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NEWARK, NJ: Former N.J. Governor McGreevey embraces the Episcopal Church

Former N.J. Governor McGreevey embraces the Episcopal Church
Lifelong Catholic lends support to group that promotes gay, lesbian issues

BY JEFF DIAMANT AND MARK MUELLER
Star-Ledger Staff

NEWARK (December 6, 2005)--Former Gov. James E. McGreevey, who struggled to square his Catholic faith with his political positions even before he declared himself a "gay American" last year, has been regularly attending services in the Episcopal church.

A former altar boy educated in Catholic schools, McGreevey, 48, said at a Hackensack fundraiser last night that for the past several months, he's been splitting time between the Church of the Holy Comforter in Rahway and St. Batholemew's Church in Manhattan.

McGreevey, a Rahway resident, would not say whether his attendance at the two Episcopal churches signaled a break from the Roman Catholic Church, and he declined to answer additional questions posed by a reporter. Advertisement

"I'm just here to support a good cause tonight," he said.

McGreevey was a "guest of honor" along with actor Matthew Broderick at the Bergen County event, held to raise cash for "Claiming the Blessing," a national group that promotes a greater acceptance of gays and lesbians in the Episcopal church.

About 20 people paid $500 apiece to attend the event, a wine and hors d'oeuvre affair held at a 28-room mansion owned by Matthew Piermatti, a lawyer active in the Episcopal Diocese of Newark. Broderick's sister, the Rev. Janet Broderick, is rector of Grace Church Van Vorst in Jersey City.

McGreevey was invited to the fundraiser by Louie Crew, a prominent figure in the Episcopal church and the founder of Integrity, an Episcopal gay and lesbian group.

Crew, an East Orange resident, said he thought to invite McGreevey after learning the former governor wanted to become more involved in the gay community.

"I thought this was a wonderful fit for him," Crew said. "He's not dead in the water. He'll still be doing something political somewhere."

Asked whether it was appropriate to honor McGreevey, who resigned in scandal last year after publicly acknowledging an extramarital affair with another man, Crew said McGreevey had made a "horrible mistake" but that he had "paid a huge price."

While McGreevey never named his lover, aides identified him as the governor's former homeland security adviser, Golan Cipel.

Crew, in making a toast to Claiming the Blessing last night, touched on McGreevey's exit from government and on the long-running speculation, dating to his days as mayor of Woodbridge, that he might be gay.

Addressing McGreevey, Crew said, "You know what it means to go from presumed to no longer presumed."

END

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