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Head of US bishops' news agency forced out after criticizing religious-freedom legislation

April 15, 2016

The director of Catholic News Service (CNS), the news agency sponsored by the US bishops' conference, has been forced to resign after posting Twitter messages in which he ridiculed legislation designed to protect religious freedom and to keep men out of women's restrooms.

Tony Spence, who had worked with CNS since 2004, was asked to resign after conservative Catholic outlets drew attention to his Twitter posts. After being escorted from the headquarters building of the US bishops' conference, Spence told the National Catholic Reporter on April 14: "The far-right blogosphere and their troops started coming after me again, and it was too much for the USCCB."

Spence had posted comments saying that the rights of homosexuals were "flushed" by a North Carolina law prohibiting men from using women's bathrooms. Later, reacting to a proposal for religious-freedom protection in Tennesse, he wrote: "Stupid evidently contagious." He referred to the proposal, and similar efforts to protect religious individuals, as "pro-discrimination laws." 


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  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Apr. 16, 2016 6:28 PM ET USA

    So the guy's been on the job for 11 years, but it wasn't until now that the USCCB has been able to figure him out? I wonder if he has ever read any magisterial instructions about the rights of homosexual persons. Cardinal Ratzinger gave clear guidance in this area. As would be expected, Cardinal Ratzinger used subsidiarity and the protection of minors has his guides.

  • Posted by: Rose of Lima - Apr. 16, 2016 12:13 PM ET USA

    Good move by the Bishops

  • Posted by: unum - Apr. 16, 2016 9:59 AM ET USA

    Spence's comments that the rights of homosexuals were "flushed" by a North Carolina law conflicted with much more than the hard right blogosphere! Spence’s twitter statement conflicts with a statement made by North Carolina Bishop Peter Jugis regarding a local ordinance. Bp. Jugis said: “I pray that the City Council will provide all of the people of Charlotte with an ordinance that respects our constitutional right to the free exercise of religion."