Rev. Antonio Osorio, a well-known priest in the diocese of British Columbia who championed the cause of same-sex blessings in the church, has resigned from his post after admitting to sexual misconduct.
The diocese issued a statement Sept. 5 that Mr. Osorio, rector of St. Saviour’s church, had been suspended from his duties pending an investigation into allegations he had violated the church’s sexual misconduct policy. His resignation was announced Sept. 14.
The diocese did not elaborate on the nature of the complaint filed against Mr. Osorio, who came to Canada as a refugee fleeing political persecution in Colombia. Mr. Osorio was unavailable for comment. Local newspapers in Victoria said the church’s parishioners were “devastated” by the news.
Widely recognized in his community for his advocacy for the poor, he also grabbed headlines last July for blessing four same-sex couples at his church, saying “What I did was consistent with the call for justice in this parish.” The diocesan bishop, James Cowan, did not discipline Mr. Osorio, stating that he had merely conducted a “general blessing” of members of his parish, but warned him not to conduct such blessings again.
Rev. David Opheim has been appointed interim priest-in-charge for the parish, which had flourished under Mr. Osorio’s leadership.
Then-diocesan bishop Barry Jenks appointed Mr. Osorio to St. Saviour’s in 1999 with a mandate to reach out to the growing minority community in downtown Victoria. In recent years, Mr. Osorio described St. Saviour’s as “a very informal, Anglo-Catholic liberal, open-minded church,” that includes not just whites but Hispanic, African, Filipino and Japanese immigrants.
The diocese said it would consult with parishioners on how to continue the parish’s programs, which include the Rainbow Kitchen, which provides lunch to single mothers and their children three times a week; St. Saviour’s also has a night shelter for the homeless.