CommunityJustice For All

Worcester Art Museum’s LGBT Outreach Not A Deal-Breaker For Area Catholic Institutions

Worcester Art Museum posted this note of congratulations and invitation on their Facebook page last week after the US Supreme Court ruled DOMA section 3 unconstitutional:

Congrats LGBTQ Nation! The Worcester Art Museum is proud and happy to host your wedding!

Worcester is a liberal-progressive city situated in the heart of Massachusetts, the first state to legalize marriage for same-sex couples, so the museum’s community outreach is a happy continuation of the status quo.

What is notable is that the ensuing complaint by the pastor of Saint Bernadette Parish, a small Catholic church located several towns away in Northboro, is being overshadowed by larger, more accommodating Catholic voices.

“We’re simply not going to support them institutionally as in the past. We’re just following the lead of the diocese on that,” Rev. Stephen M. Gemme, pastor at St. Bernadette Parish told Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

Except that the Diocese of Worcester hasn’t ordered anyone to do anything.  “We don’t support gay marriage. But, we haven’t said divest yourself of any organization,” the communications director for the Diocese of Worcester Raymond Delisle told Telegram & Gazette.

On the contrary, representatives from College of the Holy Cross, Assumption College and Anna Maria College, three Worcester-area Catholic colleges, made clear that their beneficial and long-standing associations with the museum trump any disagreement they may have with the museum’s equitable public accommodations policy.  From the Telegram & Gazette:

Ellen Ryder, director of public affairs at the College of the Holy Cross, said the college has run the library at the Worcester Art Museum since 2000.

“The Worcester Art Museum is an extraordinary cultural institution for our city, and is rightfully celebrated regionally as well as nationally,” she said in an email Monday. “Specifically, for Holy Cross, the art and offerings of the museum’s galleries, library and its many programs represent a wonderful and valuable educational resource for our students and faculty.”

Lorraine U. Martinelle, spokeswoman for Assumption College, said the school continues to have an enhanced membership with the WAM, which allows art history students and faculty greater access to the museum’s collections.

“As a longtime partner and supporter of Worcester Art Museum, Assumption College respects the museum’s opinion of the recent Supreme Court decision,” Ms. Martinelle said. “Assumption is a Catholic institution of higher learning, however, and the court’s decision does not reflect the teachings, mission and values of the Catholic Church, which the college espouses.”

While Saint Bernadette Parish was unable to describe how they’ve allegedly supported the Worcester Art Museum in the past (the museum doesn’t list the parish among its members), the pastor at 600-member-strong Blessed Sacrament, which is located near the museum, told Telegram & Gazette that his parish will continue to support the museum.

“We encourage people to go there on a regular basis to admire the wonderful treasures on display there. What a tremendous community resource it is for us,” said Rev. Chester J. Misiewicz.

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Laurel Ramseyer

Laurel Ramseyer