27 October 2014

Church Reinstates Minister Defrocked For Helping His Son

When I was researching gender-reassignment surgeons, I read about Dr. Stanley Biber, whose practice my surgeon, Dr. Marci Bowers, continued.

Dr. Biber worked at Mount San Rafael Hospital in Trinidad, Colorado--a facility founded by the Sisters of Charity.  Even though the hospital was in the process of being taken over by the Trinidad Area Health Association by the time Biber started performing the surgeries in 1968, there were still Sisters associated with the facility.  Also, some members of the TAHA were, to put it mildly, conservative.  So Dr. Biber had to conduct his surgeries "underground", so to speak.  

Given that he had established his reputation as a surgeon, having worked at the hospital for several years before that first GRS, he was able to convince anyone who questioned him that he was, in fact, doing other surgeries.

I thought of that as I read about Rev. Frank Schaefer.  Granted, what he did "under the radar" was very different from what Dr. Biber did.  But the Methodist minister suffered in a way that Dr. Biber could have.

Rev. Schaefer secretly performed a same-sex marriage--his son's-- in Massachusetts.  At least, it remained secret for a few years.  Then, a member of his conservative Pennsylvania congregation got wind of it and filed a complaint, which led to his being defrocked--even though he promised never to perform another same-sex marriage.

Given the climate of the time and place in which he worked, Dr. Biber could well have lost his hospital privileges--or even his medical license.   That he didn't is--if you'll indulge me in using a religious term--a miracle.

Now the judicial council of the United Methodist Church has ruled that the Pennsylvania church jury was wrong to defrock Rev. Schaefer.  The council based it ruling on "technical grounds", but emphasized that their decision should not be interpreted as support for gay marriage.


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