Two points. The article is manipulative, but that is to be expected from something called “The Advocate”. You can be sure that the article doesn’t tell us everything.
[NOT] Married gay man describes denial of communion at mother’s funeral Mass [Obergefell v. Hodges changes nothing regarding the Church’s understanding of marriage. Two men can’t be married.]
Tim Ardillo said he was standing next to his mother’s coffin leading his young son to receive a blessing when the priest presiding over the funeral Mass denied him communion.
The longtime Catholic [At this point in the article he is a “long time Catholic” while later he is described as being fallen away… I guess anyone is a “long time” Catholic if he was baptized and had a child’s exposure. Let’s go on…] said the priest told him it was because he married outside the church, but Ardillo doesn’t think that’s the whole story. [Umm… he attempted to marry a man, which I would say is “outside”.]
He believes he was denied the sacrament because, as is stated in his mother’s obituary, he is married to a man.
The priest in question, the Rev. Mark Beard, of St. Helena Catholic Church in Amite, did not return multiple calls seeking comment in the week following the July 10 funeral.
Ardillo said he has since received an apology from the Diocese of Baton Rouge, which directly oversees the Amite church, and a personal apology from New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond, though Aymond’s office declined to comment on the matter for this story. [Apologies indicate that the priest did something wrong. But there’s more to the story.]
The standing of gays and lesbians within the Catholic Church is complicated, with the church opposing same-sex marriage but counseling respect for LGBT people. [NO. The standing of homosexual people in the Church is NOT complicated. They are sinners in need of salvation just like everyone else. They, like all sinners, are called to reject sin and seek holiness while fostering virtues, just like everyone else.]
According to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, “homosexual inclination” is not a sin itself, [According to the Church’s teach homosexual inclinations are also objectively disordered. HERE] but “homosexual acts” are immoral and “always objectively sinful.” The conference also says people with a homosexual inclination should not be encouraged to speak openly about the matter [ummm….] and may be denied roles in the church. [Not all discrimination is unjust. For example, if I am a father of a sons 17 and 10, I might let the 17 yr old stay out till 11 but tell the 10 yr old that he must stay and and even go to bed. That’s discrimination, but it isn’t unjust. It is appropriate. Some discriminatory decisions are founded on what is best for person as well as for the community. No one will deny that there is also unjust discrimination. However, denial of Communion to a person who is publicly in such a persisting irregular state does not seem to be unjust discrimination.]
However, the bishops also say, “Church policies should explicitly reject unjust discrimination and harassment of any persons, including those with a homosexual inclination.” [Again, not all discrimination is unjust. Also, if it is a matter of public knowledge, even to the point that it is published in the local newspaper, that a person has simulated marriage with a person of the same sex, then applying the consequences of that act to the person involved does not constitute harassment. Repeatedly denouncing him from the pulpit would, but denial of Communion would not, so long as public scandal was still present.]
As for communion, Catholics should not receive communion if they have committed a “grave sin” to which they have not confessed and performed an act of contrition, according to the conference. [That’s right. However, there is another element. If the sin is public then there should be some kind of public act on the part of the penitent. This is a matter of justice. A private act of penance isn’t proportioned to the public damage that has been done. This is also the case for, for example, pro-abortion politicians.]
When asked about Ardillo’s case, the Diocese of Baton Rouge emphasized that the responsibility to comport with church teachings is on the person receiving the communion. [On the other hand, priests also have responsibilities regarding the Eucharist!]
“With respect to the specific matter raised, the Catholic Church expects that any individual Catholic who is in a marital situation which is not in conformity with its doctrines will not come forward to receive the body and blood of the Lord at Mass. [As far as the Church is concerned, two men cannot be in a marital situation. In this case we can only use “marital” very loosely. The divorced and civilly “remarried” are also not really married. We describe their situations only loosely as “marital” situations. ] For Catholics, reception of Holy Communion among other things is an expression of unity with the church’s teachings, including those about marriage,” the diocese wrote in a statement.
Diocese spokeswoman Donna Carville, a Eucharistic minister, [No. She might, however, be an “extraordinary minister of Holy Communion”.] said the diocese does not condone denial of communion to Catholics just because they are gay. [This is irrelevant. In this situation, he wasn’t denied Communion because he is homosexual!]
“That’s very surprising that he was denied communion. That just doesn’t happen. … We don’t deny people communion,” she said. [Ummm … “excommunication” means something. What do you want to bet she would be at peace with the denial of Communion to, say, Bp. Williamson, formerly of the SSPX?] “Who are we to judge whether they believe (the church’s teachings on the communion) or not? It’s between you and God.” [ARGH! “Belief” has nothing to do with this! “Belief” doesn’t entitle a person to receive Communion. The Orthodox “believe” in the validity of our Eucharist. Many who are still Protestant have come to believe. They are not admitted to the Eucharist. People who are in the state of mortal sin often still “believe” what the Church teaches, even everything the Church teaches! And, no, it isn’t just between a person and God: there’s this entity called The Church which has the authority from Christ to regulate all matters concerning administration of the sacraments.]
Being married outside the church should not be used to deny someone the Eucharist, said the Rev. Roger Keeler, executive coordinator of the Canon Law Society of America. [Ummm… if you are truly married outside the Church, then you should not be receiving Communion until your marriage is regularized. Of course that is impossible in the case of two men.]
As a practical matter, Keeler noted that a priest or Eucharistic minister can’t possibly know the marital standing of everybody in line. [Okay. Fine. But in this case the “marital status” of the man in question was a matter of public knowledge and had been published in the obituary in the newspaper.] He also raised more philosophical concerns.
