Priest Rebuked for Role in Cousin's Same-Sex Wedding

Rebuke will go on permanent record of Rev. Michael DeVito, of Sacred Heart Church in Suffield.

Hartford Archbishop Henry Mansell has rebuked a priest from Suffield for participating in his cousin's same-sex wedding in New York.

Rev. Michael DeVito, of Sacred Heart Church in Suffield, spoke with Mansell after the wedding in August.

The meeting happened after a wedding announcement in the New York Times mentioned that DeVito assisted in the August ceremony. It was not clear how Mansell became aware of the wedding announcement.

The archdiocese released a statement Thursday.

"Archbishop Henry J. Mansell has met with Father Michael DeVito regarding the priest's participation in a same-sex marriage ceremony involving a cousin in New York City on August 19th. According to Father DeVito, his participation in the ceremony was limited to doing a reading. He wore no vestments, but had worn his Roman collar. Archbishop Mansell informed Father DeVito that his participation in this ceremony was understandably perceived by many Catholics as an implicit endorsement of same-sex marriage, which is contrary to Church teaching. As a consequence, and in accordance with canon law, the Archbishop formally rebuked Father DeVito and informed him that the rebuke would be a permanent part of his record. Fr. DeVito said that he would not participate in any way in same-sex marriages in the future."

The church’s response has sparked outrage.

“I understand where the Catholic church is coming from, and it makes me really sad,” said Robin McHelen.

DeVito’s reprimand struck a chord with McHelen, who runs True Colors, an advocacy group for the gay and lesbian community.

“I grew up Catholic. The word I grew up with was abomination,” McHelen said.

McHelen worried that the rebuke would hurt those struggling with their sexuality.

 “It sends a message to kids that if you're gay, you shouldn't be Catholic,” McHelen said.

While some parishioners in Suffield thought he crossed the line, most disagreed.

“I guess I don’t see anything wrong with it. If that’s his family member and he wanted to be there, that's fine,” Janine Liddell said.

“I think what he did was fine because he was with family ... and family is family, no matter what,” Carolyn Zartner added.

That reason wasn’t enough for the Catholic Church.

“Every religious faith has its right to its own rules and regulations and belief systems,” McHelen said.

It was a belief system DeVito said he would not go against. He agreed to not have any involvement with same sex marriages in the future.

The Archdiocese would not say what DeVito’s punishment was, only that it would be a permanent part of his record.  

DeVito would not comment on his meeting with the Archbishop.

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