A New Democrat member of Parliament has been barred from involvement in church activities by a southwestern Ontario Catholic diocese for supporting same-sex marriage.
Bishop Ronald Fabbro of the Diocese of London admonished Windsor-Tecumseh MP Joe Comartin in a July 6 letter to priests, saying "a person who does not accept Catholic teaching on fundamental matters is disqualified from acting on behalf of the church in a public capacity."
Bishop Fabbro said the measure would remain in effect until Mr. Comartin has "a change of mind" in using the term marriage with reference to homosexual unions.
During parliamentary debate on Bill C-38 - the same-sex marriage bill - Mr. Comartin spoke in favour of its passage.
He had said he hoped that one day the Roman Catholic Church would recognize same-sex marriages, noting that the issue is about love and all couples' being treated equally.
"My recent comments expressed my sincere hope that some day the leadership of the Catholic Church would embrace a fuller sense of inclusion," he said in a release after hearing of Bishop Fabbro's letter.
He added that "the actions of Bishop Fabbro have deeply hurt and saddened myself and my family."
Mr. Comartin has been an altar server, administered the eucharist and taken part in fundraising projects for the church.
"These parish activities have been an important and meaningful part of my life," he said.
Mr. Comartin also recently taught marriage preparation courses with his wife but will no longer be able to do so.
"I have decided that Mr. Comartin is not to give marriage preparation sessions within this diocese," Bishop Fabbro wrote.
A spokesman for the diocese said Mr. Comartin will still be able to attend mass and receive communion.
Father Gerry Compeau, the pastor of Mr. Comartin's church, Our Lady of the Rosary in Windsor, Ont., said Mr. Comartin is "very friendly and courteous, and has a lot of respect for the clergy."
"But I think he has to realize, like I have to realize, that we follow the church's law, and I follow it and he should be following it."
Despite the rift between Mr. Comartin and the church, he remains hopeful of a resolution.
"I hope Bishop Fabbro will reconsider his actions," Mr. Comartin said. "In this spirit, I welcome a dialogue with the diocese, and will strive to not only provide a fuller understanding of my intentions but also do my best to understand Bishop Fabbro's intentions."
Another New Democrat MP from northern Ontario has also run afoul of the Catholic church over his support for the same-sex marriage bill.
Charlie Angus, who represents Timmins James-Bay, was told earlier this year by his parish priest that he could no longer take communion.