Faced with the possibility of a law allowing people of the same sex to be “married” and to experience love and sexuality deeply, we understand that approving it … puts us on the path of the Gospel of Jesus.
These words began a statement issued by a group of priests from the city of Córdoba during the debate over Argentina’s gay marriage law. The priests belonged to the Grupo Sacerdotal Enrique Angelelli, a group affiliated with the Liberation Theology movement named for a bishop of Rioja killed by Argentina’s military dictatorship in 1976.
The group was led by Nicolás Alessio, who had been a priest in the San Cayetano for 26 years. In an interview, Alessio told me he thought that by opposing the marriage law, the church was committing the same sins it had during the junta, allying itself with the oppressors against the oppressed.
The [Catholic] hierarchy had collaborated with persecution, discrimination, stigmatization, of homosexuals. The church collaborated with the prejudice of considering homosexuals sick, sinners, and also delinquents.
The priests affiliated with Alessio were not the only ones to speak out in support of the law. Another group even published a statement in Pagina/12, one of Argentina’s major papers.
Most were allowed to continue being priests. But not Alessio, who refused to stop speaking out on the issue after his bishop ordered him to. He was suspended, and then decided to leave the church.
Today, Alessio explained,
I do pastoral work with a “remnant” of the community [from my old church] and with other “remnants” of various communities that don’t feel included by the official space. We are “the same other Church”; the “same” because we’re nog going to create nor build new structures, but “other” because we feel free from Roma, from the Vatican … free to live a faith that is plural, inclusive, of the poor, and prophetic.