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A local pro-life organization protested the performance Sunday of a gay men's chorus at a Catholic church.

Representatives of the Buffalo Regional Right to Life Committee said it was inappropriate for Blessed Trinity Church to allow homosexuals to sing at the church because of the Catholic Church's position against homosexuality.

"The homosexual lifestyle is immoral, and a gay group is not appropriate for a church," said George L. Kraus, vice president of the Buffalo Regional Right to Life Committee.

But he said the group's primary concern was with the church for allowing any entertainment, arguing that "there should never be conversation, laughing or applause" inside a church.

A spokesman for the Diocese of Buffalo pointed out that Sunday's concert fell within the guidelines issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship at the Vatican for music in churches other than during liturgical services.

Seven protesters marched outside the Leroy Avenue church on the city's East Side, including a representative of Morality in Media of Western New York, before the afternoon concert by the Buffalo Gay Men's Chorus and the Choir of the Unitarian-Universalist Church.

The joint performance, titled "Glorious Jazz, Gospel and Sacred Music," raised funds for Habitat for Humanity and the church, which is trying to maintain an aging building known for its Old World workmanship and fine materials.

"We're just trying to bring attention to a place that is struggling to preserve this beautiful architecture," said the Rev. George Reger, pastor.

The group has performed in other churches, but never before in a Catholic church, said Hanford Searl, a singer in the 70-member chorus.

The protesters expressed disappointment that the diocese did not heed their request to cancel the concert.

"You have the authority to cancel this event before it becomes yet another scandal. After the irreparable damage caused by refusal of the hierarchy to confront the homosexual predators in the church for decades, I would hope that a simple phone call from you to this parish can be expected," Stasia Zoladz Vogel, president of the regional committee, wrote in an April 19 letter to Bishop Edward Kmiec.

The Catholic position on homosexuality is that homosexual behavior is not approved, but the orientation is accepted.

In a prepared statement, the Diocese of Buffalo said it was made aware of the concert only in the last few days, and measures were taken to ensure that the performers would not advance any cause before, during or after the concert.

"We are all people of God, and everyone should be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity, without being judgmental," the statement said.


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