Radin, Globe Staff | November 6, 2005

UTICA, N.Y. -- The folks on Hospitality Row do not mind talking about the fact that the Rev. Fred Daley of St. Francis de Sales Church is openly gay. They know that is why Daley is in the spotlight at a time when some leaders of the Roman Catholic Church are blaming homosexuals for its sexual abuse scandals, and possibly preparing to bar gays from the priesthood.

But they would prefer to talk about Daley's 13 years of service to their impoverished Corn Hill neighborhood, and how he established one sorely needed social service after another: opening refugee housing in the former convent, a shelter for girls from the streets in the former rectory, a soup kitchen in a former crack house across the street from his imposing red brick church, and affordable day care in the former Catholic school.

What counts for Grace Sunday, a refugee from sectarian violence in Sudan whose family is one of four from that country living in the former convent, is that ''everything is just right here. We lived for four months free. We ate from the food pantry. Now I'm working as a teacher's aide" at the day-care center.

In Sudan, Sunday said, ''You'd be isolated if you said you were gay, and stoned to death" for homosexual activity. ''But in the United States, it's normal. I have to go with the present."

Openly gay priests in the Catholic Church are hardly the norm, however. While there are no firm statistics, supporters and critics of gay priests agree there is a substantial number of gay priests in the US, although only two or three are open about it.

Posted by kshaw at November 6, 2005 03:24 AM