D. Grand Rapids – Priest denies Communion to Lesbian judge married to a woman. He’s now under attack.

UPDATE 2 Dec 2019:

This story has now thudded into a hardly surprising new phase. HERE She went to a Methodist “inclusion” gathering and tool their “communion”.

I like the bit in the video where she says, “It’s not about me.”


You can tell a lot about what this woman understands about the Faith she said she belonged it. In fact, she belongs to another religion altogether. And note the video of her taking Methodist “communion”.

Also interesting is the choice of this news station to keep milking the story for every last drop of anti-Catholicism.

As the manual theologian Prümmer points out, Catholics must not take part in a non-Catholic ritual action (which is what she did) with the intention of worshiping God (if she was there for that and not just to get on the news – and it could be both) in the manner of non-Catholics because such an act is tantamount to denial of the Catholic Faith.   You can, for example, attend the non-Catholic wedding or a funeral of a relative or friend, but you cannot receive their “communion”.


The Diocese of Grand Rapids is backing up the priest, Fr. Nolan!

This is good news.

Statement regarding St. Stephen parish

I am pleased that the Diocese is backing the priest in this matter.  It’s an important signal to priests and laity alike.  We must pray for our priests and our bishops as The Present Crisis™ ramps up.

How long will it be before Jesuits complain?

Three… Two… One…


___Originally Published on: Nov 26, 2019 at 22:49

From WOOD TV in Grand Rapids, MI.  Note how spectacularly biased and poorly written.

EGR priest denies Communion to gay judge
by: Barton Deiters

EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Judge Sara Smolenski, chief judge of the Kent County District Court, has been denied Communion at the church where she has been a parishioner for more than six decades because she is married to a woman[Length of registration or, probably, imagining that you are a parishioner, is irrelevant.]

It is a move that for many was the final straw in a pattern of behavior that has them calling for the removal of a priest — a priest who came to St. Stephen Catholic Church about three years ago.  [The antecedent suggests that the married lesbians are the “them”.]

In 1966, under the leadership of Rev. Msgr. Edward N. Alt, St. Stephen Catholic School became the first integrated Catholic school in Metro Grand Rapids and had a student body that was nearly 40 percent non-Catholic.  [More irrelevant padding.  So what?]

This tradition of inclusion and acceptance would be the essence of the school and the church for 50 years.  [Except that what is not being included is tradition.  And 50 years means nothing.]

But now, some here say that is changing.  [Some.]

“I’ve been a member of St. Stephen’s Catholic Parish for 62 years, basically,” Smolenski said.  [Some.. and we are back to the lesbian.]

Smolenski who has been on the bench for nearly 30 years, [30 years on the bench… so she ought to know better about law.  How does such an antinomian sleep?]comes from a family of prominent community members, including her father who was also a district court judge, and her brother, a state appeals court judge.  [So what?  All these family relations are irrelevant.]

“I was baptized there, my parents were married there, every one of my nine siblings went to school (from) first through eighth grade. We buried my parents out of that school,” Smolenski said. “This is a church that is a part of who I am. This is a church who helped form my faith.”  [Quidquid recipitur…]

News 8 featured Smolenski in March of 2016, when she became the first Kent County elected official to marry someone of the same sex.

But it was just last Saturday that Smolenski got a call from the parish priest, Father Scott Nolan[So… the parish priest reached out.  I wonder if she reached out to the priest before civilly marrying a woman (a public act).]

“The way he said it was ‘because you’re married to Linda in the state of Michigan, you cannot accept communion,’ that’s how he said it,” Smolenski explained. [What was he supposed to say? Beat around the bush with a woman who supposedly has said a lot blunter things in her courtroom?] “I try to be a good and faithful servant to our Lord Jesus Christ. My faith is a huge part of who I am, but it is the church that made that faith, the very church where he is taking a stance and saying ho-ho, not you.” [Something is missing here.  She seems to think that she is only a member of that parish and not the larger Church.]

It was a devastating revelation for the lifelong Catholic who months earlier gave $7,000 to the parish building fund.  [She gave $7000!!!  Well, she should get Communion for that!]

“Oh my gosh, I’m not going to get Jesus at the church I have devoted my life to,” Smolenski said, fighting back tears. “I thought of my mom and dad who devoted their whole life to raising us Catholic, spending all that money at the Catholic education.”  [It is entirely possible that her mom and dad would get why an open lesbian shouldn’t be receiving Communion.]

