The pastor of St. Victoria's Catholic Church called the forced resignation of the parish's longtime music director "a deep loss," even as he told his congregation he understood why Archbishop John Nienstedt called for Jamie Moore to step down after Moore married his same-sex partner last weekend.
The Rev. Bob White spoke to parishioners before Mass on Sunday morning, according to the Star Tribune. Moore was the music director at the parish, located in Victoria in the west metro, for more than 17 years.
"Jamie's love for us, for this parish family, and for his faith is magnetic," said White, according to FOX 9. "Jamie's leaving is not what anyone would have wanted. It's a deep loss. We feel it in our gut."
White and other staff at St. Victoria's have known for quite some time that Moore is gay, and Archbishop Nienstedt became aware in 2011 that Moore and his partner were living together, Moore said last week. At the time, White told Nienstedt he intended to keep his employee on staff and nothing further was said until last week, Moore said.
White told the congregation that someone anonymously informed the Archbishop of Moore's plans to get married, according to FOX 9.
"In the end, the Archbishop could not find a way to reconcile Jamie's decision to marry with the teachings of the church. I respect that," White said. Moore submitted his resignation on Thursday. White added that while Moore is no longer a staff member at St. Victoria's, he is welcome to continue worshiping there and sing from the pews.
The Catholic Church opposes same-sex marriage, and in 2012 the archdiocese actively campaigned for passage of a constitutional amendment in Minnesota that would have defined marriage as between one man and one woman. Voters defeated that amendment, and same-sex marriage became legal in Minnesota last year.
White added that all involved were acting "honorably" according to their convictions, but he alluded to a divide between what church leaders and many church members believe.
"Perhaps ultimately it's about contrasting visions of what it means to be church," White said, according to FOX 9.
The Star Tribune notes that Rev. White received a standing ovation from the congregation after he finished speaking.
Moore was not in attendance during the Mass, but wrote a letter to the congregation thanking them for their support, according to WCCO. It read, in part:
"While there are some who don't welcome everyone into the greater Catholic Church, I know that the vast majority of people at St. Victoria live lives that are truly examples of the way Christ would live; free of judgment, filled with love.”
The full text of Moore's letter is here.
The Star Tribune also reports that Moore has decided not to take legal action against the archdiocese over his departure, quoting Moore's former lawyer.