March 19, 2005 in Nation/World

Club owner won’t get Catholic funeral

Associated Press

SAN DIEGO – San Diego’s Roman Catholic bishop has denied funeral rites to a man who owned a bar and a dance club popular with gays, citing a clash with the church’s moral teachings.

John McCusker, who was gay, died Sunday of congestive heart failure at a ski resort, his family said.

Arrangements had been made to hold services at the Immaculata Catholic Church on the University of San Diego campus, McCusker’s alma mater that is affiliated with the church.

But San Diego Bishop Robert Brom decided none of the 98 Catholic churches in San Diego or Imperial counties could provide funeral rites for McCusker, who was 31.

Chancellor Rodrigo Valdivia said the church’s decision was not related to McCusker’s sexual orientation.

“His business is adult entertainment, which is inconsistent with Catholic teaching,” Valdivia said. “People would be scandalized that the church granted a funeral to a person who had this type of business activity.”

Valdivia cited a church canon that states “manifest sinners” are among those who cannot be granted funeral rites “without public scandal to the faithful.”

Other dioceses have sometimes denied funeral Masses for mobsters, including John Gotti. In other cases across the country, some priests accused of sexual abuse have been granted Catholic funeral services, including John Geoghan, the Boston Archdiocese former priest whose sex-abuse case helped spark a nationwide church scandal.

McCusker owned Club Montage, a nightclub popular with gays, and ReBar, a gay bar.

A memorial service for McCusker on Friday was moved to an Episcopal church in San Diego.

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