From today’s Wisconsin State Journal:
“After decades of honing his musical skills, Charles Philyaw landed his dream job in 2004 as the full-time director of music liturgy at St. Andrew Catholic Church in Verona.
The church, with 1,643 adult members, was more than just a place to work for Philyaw. He and his partner, James Mulder-Philyaw, joined the parish and participated fully in the religious community.
Then in June, it all collapsed. Philyaw said he was told by the parish priest, the Rev. Dave Timmerman, that he would no longer be retained because he was living an openly gay life. He was given two weeks’ notice.
Philyaw later learned that five parishioners had raised concerns about him and his partner being so prominently involved in church activities. Bishop Robert Morlino’s office became involved, leading to his dismissal, Philyaw said.
His firing has divided parishioners, pitting friends against friends and spawning a sharp debate over Christ’s teachings. More than 100 church members signed a petition — sent to Morlino — praising Philyaw and bemoaning his dismissal. But others say Philyaw’s firing was inevitable because his employment made a mockery of Catholic doctrine.
“Absolutely, Chuck lost his job because he’s openly gay,” said Jo Ellen Kilkenny, one of the five whose inquiries triggered Philyaw’s dismissal.
She calls him a “wonderful music director” and said she feels horrible that he lost his livelihood, yet it became indefensible for him to be in a highly visible role as an active homosexual, she said.
“We are all sinners, but when you hold a leadership position, you’re held to a higher standard than people in the pews,” she said.”