Pro-Marriage Equality Argentinian Priest Defrocked

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Thursday Apr 18, 2013

A Catholic priest from Argentina was defrocked on Friday for endorsing the measure that legalized same-sex marriage in the South American country in 2010, the Global Post reports.

Father Joe Nicolas Alessio, who served in the central province of Cordoba and was first suspended in 2010, said, "More than 30 years serving God's people has meant nothing for the Catholic Church. All it took to get thrown out was having an opinion different from that of the archbishop."

To be defrocked in the Roman Catholic Church means that the Alessio has been relieved of any and all offices, roles and obligations, including his vow of obedience (except his vow of chastity and hearing the confession of a dying penitent). Alession cannot be reinstated without consent from the pope.

Argentina is home to the newly enthroned Pope Francis, who strongly opposed the marriage equality bill when he was known as Jorge Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aries. Argentina has been one of the most advanced countries in South America when it comes to gay rights. In July 2010, the country's government legalized gay marriage, which made Argentina the first country in Latin America and the tenth in the world to do so.

According to a 2011 article by ultra-conservative website Life Site News, Alessio, who is gay himself, publicly approved Argentina's gay marriage bill but was suspended over his support. Soon after the Archdiocese of Cordoba suspended him, the priest refused to comply with the punishment and that only physical force could prevent him from carrying out his duties at his parish.

"I obey my community first, before him [Archbishop Carlos Ñáñez], and his canons and decrees and sanctions," he said. The church, however, stood by its decision and released a statement confirming that:

"The Archbishop of Córdoba, Mons. Carlos José Náñez, clearly states that, after having exhausted all means of pastoral requests for Fr. José Nicolás Alessio to mend his ways and publicly retract the statements made by him in support of alleged 'marriage' between persons of the same sex, which is contrary to the teaching and the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, and given that the above-mentioned priest has denied any possibility of changing his actions, it has been decided to initiate a church trial in the Interdiocesan Tribunal of Cordoba so that all acts are in accordance with the church law in force, and establishing an interim measure that formally 'forbids him to public exercise priestly ministry,'" the statement reads, according to blog True Catholic.

Life Site News pointed to a YouTube video in which Alessio gave a speech at a gay rights rally. "First, I want to ask forgiveness because I belong to an institution that is still converting to the gospel of Jesus, a Jesus who never condemned homosexuality, who never condemned homosexual marriage, and, to the contrary, this same Jesus condemned the proud, the powerful, and those who discriminate," he said.

A similar incident occurred in Caifornia in 1999 when many urged the Dioceses of Oakland to defrock Father Dan Danielson after he allowed the blessing of gay marriages, the Los Angeles Times reported. Danielson, however, retired in 2007, the Catholic News Agency notes. Danielson retired before any could be taken, however.

Watch Alessio's incriminating speech below:


  • WayGay, 2013-04-18 08:23:20

    Wow so the Vatican condones priests moldering boys but they defrock this guy because he supports gay marriage. I wish God would rain down sulfur on that piece of Roman real estate.

  • Oh Jed said:, 2013-04-19 07:39:31

    What a great opportunity for Father Alessio to seek out a denomination that is actually worthy of his devotion and love for his beliefs.

  • Wayne M., 2013-04-19 16:34:24

    Like "Oh Jed", I would hope that Rev. Alessio will find an authentic Christian denomination in which he will be encouraged to practice his ministry and service to God and people. Quite frankly, as a former Roman Catholic, I question the right of that church to use "Catholic" in its name. "Catholic" means universal and by alienating a wide spectrum of Christians from its ranks over several centuries, it is anything but truly universal.

  • , 2013-04-19 17:43:17

    Fr. Alessio would be welcome in the liberal catholic tradition - for example the Old Catholic Apostolic Church - a church that has (and can prove) apostolic succession in its bishops; a church that does not discriminate by gender or orientation, and judges not the person but the fruits of their work.

  • GAG'EM, 2013-04-19 19:51:50

    I would hope that this incident would wake up Fr. Alessio and all other decent Catholics, Christians, Jew, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc. to the reality that religion is a dangerous, anti-human and deadly concept, created by the powerful to oppress the powerless. There is no problem with organized religion. Organized religion IS the problem. And anyone who holds any position in a religious institution is part of the problem.

  • Wayne M., 2013-04-19 20:24:37

    To Gag’em: I am sorry, but you are wrong. Merely because some people in religion and some religious groups are hateful or commit hateful acts does not mean that religious faith and organized religion in general is the problem. Do not forget that while there are those who love to use religion as an excuse for oppression and hate, many more have been motivated by their religious faith to to great and wonderful things that liberate people. And do not forget that societies and governments that have suppressed religion and supported official atheism have also been extremely oppressive and brutal against all people and groups - including LGBT people. Think of Pol Pot in Cambodia and Stalin in Russia for example.

  • londoncat, 2013-04-20 06:13:33

    The Roman Catholic Church is run by a clique of morally bankrupt males. Consider this: child abuse, sexual abuse, downright financial swindling (via the Mafia etc)...that’s just a start - and here add total hypocrisy about gay clergy - oh yes! - we know plenty of them don’t we.....

  • GAG'EM, 2013-07-29 01:53:32

    To Wayne M.: Read some world history. Organized religion and religious intolerance have been the most destructive and murderous forces in world history. To name a few incidents: the Crusades, the Inquisition, the conquest of the Americas, the slave trade and oppression of Africans in America, the Holocaust, honor killings in the Muslim world, the conflict in Northern Ireland and acts of genocide in Africa can all be attribute to the wonderfully intolerant and oppressive institutionalized religions. And the oppression and murder of LGBT people in African and Middle Eastern countries just continues these proud traditions. The religious people who have done good in the name of their Gods are the rare exceptions.

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