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Minn. Catholic Church Musicians Say They Were Fired For Being Gay

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Members of a rural Catholic parish in eastern Minnesota are at odds over the dismissal of three choral musicians.

Bob Bernard, Travis Loeffler and Dominic Mitchell were dismissed last month from the Church of St. Joseph in Taylors Falls and the Church of St. Francis Xavier in Shafer. They say the cluster parish's new pastor, Father John Drees, dismissed them after learning they were in same-sex marriages.

In a statement, Fr. Drees said the parish doesn't comment on personnel issues, but did say: "I can assure you that we do not change employees', vendors' or volunteers' statuses because they are gay."

Some church members are concerned that the dismissals will lead to more people leaving the parish, which has about 400 members. Others are concerned about the decreasing inclusiveness of a community that has a history of being tight-knit.

Father Michael Tix, a church leader at the Archdiocese of Minneapolis and St. Paul, also released a statement on the firing.

"It's the pastor or administrator and his lay leaders who are best able to assess what is necessary for building a team that can give a credible witness to the Gospel in that community," he said in the statement. "We urge our pastors to be both fair and consistent in the applications of rules and standards."

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