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Church of St. Peter the Denier?

We are witnessing a generation that, all things considered, is content to see the Church turned into a chaplaincy for the ‘gay’ culture and just about any other popular culture that comes along with its own counterfeit gospel.

The nave of Saint-Pierre-Apôtre Church, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Tango7174/Wikipedia)

Saint-Pierre-Apôtre, which was established by the OMI in the 1850s, has for decades now served the Gay Village near Montreal’s historic Old Port in a very pro-LGBTQ fashion. It claims to be a Catholic assembly that “advocates freedom, inclusiveness and reflection in today’s Church.” While respectfully acknowledging “the force of the great Catholic tradition”, under its pastor, Fr. Yoland Ouellet, it professes “to live our faith in an adult and responsible way by agreeing to dialogue on all matters that require pastoral and ethical reflections, always with the aim of taking personal and community decisions rooted in the Gospel.”

Matthew Richardson, formerly of Cirque Du Soleil, recently produced a dance routine and asked to film it in the church, including the sanctuary. It is a homoerotic routine, tastefully done as such things go, to Leonard Cohen’s moving (and widely covered) song “Hallelujah”. Permission was granted and the film released. A story appeared shortly after in the San Diego Gay and Lesbian News (SDGLN), which noted that this is the first installment of five in Richardson’s CircusQueer Project. The idea sprang from “a conversation he had with his mother about people of faith using scripture and sermons as expressions of hate”:

“I started thinking about all the protesters with hate signs that I see at every Pride,” explains Richardson. “I was thinking about all the hate messages I received after my first LGBTQ creation ‘The Arrow‘ (many using their religion as their reasoning) and immediately I thought I wanted to address this. My video ‘Hallelujah’ is a response to anyone who uses their beliefs as a weapon. It’s meant to be a gentle reminder that no matter what we believe in, we can still choose kindness towards those we don’t understand.”

The SDGLN remarks that “one might think leaders of the stoic and sanctimonious space would not welcome an intimate performance by two men expressing their love for one another, but the dancers are only its heart, the church its body, taking on perhaps the most important role in the video: An example of inclusivity through servanthood.” It notes Richardson’s pleasure that no impediment was placed in his way in this “incredible space that does a lot of outreach for the LGBTQ community in Montreal.” Indeed, says Richardson, “they welcomed me, my message, and our creation with open arms.”

In view of the hate and rejection his Queer community faces, Richardson says he hopes that others “will watch and question if they need to consider more kindness and understanding towards those who are different.” As for religion, they also may be different, but they are not so very different on his view:

I believe in all religions, we are all essentially worshiping the same thing just with different names and in different ways. So I prefer to reflect and give thanks to my ‘creator,’ rather than pretend to know exactly who or what that force actually is.

When a controversy broke around this story, the Archdiocese announced a new policy that would require pastors to seek permission for such things and indicated that nothing would be granted permission that did not conform to the Church’s own purpose and mission, which this apparently did not. No disciplinary action was mentioned – that seems to be reserved for priests who speak out on the other side, to judge by what happened in the nearby Archdiocese of Kingston – nor any remedial action related to the apparent desecration of the sanctuary of Saint-Pierre-Apôtre.

The new policy, sensible as it may be, does not substitute for doing what actually needs to be done, which is to face the question as to whether this parish still serves the Church’s dominical mission per Matthew 28 or whether it has invented its own private and contrary mission in league with the LGBTQ movement. If that is so, and it looks to be so, then the pastoral staff should be removed, with or without OMI approval, and a pastor installed who is willing and able to bring the gospel committed to the Church, in all its glorious contradiction of this present world, to the Gay Village.

But that of course would involve massive resistance, for which the Archdiocese is not prepared. Its unwillingness or inability to bring this parish into line is just one instantiation of a problem faced in almost every archdiocese in North America. Those who think like Richardson (of which there are many even in holy orders) take over a parish and utilize it as a base camp for changing the Church. Faithful bishops need to get to grips with the reality here, seeking the wisdom and mustering the courage to act decisively in removing these camps, which are in reality outposts of a foreign mission.

