Church slams priest's support of 'NO H8'

A person holds a gay pride flag during a rally. (Photo by Matt Slocum/AP)
A person holds a gay pride flag during a rally.

The Archdiocese of Newark spoke out against a priest’s support for the “NO H8” campaign and called the anti-discrimination group “incompatible” with Catholic teachings, following reports that Seton Hall University’s Rev. Warren Hall was fired for his support. 

“Father Hall had been giving support to an organization that as one of it’s primary goals -- same sex marriage-- what some people call marriage equality,” archdiocese Communication Director Jim Goodness said. “It was creating issues and conflicts in what the Church teaches. Priests have to be clear in what the Church teaches.”

Hall tweeted on Friday that he was fired for posting a photo of himself in a “NO H8” shirt, sparking community outrage and a protest that captured that original tweet before Hall deleted it, urging students to use the incident to foster conversation on LGBT issues on campus. 

Already, thousands have signed the petition urging the archdiocese to reinstate Hall.

Goodness declined to speak further about the Church's decision to move Hall, but said he hadn’t yet been given another assignment, which was not uncommon as some take time off in between assignments. 

He also said the petition -- which writes that Hall’s firing was “in line with the words of Pope Francis” – is “inaccurate” because “the Church has long taught that marriage is between a man a woman … And that’s not going to change.”

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But Pope Francis has made headlines for softening on gay issues and the Church has seemed to be working to attract more gay parishioners. 

“Who am I to judge?” he famously told reporters of a hypothetical gay priest in 2013. In October 2014, Catholic bishops preparing the annual synod weighed softening condemnations of gay and divorced Catholics. In March, the Pope broke bread with some gay and transgender prisoners in Naples.  

Hall could not be reached by press time. But Seton Hall said in a statement: “Seton Hall is a welcoming and accepting academic community with a diverse array of students, faculty and administrators. We pride ourselves on the close-knit fabric of our community and celebrate, accept and embrace all of our members. Countless students comment on how safe, comfortable and at home they feel here at the University and how diverse, accepting and welcoming the Seton Hall community is.”