Pride society, Catholic archdiocese discuss sexuality and faith

A pride group and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver are coming together for a conversation about the divergence of faith and sexuality, five years after the group was barred from hosting an event at a church-owned facility. 

The event, titled What is Love? An Open Conversation About Faith and Sexuality, will bring together leaders from the Catholic, United and Baptist churches, as well as the White Rock Pride Society, to talk about how love is “informed by faith and sexuality,” according to a media release.

Ernie Klassen, president of the White Rock Pride Society, filed a human rights complaint in 2019. He alleged discrimination after being told the group could not host a dinner and dance at a Star of the Sea community centre in White Rock, B.C., on the grounds that the society did not align with the values of the Catholic Church. 

“At the time, we were just told that the church would not be available for us. They would not allow an openly LGBTQ event to happen within their community centre,” Klassen told The Early Edition host Stephen Quinn. 

Star of the Sea Community Centre
The local parish denied the White Rock Pride Society’s request to rent the Star of the Sea Community Centre in 2019. (Nic Amaya/CBC)

In 2022, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver, the authority responsible for Catholic churches in the Lower Mainland, issued an apology to the society — before the complaint went to tribunal.

Father Bryan Duggan, a priest at the Archdiocese of Vancouver, said conversations between the church and the society continued, and inspired them to host a community conversation. 

“We really value the relationships, friendships that we’ve developed and we want to share that with larger community,” he said.

He said the decision to work on the relationship between the groups was courageous, because there can be a tendency for some groups to avoid outside perspectives. 

“It does take courage sometimes to step out and be open to other perspectives and other walks of life, and that’s not something we always do well in the Christian community. I certainly have been grateful for this opportunity.”

Klassen describes the collaborative event this week as a “dream come true,” after all the society and the church have been through. 

“I never would have thought that we would be here.”

When asked how the church would approach future requests from 2SLGBTQ+ groups to rent church-owned facilities, Duggan said it would depend on the situation. 

“We address these on a case-by-case basis,” he said. “There are policies in place that are very clear and I think that was one of the takeaways as well from this experience — just clarity from the outset about what these facilities are for and what they’re not to be used for.”

Previously, Klassen told CBC that local churches would have to now go through the archdiocese if the pride society requested a church-owned space.

What is Love? An Open Conversation About Faith and Sexuality, will take place at Earl Marriott Secondary School’s Wheelhouse Theatre at 7 p.m. on April 25. 

LISTEN | Pride society, Catholic church collaborate on event

The Early Edition7:07White Rock Pride Society and Catholic Church come together for event

We get a preview of the discussion “What is Love? An Open Conversation About Faith and Sexuality” with Father Bryan Duggan, priest at the Archdiocese of Vancouver and Ernie Klassen, President of the White Rock Pride Society.


Posted in CBC