August 14, 2010; Source: | Some call it a strict interpretation of Catholic doctrine, but a gay man qualified to serve as an officer and board member of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul of St. Louis says the fact he can’t become its president is a double standard. In a letter he sent earlier this month to other society members, Jeffrey Goldone wrote, “I was told that I could not run for president because my living relationship goes against Catholic moral teaching.”

Goldone, who was previously nominated for president in May, then dropped from the ballot several weeks later, sent the letter as part of a petition drive he is starting to change the Society’s rules. According to the website, the petition reads, “We believe that active gay men and women bring a multitude of talents and abilities to our society that are to be shared with all, especially those who are in need.”

Goldone also wants to reconcile existing Society rules that he believes are in conflict. On one hand a section of the rules say, “Vincentians oppose discrimination of all kinds,” but elsewhere they read, the “Society recognizes the right and duty of the diocesan bishop to confirm that none of its activities is contrary to Catholic faith or morals.” Zip Rzeppa, the group’s executive director, said Goldone’s sexual orientation cost him the opportunity to become president. “He disqualified himself for the position of president by choosing to live a lifestyle of illicit sexual union, which falls outside the teachings of the Catholic Church, and outside the qualifications of the Society’s international Rule.”

Goldone says even though his petition drive could hurt the organization, that’s not his intent. Instead, as the petition states, there’s a higher purpose at issue: “If the organization is truly a Christian organization, it must not discriminate against anyone.” Amen.—Bruce Trachtenberg