TORONTO, July 10, 2009 – The Catholic Civil Rights League commented today on the filing of a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission against the Bishop of Peterborough for discontinuing the service of two homosexual men as altar servers at a parish church in the diocese.

According to a report published in The Catholic Register, Jim Corcoran brought the complaint after he was asked to give up his position as an altar server at Sunday Masses. Mr. Corcoran, who has acknowledged that he is homosexual, was relieved from those duties at St. Michael’s parish in Cobourg, Ontario.

Without commenting on any individual personnel situation or personalities that are involved in this case, the relationship between the Church and altar servers has none of the attributes that would make it a subject for a complaint to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal. No one serves on the altar as a right; it is at the discretion of the pastor, who in turn is at the service of his bishop.   Mr. Corcoran’s role was not unlike that of  other liturgical servers, who are part of the overall presentation of the Mass.    

The decision about who can serve on the altar is a matter of Church governance. While the Church is subject to human rights law when it employs people in a commercial relationship, the same cannot be said about decisions involving who is a member, or how they can best serve.  
The League hopes the Human Rights Tribunal will avoid an interference with the Church’s governance in this matter.  It should not place itself as an arbiter of canonical precepts.  

About CCRL
Catholic Civil Rights League ( assists in creating conditions within which Catholic teachings can be better understood, cooperates with other organizations in defending civil rights in Canada, and opposes defamation and discrimination against Catholics on the basis of their beliefs. CCRL was founded in 1985 as an independent lay organization and has chapters across Canada. The Catholic Civil Rights League is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.

For further information: Joanne McGarry, Executive Director, 416-466-8244.