A Catholic priest in Calgary, Canada is facing criticism after claiming in a sermon that the Pride flag was invented by Satan.
Jerome Lavigne, the vicar for education at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Calgary, said the rainbow flag—which was created by Gilbert Baker in 1978—”represents lawlessness, a break from the natural order” and “evil,” according to The Star Calgary.
In his sermon, entitled “The Rainbow,” the priest, who works in the publicly funded Calgary Catholic School District to help prepare students as young as six for confirmation, told followers that Baker couldn’t have made the Pride flag because the idea was “way too ingenious… No-one is that smart.
“The rainbow flag stands as a sacrilege of unfathomable proportions. This is nothing short of spitting and laughing in God’s face”
— Reverend Jerome Lavigne
“There is only one who twists truth to this level,” he continued, before adding: “And his name, his name is Satan.”
Catholic priest rants about LGBT+ community
The clergyman, who was appointed as the diocese’s vicar of education in July 2017, added that LGBT+ people’s use of the Pride flag was a “sacrilege of unfathomable proportions” and “nothing short of spitting and laughing in God’s face.”
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He also voiced his discomfort over the idea that “a priest in his 80s can’t even be seen in public wearing rainbow suspenders without people automatically associating the symbol of God’s covenant with some movement that’s taken root and bore malicious fruit around the entire world.”
Lavigne also gave a sermon in September called “Origins of Evil” in which he said that when it came to being gay, there was “no such thing as ‘God made me this way,'” and no justification for what he called “depraved, intrinsically and gravely disordered actions.”
In response to backlash from some in the community, Calgary Bishop William McGrattan said in a statement that the Church “advocates that we live together in an atmosphere of peace, safety and respect for the dignity of one another regardless of age, ancestry, body image, culture, sexual orientation and religion.”
Comments about Pride flag and LGBT+ people spark outrage
The Calgary Catholic School district is once again under fire, having faced criticism earlier this month for reportedly asking its teachers to sign documents which allegedly suggest same-sex relationships are a breach of their employment contracts.
One teacher from the district has now brought her case before the Alberta Human Rights Commission, and the priest’s remarks being made public has just increased the levels of outrage felt by pro-LGBT+ figures in the community.
Kristopher Wells, an associate professor at MacEwan University who specialises in sexual and gender minority youth, education and culture, said: “These kind of comments make it open season on LGBTQ youth, saying it’s okay to openly discriminate against them.
“It’s not fine to bring those beliefs into a public school environment… These are the kinds of comments that breed hatred, violence and discrimination.”
He added that LGBT+ kids made up “a vulnerable community, which has much higher rates of suicide.“
Wells said that Lavigne’s remarks were “deeply disturbing and absolutely create an unsafe environment in our schools for (LGBTQ) youth.”