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Utah Priest will End Mass for Gays

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PARK CITY, Utah (AP) -- A Roman Catholic priest said he'll end a monthly Mass for gays and lesbians after criticism from some parishioners.

Although the Masses were sparsely attended, they were a "tremendously reaffirming experience," Monsignor Robert Bussen said.

He started the service in January at St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church. Some parishioners have complained that Bussen failed to explain the church's position on homosexuality and instead gave mixed messages during a sermon.

"This is not about Father Bob. He's a wonderful, caring man," parishioner Joseph Ozog said. "We just want to be sure that he's representing the views of the church."

According to Catholic Catechism, homosexual acts are "intrinsically disordered" and "under no circumstances can they be approved."

At the same time, homosexuals "must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity," the Catechism says.

Ozog and other critics wrote letters to the Vatican, Bishop John Wester, who arrives this month from San Francisco to lead the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake, and Monsignor Terrence Fitzgerald, the interim administrator.

There is no indication that church officials had a role in Bussen's decision to drop the Mass. The last will be March 17.

"He's not doing anything unorthodox," Fitzgerald said. "We have special Masses for youths, teens, elderly and Hispanic. Our bottom line is to care for the people, and that's what he's doing."

Bussen, who declined to discuss his sexual orientation, said he was trying to reach out to Catholics with gay family members.

"They will not tolerate any more rhetoric that attacks their children," he said.

He plans to lead a discussion at the church about homosexuality Thursday.

"We are not as open as I thought," Bussen said. "We have some growing up to do."

------ Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune,

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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