The priest who canceled an appearance by a lesbian politician at a Catholic school in Durham, N.C., is reconsidering his decision.
Father Chris VanHaight, pastor of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, met Thursday with Durham City Council member Vernetta Alston and apologized for rescinding her invitation to speak to students at Immaculata Catholic school, which the church runs, reports The News & Observer of Raleigh.
Alston, an alumna of the school, an attorney, and a longtime activist on social justice issues, had been scheduled to appear at a Black History Month event February 8. She had been invited by the school’s African-American Heritage Committee, but VanHaight ended up canceling the event and closing the school for the day, saying protests were expected over Alston’s appearance, and he was concerned about students’ safety. He later admitted that he had a problem with hosting a lesbian elected official who is married to a same-sex partner, which is contrary to church teaching.
VanHaight received much criticism for the decision. He apologized when he met with Alston, she told The News & Observer Friday. The paper reports that he reinvited her, but she disputed that characterization of the meeting, although she is open to appearing at the school.
“I made it clear I still want to talk to students,” she said. “We’re working out the details.”
VanHaight was not available for comment.