Smolenski was not the first person to be denied, according to a dozen people News 8 talked to Tuesday, including one same-sex couple who was denied the Eucharist during their child’s communion service.  [So, she wasn’t being singled out.  The priest isn’t knuckling under just because she’s a judge or she gave $7000.]

“The public shunning — everything about it was offensive,” Smolenski said of the denial months before her own.


There’s more of this rubbish.

This is the bottom line: Force the Church to conform to you. If the priest doesn’t comply with your demands, don’t for a moment consider that he also has a job to do with laws and doctrines, attack and intimidate.

The article goes on to cite Francis.

The UK’s Catholic Herald has a recent issue with the cover: Communion Wars.

If there are Communion Wars, I suggest that they are rising partly because a certain person is forcing priests more and more to examine their vocations and make hard choices.

Also, every one of these episodes is an opportunity to bear witness to the truth about the Eucharist and our Catholic identity, especially in our liturgical rites.

We are our rites.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. visigrad22 says:

    St Stephen’s in Grand Rapids has a contact form on their website where you can write notes offering prayer and support to Father. Please take a few minutes to do so.

  2. Amerikaner says:

    Good for the priest. White martyrdom but he is being faithful.

  3. Fyrdman says:

    I felt compelled to reach out to the good Father.

  4. Leonius says:

    The time registered as a parishioner, and her family background are actually very relevant in that they reveal that we are dealing with someone who considers herself an elite member of the community, someone entitled to do what she wants, someone who considers herself superior to the Priest, to the Church and to God Himself.

  5. Fallibilissimo says:

    Why take it out on the priest? Take it out with the Catechism and the Magisterium. Better yet, take it out on the founder of the Church and creator of natural law.

    I never like it when the surrogates get the blame. If you’re willing to get upset about something, do it properly and start asking some questions in prayer to upper management. The priest is just His lowly servant…makes no sense to get upset with him.

  6. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Fr. Scott Nolan is Catholic.

    Such strange times we live in, when it is scandalous to people that a Catholic priest, behaves like a Catholic.

  7. happyCatholic says:

    Sent a brief note of support.

    Thanks, visigrad22, for the idea.

  8. Mr. Graves says:

    I also felt compelled to reach out. God bless this faithful priest.

  9. teomatteo says:

    Do bishops send out regular -maybe monthly memos to his priests with ‘rubber meets the road’ info on how to handle these situations? I have never heard a priest guide me publicly on:
    attending a SS ceremony or reception, attending a ‘pride parade’. Inviting SScouple to a baptism where young children will be in attendance, etc. Do some bishops guide his priests? cuz there ain’t no priests guiding me.

  10. Gab says:

    May God bless him and the Virgin protect him. This faithful priest is trying to save her soul.

  11. FrAnt says:

    I wonder if that would work in her courtroom? Sorry judge I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to drive on the sidewalk. What? Are you sending me to jail? But that’s not fair, what kind of mercy is that? I’ve paid my taxes, I have lived here all of my life. This is wrong, and I’m going to the Press.

  12. RLseven says:

    Perhaps Communion should only be distributed to people AFTER they leave the confessional. How else can one be sure he is not giving Communion to a sinner– especially those who ignore/disregard Church law/teachings? [No. And No.]

    I agree that catechesis about the Eucharist is the problem. [Liturgy is catechesis par excellence.] If we really understood and appreciated the Eucharist, I think a more authentic Mass would have most attendees praying in their pews during Communion, and maybe 10% (Is that too high?) receiving Communion.

    But I’m torn– because Jesus came for sinners, ate with sinners, healed sinners, chose sinners as his apostles… and so since the Eucharist is Jesus in the flesh, it is a source of healing (among other things) for the one who receives it. It could be (of course it is) instrumental in turning sinners hearts, minds, and practices away from sin– in God’s time. [Cf. Paul to the Corinthians.]

    For the life of me, though, I can’t understand why any LGBTQ person would want to remain Catholic. If you are heterosexual, you are included and accepted by the Church, no matter what you do, pretty much. (Well, maybe if your pastor is standing in line behind you at the pharmacy when you’re buying birth control pills, he’d have grounds to cut you off. But most sins are well hidden, right?) If you are homosexual, you are included and accepted ONLY if you are willing to not be in relationship with someone. Only if you are willing to grow old single and childless. And if we’re honest, that is neither inclusion or acceptance– don’t kid yourselves into believing that it is.

    [Faith is the last thing that goes, often long after hope and very long after charity. And God’s prevenient grace is mysterious. Consider Waugh’s “twitch upon the thread”.]

  13. tho says:

    Three cheers for Father Nolan, and his Bishop.

