Churches were built to save the souls of sinners. But the Archdiocese of Toronto, headquarters of the Toronto Catholic Church, has decreed that one sinner, NOW writer Gerald Hannon, should stay off church property.Hannon is no stranger to controversy. He lost his teaching job at Ryerson after he let it be known that he moonlights from time to time as a prostitute. He has also spoken in favour of sexual relationships between adults and children.
But the dust-up with the Catholic Church stems from one of his other pastimes -- composing and singing. Hannon wrote a piece of liturgical music for Kammermusik Toronto, an outfit he's sung with for the last two years. The piece was performed at St. Basil's Church on the U of T campus in October, where an audience member noticed Hannon's name on the program and promptly lodged a complaint.
"I was told by (Kammermusik director) Keith Muller that either I had to leave the choir or the choir had to leave the church," says Hannon, adding, "What drives me nuts is the smallness of this. I thought sinners were supposed to be welcomed in the church."
For the time being, Hannon has voluntarily withdrawn from the choir. He says he called St. Basil's in order to speak to the pastor directly but was told instead to call Suzanne Scorsone, the archdiocese's spokesperson.Scorsone tells NOW that sinners are welcomed in the Church if they are seeking pastoral help. "But it is up to each pastor to ensure that the public use of church space doesn't send a mixed message," she says. "Public advocacy around two highly exploitative activities, sex with children and prostitution, obviously runs against church teaching."ANDREW CASH