Bishop comments after objection to gay men chairing event

Bishop Michael Warfel. Photo by The Billings Gazette.

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A priest who called for a boycott of a fundraiser for Billings Catholic Schools because two of the event's co-chairs are homosexual men could have better handled the situation, according to the bishop of the Great Falls/Billings Diocese.

Bishop Michael Warfel told The Billings Gazette that although he does not think the Rev. Ryan Erlenbush's comments were out of bounds, they could have been better communicated.

"He's a Catholic priest holding up Catholic principles," Warfel said. "The issue is not the principle. The issue is how things were communicated. I would judge there are better ways to handle it."

Erlenbush, of Great Falls, told his Facebook followers last week that his alma mater had "lost its way" and wondered why any Christian would attend the May 5 Mayfair fundraiser.

"Why would any Catholic (Indeed, any Christian) attend or donate to Mayfair 2018?" he asked in the post. "What does a Catholic School have to do before people say 'enough' and take their kids (and their money) elsewhere?"

He concluded by saying, "I'm an alumnus of the Billings Catholic Schools and I say, 'enough.'"

Erlenbush has since removed the post.

Warfel told the newspaper the Catholic church's view on homosexuality is based in Scripture, and he called Erlenbush "a good priest." But the bishop also said he prefers that priests generally not call for boycotts.

The annual Mayfair Gala Dinner and Auction is the school system's largest fundraiser of the year. It is expected to raise close to $500,000 and draw about 650 people.

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The Gayly. April 23, 2018. 10:10 a.m. CST.