A Syracuse priest makes sure everyone who walks through the doors of his parish feels welcome.
Father Fred Daley leads worship at All Saints Church, where he goes out of his way to ensure members of the area’s LGBTQ+ community have a safe and welcoming place of worship.
The church is part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse. Father Daley and the church’s LGBTQ task force are opening the doors of the congregation to all, while challenging what they call the ignorance of other Catholics who question their right to be part of the church and cry out what they say is a tendency to allow the interpretation of Scripture to evolve on some social issues, but not on others.
“Jesus loves each person and everyone unconditionally, and called his followers to certainly live that way,” Daley said.
Daley, himself an openly gay priest, and members of the LGBTQ task force at All Saints said they had no doubt the love of Jesus Christ was with them.
“He had a special fondness for those who are perceived as outsiders,” Daley said.
For many members of the group, like Toni Guidice of Syracuse, this understanding of the general teachings of Jesus Christ is the basis of their faith.
“God kissed lepers, he ate with sinners. Everyone, he accepts everyone. It’s not a crazy extension to believe that God loves gay people,” she said.
Regarding the six verses that Daley says are often used to “crush people”, as he said he insists they were written at a time when the idea of individual sexual orientation was not understood, and criticizes those on these verses while allowing the interpretation of Scripture to evolve when it comes to other passages.
“All major Christian scripture scholars, including Catholic scripture scholars on the continent, make it very clear that none of these six passages say anything about sexual orientation as we understand it today,” Daley said, pointing out that the idea of individual sexual orientation did not exist at the time the passages were written.
“And yet we continue to use these passages to exclude people, hurt people and chase them away,” he said.
Daley also pointed out that he does not consider it appropriate to compare loving someone of the same sex to what he calls more harmful biblical transgressions, such as adultery.
Jeff Wright, also from Syracuse and a member of the LGBTQ task force, said that through interactions with others, slowly, he can see reliance on these passages as a means of discrimination being reduced.
“How quickly the stigma can go away that they’ve grown up or been taught by society or by religion, and that’s what keeps me going sometimes,” he said. “One of the biggest things that’s happened is more people have come out and said, ‘Oh I didn’t know you were gay and I like you,'” Guidice added.
Pastoral associate Meg Kasander said by letting go of some of the most divisive interpretations of scripture, as a congregation, they feel it brings them closer to the heart of the teachings of Jesus Christ.
“By honoring our diversity and inclusiveness here at All Saints, we become more capable of pursuing God’s mission in terms of outreach,” she said.
For Chrispin Ojwang, who said such a level of tolerance was hard to find in his native Kenya, it was part of what drew him to the church.
“I think a church like All Saints who is welcoming to everyone, who will accept everyone, makes a lot of sense to me because then it makes it easier to understand or explain to anyone then that everyone can be accepted by God,” he said. said.
Daley said that was exactly his vision for the parish.
“All who walk through those doors and become involved in the parish bring gifts, talents and faith that make us all more faithful to the gospel,” he said.
The church is also known for its extensive advocacy work, helping refugees within the community.
The Diocese of Syracuse has not commented on this story.