“This is not a weapon. Communion is not a reward for good behavior,” he said. “It’s the food for weary souls.” [It’s a lot of other things too! And these are not mutually exclusive. And just what does that mean… “it isn’t a reward for good behavior”? If I am openly misbehaving in a grave and scandalous way, should I be admitted to the “pledge of future glory” without some sort of reconciliation with the community I have harmed by my actions? Sin harms not only the individual’s relationship with God, but also his relationship with the whole Church. In the case of private or “occult” sins, private penance and reconciliation through the Sacrament of Penance is enough, along with restitution if there are matters of justice involved. In the case of public offenses against God and His Church, then there are public consequences for the sake of repairing the harm that one has done. There is not only mercy involved in reconciliation, but also justice.]
He used an example of a priest who has read in the newspaper that a parishioner has embezzled millions of dollars. The woman may have atoned for her transgression, and even she should receive the sacrament if she puts out her hand, Keeler said. [This is not a good example. If she has atoned, that is “made amends, provided reparation”, and has been reconciled with God and the Church, there is no problem with Communion. In fact, it is a matter of joy that she has returned to the fold after straying so badly. A person who has not atoned for what she did has not been reconciled.]
“How am I to know that she is not in a state of grace?” he asked. [There is still the PUBLIC dimension, the damage of the scandal.]
A priest would find a few reasons to withhold a communion, Keeler said. It may be appropriate if the person is known to be of a different faith or has been excommunicated or formally left the church, he said. [Or is, as a matter of public knowledge, openly “married” to a person of the same sex! And, by the way, if you have “informally” left the Church you are probably in the state of mortal sin and need to be reconciled with the Church before you can receive Communion.]
He and the Baton Rouge Diocese agreed that, ideally, those issues should be resolved in private, rather than the communion line. [Sure… ideally… yes… not at the very moment of Holy Communion. But priests are often denied the chance to work things out ahead of time because the people involved have not been forthright about their situation. Thus, if the priest learns before the funeral, by reading the obit, that a child of the deceased is homosexually “married”, what is he supposed to do? Hopefully, he would have the time and the means to contact the person ahead of time and explain the situation. Sometimes there is a lack of time. Take for example, the case of Fr. Guarnizo who was confronted in the sacristy before a funeral. The priest also has a responsibility before God! He has to think also of his own soul and state before God when it comes to administration of the sacraments. Sacraments are not simply moments of affirmation.]
Ardillo said he would have stayed out of line if the matter had been broached before his mother’s funeral Mass. [There it is. I would then ask: Did he seek out the priest to inform him of his “marital” status? Or did he expect the priest to be psychic? Did he assume that everybody knew and if he weren’t contacted then everything was okay? Here we get into matters behind the scenes that this article doesn’t help us with. However, I assume that the priest had no idea until he read the obit and he didn’t have time or means to contact anyone in a timely fashion. Thus, he made the call as best he could with short time.]
He expected that receiving communion would be an “intimate, intimate experience” because his mother is with the Holy Spirit, and he could connect with her through participation in the Eucharist. [A few things here. First, we know that people grieve for their loved ones. However, funerals are not the moment to assume that your deceased loved one is in heaven, though we can hope so. Funerals are principally for prayers for the deceased, asking God’s mercy so that, if the person died in the state of grace, she can swiftly enter into God’s presence after as short a period of purification as possible, if necessary. Also, the purpose of Holy Communion is not to “connect” with your mother. Sure, reception of Communion is also a sign and means of unity with all who have gone before us and who live in the joy of the Beatific Vision, the Church Triumphant. We are in Communion with the Communion of saints. Moreover, one does not honor one’s dead by receiving Communion improperly.]
After the incident, he grabbed his husband’s hand and stormed out of the church, but a relative who is a lesbian coaxed him back in, saying the family needed him to be a leader. [A leader for… what?] Ardillo said he was also concerned about the message the denial would send to a younger gay family member who was at the Mass. [How about this: If you openly “marry” another man, there are consequences for your reception of the sacraments.]
Ardillo himself has drifted away from the church. [And yet an earlier statement in this piece suggested that he was more involved.] Though he now lives in Indiana, he said that as a boy he was an altar server at the very church where the funeral was held, and priests would frequently come over to his house for Christmas Eve supper.
He said he still believes in the Catholic faith but isn’t sure of his “place” in the church. [I can believe that! It must be terribly hard to face the Church when your appetites and passions are pulling you in a direction that you know, by the Church’s teachings and the image of God in us, are out of keeping with the way things are. It must be painful and confusing. However, ad astra per aspera. I would say, fight these inclinations and seek to live a virtuous life just like everyone else is called! It can be done. God offers the graces to shoulder the burden. The greater the challenge, the more help will be given. The greater the suffering, the greater the victory.]
Toward the end of his mother’s life, the two would pray together; she signed the cross on her leg when she couldn’t lift her hands higher. They prayed the rosary together the last time they saw each other, Ardillo said. [Beautiful.]
He had thought the funeral would serve as a reintroduction into the Catholic community, but not anymore. [This is manipulative reporting.]
“I can’t,” he said. “I don’t have it in me.”
I am always sorry to read of these incidents.
It could be that some things might have been handled in a different way. Sure. We don’t know all the details and probably never will. But when stories like this circulate, some sobriety needs to be injected.
I hope that this shock in the man’s life will, down the road, produce fruits. We are all in this together, so I suggest that you stop and say a prayer for him.
Moderation queue is ON.