Why do they not do so? In some cases, because they secretly share Richardson’s view that we are all worshipping the Unknown God as best we can. In many cases, however, because they fear the men of the land of Canaan, or rather the land of Sodom. There are so many priests and laity within the Church who have allied themselves, or would ally themselves, with the enormous forces outside the Church who champion the LGBTQ cause, that they fear they would be routed. They also know that many of their fellow clergy would be ‘outed’ in that rout. And there seems to be no Joshua or Caleb or Gideon or David among them capable of persuading them to carry the fight for the soul of the Church, trusting in God to give the victory. Nor have they any support from Rome to carry the fight. Witness what Archbishop Paglia has been given permission to do with the John Paul II Institute.

So the wilderness journey of the Church continues, as God apparently waits for this unbelieving generation to die off – this generation that, all things considered, is content to see the Church turned into a chaplaincy for the ‘gay’ culture and just about any other popular culture that comes along with its own counterfeit gospel. That includes the euthanasia culture, as I pointed out in my essay “Discernment of Situation”, which will only help it die off all the more quickly.

But why am I using military imagery, you might ask – is that not just what Richardson is artistically critiquing? He says he is offering “a response to anyone who uses their beliefs as a weapon,” a gentle and beautiful response that bespeaks understanding and forgiveness. And here I am talking of war! Have I missed his point entirely?

I have not missed it. Art, too, can be a weapon and that is exactly how Richardson is using it, with material cooperation from Saint-Pierre-Apôtre. (Paglia’s former cathedral in Terni might have served better, but perhaps in one of the remaining installments?) I understand why he would do so. But what Richardson does, in fact, does not greatly concern me. I have known other gifted and persuasive people, not a few in my own profession, who take their view that God cannot be known for who or what he is in truth, not even by Jesus Christ. That was John Hick’s view, for example, and Professor Hick also weaponized it in his own genteel way, as have Catholic scholars and prelates.

No, it is what the Church does that concerns me. And what the Church does not do that it ought to do, and must do if it is really to be and to remain the Church of Jesus Christ. Namely, fight back, “with genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute” (2 Cor. 6). A fearful Church, a Church afraid of being routed, is the Church of Simon Peter the denier of Christ, not of Saint Peter the Apostle.

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About Dr. Douglas Farrow 27 Articles
Douglas Farrow is Professor of Theology and Ethics at McGill University, and the author of several books including Theological Negotiations: Proposals in Soteriology and Anthropology (Baker Academic, 2018) and a new commentary on Thessalonians (Brazos, 2020).


  1. This is what he said, in regards to same-sex sexual relationships, and thus same-sex sexual acts, and he is acting accordingly:

    If there is a union of a private nature, there is neither a third party, nor is society affected. Now, if the union is given the category of marriage, there could be children affected. Every person needs a male father and a female mother that can help shape their identity.”- Jorge Bergoglio, denying The Sanctity of the marital act and the fact that God, The Most Holy And Undivided Blessed Trinity, Is The Author Of Love, Of Life, And Of Marriage, Through The Unity Of The Holy Ghost.

    “1849 Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. It wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity. It has been defined as “an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law.”121
    1850 Sin is an offense against God: “Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in your sight.”122 Sin sets itself against God’s love for us and turns our hearts away from it. Like the first sin, it is disobedience, a revolt against God through the will to become “like gods,”123 knowing and determining good and evil. Sin is thus “love of oneself even to contempt of God.”124 In this proud self- exaltation, sin is diametrically opposed to the obedience of Jesus, which achieves our salvation.125”

    “Reflecting on the new permissive attitude of some bishops toward homosexuality, Fr. Murray condemned homosexual acts in blunt terms.
    “A relationship based on sodomy is intrinsically evil,” Murray said. “You don’t sodomize someone and do a good act. That’s an immoral act.”

