An openly gay pastoral associate from St John the Evangelist Catholic Church in San Diego has resigned following a spate of homophobic abuse, including vandals breaking into church’s offices and spray-painting “no fags” on a wall Oct. 15.
The church’s office, located in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood, was desecrated with hate graffiti, the Los Angeles Blade reported last week. Aaron Bianco, a Pastoral Associate with the parish, said that he had returned to the office Monday, Oct. 16 to find an anti-gay slur spray painted on an office wall.
Bianco handed in his resignation on Oct. 19 to the archbishop of the diocese, Robert McElroy. In an email to friends and associates, he said he had “endured physical and emotional violence from groups like Church Militant and LifeSite News for the past year and a half.” The harassment included slashed tires, death threats, attacks outside Mass, and “hundreds of letters, phone calls and emails.”
Bianco said he was stepping down “out of fear for my family and myself,” reported the National Catholic Reporter. “It didn’t stop there. I began to get death threats and threats made against the parish,” Bianco was quoted as saying.
A Catholic Monsignor, who is a vocal pro-LGBTQ supporter, Rev. James Martin, condemned the vandalism in a Facebook post. Martin, whose stance on LGBTQ equality has sometimes been met with hostility from various parts of the Catholic Church, said the incident was the “result of the relentless homophobia and hatred being peddled in some quarters of the Catholic Church today.”
The Los Angeles Blade reached out to the diocese for comment but a church spokesman said there would be no comment as Bishop McElroy was unavailable.
Reporting by the National Catholic Reporter and the staff of the Los Angeles Blade