Michigan Priest Criticized for Homily Claiming People Cannot Be Gay and Catholic

Fr. Mitchel Roman

Catholics have spoken out against a sermon by a Michigan priest who criticized LGBTQ people in the church.

The sermon, which Fr. Mitchel Roman delivered at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, Traverse City, has been removed from the St. Francis Facebook page as a result of the laity’s opposition to it, Traverse City Record-Eagle reported.

In his sermon, Roman “took aim at the LGBTQ community, suggesting a person cannot be gay and also be Catholic.” He also “criticized Pres. Joe Biden, who is Catholic, abortion and today’s cancel culture.”

Jan Renollet Chapman, a parishioner, felt that the sermon “departed from the Catholic faith,” saying:

“‘Discrimination in any form is wrong. . .The Catholic thinking is love and promotes dignity for every human being.'”

Another church member, Sherri Glezman, called the sermon “upsetting and offensive,” explaining:

“’I am the proud mother of a gay son and I am appalled that Fr. Roman is now insinuating that my own son, his husband, and therefore my family are now unwelcome in the church. His message is insulting to the LGBTQ+ community and to those who love and support them, as God would ask us to. Aren’t we all suppose to ‘love thy neighbor?’ Imagine a lonely resident sitting in church that day needing to find God, to find a place they belong and feel safe and this being the sermon they heard.'”

Roman’s words drew opposition beyond the Catholic community as well. Traverse City Mayor Jim Carruthers responded after numerous people contacted him about the sermon. Carruthers said, “It was a typical right-wing Trump kind of thing.”

Carruthers wrote a letter to Roman and to Bishop Walter Hurley of the Diocese of Gaylord asking for an apology. In the letter, the mayor called for respect for all people:

“‘As the mayor and as a citizen, I’ve worked long and hard to grow a community that supports all its citizens.  Working alongside many of our faith-based leaders, we have supported tolerance, diversity and acceptance for all our human differences … Your statements fly in the face of this work and our city human rights ordinance and all our efforts toward building a community that welcomes everyone.'”

The mayor went on to say, “Our general Traverse City community does not embrace the division you sow and you should do the right thing by supporting an inclusive message, not one that divides us.”

In a public statement posted by local news station Up North Live, Roman expressed regret about discussing the Biden administration but did not apologize for his remarks about the LGBTQ community, saying:

“‘We have … removed the video [from the Internet] because of the negative response in the community, which was unintended. I regret that this message caused contention within our community, as the goal was to address the complex situations of our times and not to cause division. My mentioning of specific political representatives or administrations was inappropriate, and in future messages, this will much more carefully be taken into consideration.'”

Roman went on to imply that his message was in line with church teachings, saying:

“‘The Catholic Church is never disconnected from the social and moral issues of its day, and it’s important to discern all sides. It is always the intention of the Church and her priests to be the voice of the many significant moral issues at hand, sharing the teachings of the Church, and inspiring us to live according to the Gospel.'”

Roman’s sermon, however, seemed disconnected from the reality of Catholic life. Queer Catholics are everywhere, as Glezman recognized. They are faithful, involved members of many parishes. And often, they are behind the altar table, as research suggests a third or more of priests are gay. So Roman’s suggestion that it is impossible to be gay and Catholic seems to be coming a bit too late.

More concerning is the impact words like these could have on parishioners who are struggling to accept their gender or sexuality. It is good to see parishioners speaking out about Roman’s sermon.  Their words could be ones of hope for someone in their community who really needs it.

Mac Svolos, New Ways Ministry, February 24, 2021

11 replies
  1. Hayden Smith
    Hayden Smith says:

    Like so many priests (Esp Catholic) they still do not understand that the Love of God is for all and not some exclusive right.
    Christianity, by its own definition, is a pilgrimage religion. Its Truths remain the same but our understanding of the Love of God develops on our journey.
    It’s surprising how many younger (and of course older) priests are still set in their Conservative ways. They are unable to make the pilgrimage journey.
    As Freud as clearly pointed out, many who condemn others are themselves hiding from their own true feelings and are trying to divert attention away from themselves.
    We so know this is true with recent uncovered events in the life of the Church (and other religions)
    Let us get back on our journey of understanding. One of Love that embraces all.

  2. Fr. Vincent S. Treglio, osf
    Fr. Vincent S. Treglio, osf says:

    Fr. Roman might do well to go back and study Old Testament, esp. Genesis 1 v 31 “And God saw everything he had made, and behold it was VERY GOOD.

    It has been said, Father, that we sometime hate in others what we see and hate in ourselves. Remember ” rocks and glass houses?”
    May God give you peace
    Fr. Vincent, osf
    Guardian, Franciscans of Ft. Lauderdale, FL

  3. Nancy Mascotte
    Nancy Mascotte says:

    Thank you to the Lay members of the community that used their voices. My hope is that more will do the same, rather than remain silent or leave. I believe we would have a much more authentic and relevant church.

  4. Tom Bower
    Tom Bower says:

    Perhaps the good Father should go back and read his catechism and even Cardinal Ratzinger’s extremely negative and harmful 1986 letter on the care of homosexuals. They both insist on care and respect of homosexuals and while insulting they neither one deny participation in the Church. Indeed does the Reverend presume to deny the graces of the sacrament of Baptism to those who have received it? Jesus called for all to come to Him with no exclusions. This homily is a side sign of the poor teaching given to new priests if this is they way they hope to lead people to the Faith.

  5. Timothy MacGeorge
    Timothy MacGeorge says:

    What is positive in this story is that so many lay people “in the pews,” acting on their own well-formed consciences, had the courage to speak up. This priest, sadly, is emblematic of so many younger clergy who push a highly conservative, almost reactionary perspective on a broad range of issues affecting the People of God. Less judgment and more humility infused with compassion might be in order.

  6. Don E Siegal
    Don E Siegal says:

    The question for Fr. Mitchel Roman is: Are you so ashamed of your own sexuality that you have to lash out against the LGBT community? If Fr. Roman is that conflicted about his own sexual urges, he should seek appropriate counselling about coming out to self.

    I have personally benefitted from a form of therapy called client centered therapy. It helped me understand who Don was and what made Don tick. The conclusion of that therapy was I accepted that I was gay and that I would be the best gay man that I could possibly be. I am now 84 years-old and spent 50 years as a health care provider in the field of dentistry in the specialty of periodontics in the United States Navy. I believe that I have achieved my goal.

  7. Brian Frank
    Brian Frank says:

    If the Terri Glezman quoted here is who I think she is, she is Chasten Buttigieg’s mother. That CANNOT be a coincidence. Roman is most likely targeting her directly given who her son and son-in-law are and that is utterly disgraceful!

  8. Ann Connolly
    Ann Connolly says:

    This article is so disheartening! The photo of this very youthful priest who has spewed such destructive words from the pulpit makes me wonder what is happening in our seminaries? Are men being indoctrinated in this twisted demagoguery? Are individuals who may harbor personal views that do NOT reflect our Christian-Catholic values not being screened and prevented from ordination? When vocations are in decline and every priest is critical to sustaining our Church, the fact that even one man can be so toxic is very troubling!

  9. Sarah Probst Miller
    Sarah Probst Miller says:

    Sermons like these are darkness posing as light. It is refreshing to see parishioners standing up to be the inclusive voice of Jesus in situations like this.

    I pray our church leadership actively stops priests like Father Roman from being stone throwers and “bouncers.”

    God is bigger than this. God is bigger than this narrowminded darkness posing as light.



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