Friday, August 11, 2006

Out of Africa

1). The Rev. Fred Daley, 59, and a Roman Catholic priest, was scheduled to be on an AIDS mission to Africa last Sunday. He had undergone months of training and was preparing to spend more than a year in Lesotho, where one-third of the population suffers from AIDS. But on July 18, Daley was suddenly withdrawn from his mission to Lesotho by its organizers, Catholic Relief Services, because:

A. He refused to try to convert villagers to Catholicism.
B. He wanted to teach villagers basic sex education and provide condoms.
C. He was a member of a white supremacist group as a teen.
D. He is a gay.

D: He is gay, but celibate. Michael Wiest, CRS chief executive officer, and Dave Piriano, a CRS vice president, said that it was not Daley's sexuality that had prompted their organization to take him off the mission. They said that what had concerned them was that Daley was a public advocate of gay rights.

“Lesotho [located deep in the southern tip of Africa] is a country of 1 million poor African peasants,” Piriano said. “There are different societal norms there.”

“Had we known earlier, we could have avoided so much controversy,” Wiest said. “It is not that he is a gay celibate priest, but that he is a well-known activist throughout the United States. … We became concerned about his celebrity in the American dialogue distracting from the mission.” Oh really? How likely is it that anyone living deep in the southern tip of Africa would have any knowledge of a well-meaning priest’s activism thousands of miles away in the United States? Not very.


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