San Diego bishop apologizes for denying funeral for gay club owner
March 23 2005 1:00 AM ET
San Diego's Roman Catholic bishop has apologized for denying funeral rites to the owner of a gay nightclub and bar and has promised to preside over a Mass to be held in his honor, according to the man's family.
Bishop Robert Brom outraged San Diego gays and lesbians and many Catholics last week when he canceled John McCusker's funeral, saying he wished "to avoid public scandal." At the time, the diocese said McCusker's "business activities" contradicted "the moral teaching of the church."
McCusker's funeral service was held Friday at an Episcopal church.
On Monday, Brom met with the family and "regretfully acknowledged his hasty decision," according to McCusker's mother, Christine. At a community meeting Monday night, Christine McCusker read a statement from Brom in which he said denying McCusker a Catholic funeral "has resulted in his unjust condemnation."
"I apologize to the family for the anguish this has caused them. To help rectify this situation, insofar as it can be, I will preside at a Mass for the family, in memory of John, at the Immaculata," Brom said, referring to the parish where funeral services were originally planned.
McCusker's mother has asked supporters to accept the bishop's apology "as an offering of peace and an offering to do what John would have done, as he is a great advocate of reconciliation and forgiveness."
The statement from the bishop mentioned that he would not make any further comments on the matter.
A conservative activist who said he alerted the bishop to McCusker's gay business interests said he was surprised and disappointed by Brom's reversal. "He emphatically stated to me he would not budge one bit," James Hartline said Monday. "It's very, very strange." (AP)