    “For the Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter that by His revelation they might make known new doctrine, but that by His assistance they might inviolably keep and faithfully expound the Revelation, the Deposit of Faith, delivered through the Apostles. “

  2. Dear Dr. Farrow,
    I enjoyed your balanced article. I am perplexed myself that Spiritual Works of Mercy are now called Hate. The obstinate, who wish to remain ignorant in their sin and refuse to learn Who God really Is, disagree with Church doctrine based on the natural law, created by God. Why are they obsessed with remaining in the Church and destroying it from within, when their numbers would easily allow them to form their own assembly? My answer is, that the diabolic is playing many of those sinners like a maestro plays a violin. The rest, mostly clerical impostors, just like living off the Church’s wealth and the faux status the rank provides them. Jesus is the Way, the TRUTH and the Life, He will not be mocked by the devil nor our fallen nature. I have my own sins that I have to overcome and I don’t HATE the spiritual advisors trying to help me live closer to Christ and find/experience the everlasting salvation Jesus won for us! God is the Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier revealed as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
    God bless,

  3. Sorry, but I stopped reading at the description of that evil, obscene performance as “… tastefully done as such things go.” Unbelievable.

    We are discussing this scandal on the Catholic Truth blog in the context of the decline of belief in the Real Presence – clearly, nobody who believes in the Real Presence would have given permission for such evil to be performed in the Presence of Our Lord – or participate in any way.

    I have today written to both the Archbishop and the priest – in the light of the huge number of child abuse scandals, male on male – to ask if they are homosexuals, because it’s unthinkable that anyone who is not of that inclination would permit such behaviour in a Catholic sanctuary. I have also written to the local press since Canada has a large Scots-origin population. Where, I wonder, is the Catholic population of Montreal, to permit such shocking sacrilege?

    “Tastefully done”? I doubt if Our Lord thinks so.

    • You’re both overreacting and missing the forest for the trees. Dr. Farrow’s point is plainly both contextual and more than a bit dry; in other words, it could have been far worse and more blatant, but it’s still an egregious event. So why stop reading? Are orthodox Catholics today so thin-skinned and unable to handle, well, anything at all?

      • Carl, thank you for your reply.

        I think the majority of the population, and not just in the blogosphere, would agree with your assessment of me as “over-reacting” and “missing the forest for the trees.” I’m widely regarded as an “extremist” in these post-Vatican II days.

        To take the “forest for the trees” first, however, with respect, no – I didn’t miss the point. I realised that the author would be coming down against the use of the sanctuary of a Catholic church for such an obscene act. I knew that the article would terminate with a message of disapproval about that depraved dance – that is revealed in the headline, after all. So, no, I didn’t really “miss the forest for the trees” by not reading the entire article right up. I have now read it, by the way.

        As for “over-reacting” – yes. By today’s standards – I am often told – I am an extremist, as I’ve already confessed. Mea culpa.

        And I have long concluded that, to NOT be an extremist, to NOT “over-react” to such scandals, I need to focus on becoming more “reasonable”, more “balanced”. As you say, Dr Farrow’s point is, essentially, that the obscene dance could have been far worse and more blatant. Personally, not having any knowledge of the sorts of activities that go on in the world of the depraved LGBT+++ “community”, I wouldn’t know that. I just know that pseudo-sexual activity between people of the same sex is unnatural and thus to make it the subject of “art/dance” and fit for performance before the Blessed Sacrament is hugely offensive to God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, at least by my extremist interpretation of St Paul’s warnings about endangering purity of body and soul, and the writings of saints on the topic; St Catherine of Siena springs to mind (us girls have to stick together) because she revealed that even the devils are so nauseated by homosexual sin that, having achieved the temptation, they slink away in horror, unable to watch the act.

        So, whether or not the dance could have been worse, isn’t really the point. Such depravity is a slap in the face to the Creator and it could NEVER be “tastefully done, as these things go”? Except in the eyes of those who are – at some level – spiritually blind, with all due respect to the author of the article. I should clarify that by saying that we are all, to a greater or lesser extent, desensitised to the gravity of sexual sins these days, due to the way we are bombarded with sexual talk and behaviour through the media at every turn. The simplest commercial advertisement is turned into a sex-message these days. Yet, the great saints tell us that if we could see the enormity of the smallest sin, as seen through the eyes of God, we would be horrified.

