A Catholic priest in Missouri has denied Holy Communion to a woman at her mother’s funeral because she is in a lesbian relationship.
Carol Parker and Josephine Martin were told that they would not be welcome at the funeral service after the parish priest, Father Benjamin Kneib, read about the relationship in the obituary for Parker’s mother. Both women are longstanding members of the Church, and Parker has served as a lector, a cantor and has sung in the choir. However this counted for nothing after the priest got word of Parker’s homosexuality, as she told FOX News:
“He had called me the day of the rosary and said he wouldn’t be able to give us communion because of our same-sex relationship. It was very important to me, my last opportunity to worship here at the church with her.”
Parker’s partner, Josephine Martin, chastised the priest for the capricious way he had dealt with the issue:
“To be singing in the choir and be lectors, and everything, it’s all God. He just took it away in a second. I just really don’t understand where his heart is.”
The two women have vowed never to attend the church again.
Pope Francis has tried to strike a more conciliatory and less judgmental tone on issues like homosexuality. His comments have been welcome by progressive and liberal Catholics, especially when compared to the rigid and reactionary attitude of his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI. His most significant intervention came last year early in his papacy when he told a reporter:
[box type=”shadow”]”If someone is gay, who searches for the Lord and has goodwill, who am I to judge? The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this very well. It says they should not be marginalized because of this (orientation) but that they must be integrated into society.”[/box]
It was not clear if these comments were a reflection of Francis’ personal opinion, or a shift in the position of the Church. What we do know for sure is that the Vatican is still a highly factional, political and bureaucratic institution. It is also an officially homophobic and sexist one. It firmly opposes same-sex marriage, the ordination of women as priests and the use of contraception.
The priest in Missouri may have been following the teachings of the church when it comes to homosexuals, but as in so many cases the official view of the Church puts it at odds with its congregation.