Priest resigns following protests over his criticism of a gay author

BEAL CITY (AP) — A Catholic priest has resigned as pastor of a church in a small central Michigan community, the result of weeks of controversy following his publicly expressed regret that a gay author had read a book to preschool children.

Gay rights activists and others have held regular protests outside St. Joseph the Worker Church in Beal City, 85 miles north of Lansing.

The Rev. Thomas Held’s departure as pastor was announced this week by the bishop of the Saginaw Catholic Diocese, The Morning Sun reported.

Held “has come to the decision that it would be impossible for him to bring unity to the parish,” said Bishop Robert Gruss, who called it an “unfortunate situation.”

There has been tension since Held went on Facebook on March 13 to respond to a parish preschool visit days earlier by local author Dominic Thrasher, who read from his book, “The Adventures of Cece and the Sheriff.” The main characters are puppies.

Held did not mention Thrasher by name, but he said a “guest who does not represent the values of our Catholic faith” had read a book to children.

He said a teacher was in the room at all times and that a “new vetting system” would be put in place.

“I came into a classroom to share the love and joy I have for what I created. Why my sexuality has anything to do with that — anything — it makes me mad,” Thrasher told WXMI-TV.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today