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Anger at Iowa Newman center after bishop fires transgendered employee

January 18, 2010

Nearly 100 laity are boycotting Mass at an Iowa Newman center after Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines fired a transgendered housekeeper who had quietly offered counseling services and formed a transgendered support group there. Bishop Pates told Susan McIntyre, who was born as Jim Ford, that “your unauthorized representation indicating that you are employed by and operating on behalf of the Newman Center as a counselor or social worker” led to the housekeeper’s firing.

The bishop intervened after Father Joel McNeil, recently assigned to St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Student Center at Drake University, “noticed a piece of paper on a copy machine in the parish office,” according to the Des Moines Register. “On it was a counselor's authorization of hormone therapy for a transgendered person about to undergo a sex change. On a letterhead that included the center's name and address.”

The Register added:

There's a sign out front of the church that identifies it as Catholic, McNeil noted. It's a matter of truth in advertising, he said: Would the parish stick by Catholic teachings or have a set of beliefs that went outside the Catholic tent?

"For a person who sees Christianity as fidelity to what Christ began 2,000 years ago, we can't change that teaching," he said.


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  • Posted by: MAG - Jan. 18, 2010 8:03 PM ET USA

    It was my privilege to be confirmed in the Faith and received into the Holy Catholic Church by Fr. McNeil when he was pastor of St. William's in Round Rock, Texas. I knew him to be a compassionate and merciful pastor with an unwavering commitment to our Mother Church and all that God has revealed through her. I am so glad to see him standing firm. May God give us 10,000 more like him.

  • Posted by: Minnesota Mary - Jan. 18, 2010 7:30 PM ET USA

    Bishop Pates is exactly right in firing this person, and the lay people should back him up.