Thursday, March 1, 2012

That Lesbian Communion Thing: My Two Cents

See an update: More on That Lesbian Communion Thing

Plenty has been said and written about the woman who was denied Holy Communion at her mother’s funeral because the priest had been told she was living in an active homosexual relationship. (For the comic relief of a great parody, see The Idiot’s Guide to Catholic News.)

Barbara Johnson
My vote, for the record: I applaud the priest for having the testicular fortitude to do what he thought was the right thing. I also think that Dr. Ed Peters and Fr. Z are likely correct in saying that what the priest did probably was not the right way to handle that particular situation.

And I vote that the Archdiocese of Washington’s letter of apology to the woman is scandalous. (See the letter below, courtesy of The Deacon’s Bench.)

Here’s why: These sentences from the letter signed by Most Reverent Barry Knestout made me scoff out loud.

It is understandable that you and your family would expect the funeral of your mother to be a time of fond remembrance of her life and comfort from the Church in the midst of family grief. I am sorry that what should have been a celebration of your mother’s life, in light of her faith in Jesus Christ, was overshadowed by a lack of pastoral sensitivity.

“Fond remembrance of her life” at the funeral Mass?! I guess I thought a funeral Mass was supposed to be a time of prayer for God’s mercy on the soul of the deceased, as well as a farewell to the deceased and an opportunity to strengthen the faith of the mourners. I guess I thought the homily at a funeral Mass was supposed to be…well, first of all, just that: a homily. Not a eulogy given by a family member, which specifically forbidden by GIRM paragraph 382. No: a homily given by the priest (or deacon) that consoles the faithful, but also exhorts them to be aware that our time on earth is short, eternity lasts a lot longer than that, and we’d better keep our souls in good shape so that we do have a chance to make it to Heaven.

Come to think of it, though, I don’t know why I think those things. I don’t believe I’ve ever been to a funeral Mass that actually followed those rules.

But that’s beside the point. I know what a funeral Mass is supposed to accomplish, because I have read what the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the General Instruction of the Roman Missal have to say about it.

And that phrase, “a celebration of your mother’s life”…at the funeral Mass?! Ummm…I just don’t believe that a funeral Mass is supposed to “celebrate” a person’s life. The Mass is our liturgical vehicle for worshipping God. It’s our highest form of prayer. We pray for the deceased at the funeral Mass, because we do not assume that the deceased was perfect and went directly to Heaven. We essentially acknowledge that there were things about the person’s life that we don’t celebrate, and we ask God’s mercy on the deceased.

As for the priest’s “lack of pastoral sensitivity”…hmph. Naturally, the Archdiocese isn’t talking about how this priest was at least watching out for the soul of the woman to whom he denied Holy Communion. What kinder thing could he do than prevent her from receiving the Body and Blood of Our Lord unworthily, thus bringing condemnation on herself?

I wonder if any pastoral priest, monsignor, or bishop from the Archdiocese of Washington has taken the time and made the effort to talk to the woman about the fact that she is living in sin, that she should not present herself for Holy Communion, that there is a hell, and that even if the priest erred, she should, in her own Christian charity, forgive him.

Just sayin’.


  1. You're the first person I know of that has caught the "celebration of life" thingy. I cringed when I read that.

    Word is that she and her girlfriend spoke to the priest before the funeral and he advised her at that time to refrain from communion.

    Sounds like she was trying to make a point. I'm tired of homosexuals always having to "make a point" and then playing victim.

  2. "testicular fortitude" line EVAH.

    On this whole situation though...priests having those uncomfortable conversations and reminding people to pray for the soul of the deceased instead of canonizing them in the about the only way that funerals will be funerals again, instead of "celebrations of life".

    So good for the priest, and shame on the Bishop for not backing him up.

  3. "testicular fortitude" love it! Will go down in my book of great phrases.

  4. Miss Boyd:

    I'm afraid I must very strongly disagree with you on this single point: the priest absolutely did the right thing, at the right time. The dithering, "nice-guy" approach that everyone from Rome on down has been practicing for the past 80-90 years is NOT working. It is time to be direct, to be forceful and yet charitable. This priest was all three, but he was mostly charitable. For it is the height of charity to tell someone when he is wrong or headed in a wrong direction.

    It has been plausibly pointed out that this creature met with the priest privately before the mass and made her perversion more than clear to him, upon which he asked her to refrain from taking Communion. But even if that did not happen, and he knew her state in life, it was imperative for him to do what he did.

    As for the Chancery...I have had enough. Today I am writing the Apostolic Nuncio in Washington and I will demand that he inform the Bishop in question to publicly re-state the Church's teaching on this unnatural vice and that he apologize to the priest in question. I am not going to ask the Nuncio to take action; I am going to demand that he take action. I will do it with respect, of course. But as a Catholic I am entitled to see the Church defend the Faith.

    And everyone else reading this should do the same. And do it now, not later. Enough is enough.

  5. Permissiveness doesn't work in parenting and it doesn't work in the Church (or politics for that matter). However I do take issue with the previous writer's "that creature". That "creature" is a child of God and loved by Him just like the rest of us, and should be made welcome in the Church as long as they follow the rules in Church. Even if they are living a homosexual life style as long as they aren't flaunting it then they should be left alone to come and worship. Maybe that would give them the strength to leave that lifestyle. At Mass we should be focusing on God and ourselves not pointing the finger at others. The priest was right, he said the funeral Mass but denied her communion. No apology was right or necessary.

  6. Aged Parent--I think you and Dr. Boyd are in full agreement. She is on the side of the Priest, not the person who set him up


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