Bishop supports decision to request a gay parishioner to step down from positions within the Catholic Church

MARQUETTE – Bishop John Doerfler of the Marquette Catholic Diocese is supporting Father Larry Van Damme’s decision to ask St. Michael Parish parishioner Bobby Glenn Brown to step down from his positions within the church as lector and cantor because of a commitment ceremony Brown shared Saturday with his same-sex partner of 30 years.

“Because there’s lots of emotions that come up with these kinds of things, it’s real easy for misunderstandings to take place, and so I have talked with Father Larry Van Damme, the pastor of the parish and I have every belief that he handled the matter with utmost charity and with integrity and I offer him my full support,” Doerfler said during a press conference Tuesday afternoon.

Doerfler said Brown was not asked to step down because he is gay, rather because he chose to act on his “same-sex attraction” in a public way.

“There’s a difference between having same-sex attraction and acting on those,” Doerfler said.

Brown has said Van Damme spoke with him before Sunday’s mass, telling him he could no longer be a cantor or a lector because of the ceremony.

Brown has since decided to resign from his position on the pastoral council and said he will no longer attend St. Michael, where he has been an active member for the past three years.

For more on this story, see Wednesday’s edition of The Mining Journal.

Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is