After learning that Archbishop Terence Finlay, who fired him in 1991 for maintaining a homosexual relationship, had recently performed a same-sex wedding, Rev. James Ferry has said that the church owes him an apology and that it should now restore his licence as a priest.
“I was quite stunned,” Mr. Ferry said when asked about his reaction to the news. He added: “On the one hand, I think it’s great. I applaud (Archbishop) Finlay for doing it. I’m glad; even though it’s late, it’s a positive development. On the other hand, I’m still an outcast. I’m still without licence.”
Mr. Ferry, a Toronto civil servant, has an informal arrangement with the diocese, allowing him to celebrate the eucharist and preach under the supervision of the Rev. Sara Boyles, the incumbent at Toronto’s Church of the Holy Trinity.
“I’ve been very clear that what happened to me was very abusive. I think that the church owes me an apology and so do other people,” he said. “It’s a matter of principle. I’m not looking for employment. It’s about sending the signal that the church is a safe place for gays and lesbians.” Mr. Ferry said that when the news broke about Archbishop Finlay, he received a flurry of e-mails, mostly saying, “It’s great that he’s (Archbishop Finlay) done this. But what about the terrible injustice done to Jim?”
In 1991, Mr. Ferry, then priest of St. Philip’s in Unionville, Ont., had revealed his homosexual relationship to Archbishop Finlay, who subsequently asked him to resign. When Mr. Ferry refused, Archbishop Finlay fired him and placed him under inhibition, banning him from exercising his priesthood in the diocese of Toronto. A seldom-used Bishop’s Court later upheld Mr. Ferry’s dismissal after a trial that generated international media coverage.
When the new diocesan bishop, Colin Johnson, was elected in 2004, Mr. Ferry said that he and other priests who had lost their licences were encouraged to discuss their status with him. He said that he had spoken to Bishop Johnson about his status twice, but no action has been taken. “I don’t think it’s politically expedient to give me back my licence,” said Mr. Ferry.
Stuart Mann, the diocese’s communications manager, said Bishop Johnson would not comment on his conversations with Mr. Ferry, “which he considers to be private.”