        My preference is always for a writer of matters relating to the current unprecedented crisis in the Church is to get to the point right away and stay there. Leave the diplomatic niceties to the political class; they don’t have the truth on their side so they need to resort to careful use of language to present a “balanced” case, to appear to be a “reasonable” man or woman. We need to call a spade a spade, a sin a sin and a depravity a depravity. I’d merely add a final word to say that, in my view, for Catholic writers, albeit with the best of intentions, to preface an article about a video as obscene as this one, with a remark that it is “tastefully done as these things go” is, in fact, to contribute to the further desensitising of the Catholic population. We must resist that danger at all costs.

        Anyway, sorry, this is turning into a lecture. Not my intention. Let’s stand and sing two verses of Faith of our Fathers!

    • Absolutely agree. There is nothing tasteful about desecration of holy ground let alone the body and blood of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

  4. There truly will be a schism in the Church…a faithful minority remnant and a perfidious larger group that will call itself “catholic” meaning it will universally embrace every kind of perversion and anti Gospel way. They’ll use the name of “christ” but it is not the Christ of Tradition or Scripture.

    • Father,

      Will all due respect, that schism has already taken place and has been IN place since the end of the Second Vatican Council.

      I have a friend was present in Rome during the Council and who – on his return – used to write letters regularly to the Vatican, everything copied to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, revealing the disobedience of our bishops and the various liturgical abuses and other scandals being embedded in the Church in Scotland. At the top of every letter he wrote “Regarding the De Facto Schism of the Catholic Church in Scotland”.

      In all of the replies he has received over the years, not once has any prelate challenged his assertion that we, here in Scotland (and now widespread across the world) have in de facto schism from the Faith of our Fathers.

      • typo – final paragraph should read: “In all of the replies he has received over the years, not once has any prelate challenged his assertion that we, here in Scotland (and now widespread across the world), are already in de facto schism from the Faith of our Fathers.

  5. Our ecclesial culture has succumbed to an intellectual artistic finesse that neither typifies saintliness nor reflects the divinity, revealed suffering on the Cross martyred to by the Apostles. Except for John who ended aged on Patmos forewarning of false prophesy ‘mysterious’ wisdom. Satan is far more clever than contemporary sages whose presumed sagacity put them in his hip pocket. Not a matter of discernment this one. Sacrilege is sacrilege. My sorrow is for the perpetrators more so for the priests who will have a dear price to pay. Mercy is Christ’s appeal for repentance Justice is the Father’s sentence. Those who have been charged with more will forfeit the higher cost.

  6. Homosexuality is not the gravest sin all by itself but it is the most incredibly demonically fertile sin that is able to lift, enable, promote, “sanctify” and justify all heinous sin like no other sin has been able to do ever by itself. They don’t kill the body or society directly but they kill the mind, heart, soul and spirit, and so falsely claim they don’t do any damage whatsoever to society.

    By yielding to or supporting homosexuality or both, people so gradually become (as is obvious everywhere to see today) progressively empty shells where all kinds of sin, perversions, lunacy, stupidity, imbecility and self-destruction reign, and are then celebrated as amazing freedom and power. They repeatedly stab their own spiritual hearts with insane delight and then say: “Look! No harm done! Do the same!” Homosexuality destroys the core of our God-given gender identity and with it our God-given heart, turning us from humans to sinful beasts.

    It’s time for the Clergy and all of us to be so impressed, scared, discouraged, dehumanized and coerced by this sinful glorification predators. Ancient Rome wasn’t destroyed by lead in the water pipes but by homosexual lead in the pipes of their brains, hearts, souls, and spirit. Same with us now! Time to follow the True God-Man Jesus not the “untouchable” false-god-gays!! False idols must be cast down low: “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5).

  7. Thank you, Dr. Farrow. It goes back to original sin, doesn’t it? “Eritis sicut dii scientes bonum et malum (‘Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil, Gen. 3:5), All humans attempt to create his own God when judging” – Blaise Pascal. I pray everyday for future, strong Catholic men and women who have the fortitude and courage to resist this gathering Army of Satan; What is so discouraging is hear how many soldiers of Satan are wearing clerical collars. Help us Holy Spirit!

  8. This hostility toward gay people is the reason why the Catholic Church is becoming increasingly irrelevant in the world today. Parishes like these, with an inclusive attitude, are the ones that will survive in the future. This church should be applauded for this video, not criticized.

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