  14. francophile says:

    I wrote a note of support for Fr. Nolan and I also tagged the story to others to encourage them to write a note to him also. He receives our prayers and support.

  15. Matthew says:

    I’m sure she is a terrible judge as well. If she can’t follow simple rules of her religion how can she apply the law.

    The priest is right, the judge is making a political statement and it is disgusting. She should be ashamed of herself. She won’t be, but she should be.

  16. JustaSinner says:

    I’ll trade my Parrish priest and a second round draft choice for Fr Nolan!

  17. Gab says:

    I don’t understand the controversy. Given her lifestyle, she is in a state of mortal sin and in a public manner. The pastor cannot give Holy Communion with this knowledge. He is doing his job and is to be praised – as is his Bishop for upholding Catholic beliefs and practices.

  18. Pingback: THVRSDAY EDITION – Big Pulpit

  19. GrumpyYoungMan says:

    “Lifelong Catholics would surely be aware of this.”


  20. veritas vincit says:

    “For the life of me, though, I can’t understand why any LGBTQ person would want to remain Catholic. If you are heterosexual, you are included and accepted by the Church, no matter what you do, pretty much. (Well, maybe if your pastor is standing in line behind you at the pharmacy when you’re buying birth control pills, he’d have grounds to cut you off. But most sins are well hidden, right?) If you are homosexual, you are included and accepted ONLY if you are willing to not be in relationship with someone. Only if you are willing to grow old single and childless. And if we’re honest, that is neither inclusion or acceptance– don’t kid yourselves into believing that it is.”

    RLSeven, that view buys into the false and dangerous narrative that “homosexual” is something you are. If you have same-sex attraction, that does not define you. If (whether or not under the influence of SSA) you misuse your free will to commit homosexual acts, that does not define you.For that matter, any misuse of free will to sin against God, as we all do from time to time, does not define us or prevent true “inclusion and acceptance in the Church. We are all sinners.

  21. RLseven, I don’t want to engage in controversy, but you realize that your comment says that single and childless people have no place in the Church, right? And I suspect that most homosexual people who are making their way forward in faith have all sorts of relationships that don’t pretend to be marriage covenants. The larger question is, of course, that the ’embrace of community’ at the level of the parish is a good rather far down in the hierarchy of goods: the great dogmas of Redemption and Resurrection don’t necessarily require a warm familial parish life.

  22. Charles E Flynn says:

    “No community of faith can withstand the public contradiction of its beliefs by its own members” is a good sequel to “A house divided against itself cannot stand”.

  23. Charles E Flynn says:

    From Lesbian judge denied Communion tried to get priest removed as chaplain from Catholic lawyer’s group:

    Wed Nov 27, 2019 – 4:28 pm EST
    EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan, November 27, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — LifeSite has learned that the lesbian judge currently orchestrating a coup against the Catholic priest who runs the parish she attends has previously attempted to not only smear him as a bigot but has tried to get him removed as chaplain of the Catholic Lawyers Association of Western Michigan. 

  24. Docent says:

    Good for Grand Rapids. Let us pray they never cave in on this.

    In the meantime, however, a Detroit, Michigan traditional priest Fr. Eduard Perrone continues to remain wrongly suspended from resuming his duties as the Pastor of Assumption Grotto Church by the Detroit Archdiocese based on a ridiculous charge of alleged sexual abuse of one boy some 40 years ago, and apparently the boy himself now claims the alleged abuse never happened. A website that continues to report on the actions of the Detroit Archdiocese now reports that the Diocese will not turn over court-ordered files that could exonerate Fr. Perrone, plus the Michigan State Police have apparently found no evidence of abuse committed by Fr. Perrone. See the following:


    So it looks like Michigan has one Diocese acting to defend the faith and a priest doing the right thing while another Diocese wrongly persecutes a priest who has been a defender of the faith and doing the right things his entire priestly career. God help us.

  25. Dan says:

    “The public shunning — everything about it was offensive,”

    The fact is nothing about this has to be public. The priest appropriately didn’t send her away from the communion line but spoke candidly and privately to her.

    It is only the Judge that made it public.

  26. The Cobbler says:


    If you’re suggesting anyone’s entitled to a relationship of an intimate or sexual nature, then most of the feminists I know want a word with you.

    As for heterosexuals being denied Communion, it happens regularly (if not as consistently as it ought) with politicians whose acts of governance contravene Church principles. Funny thing: then we’re accused of politicizing the Eucharist. You can tell these responses are misframed because they claim completely different issues behind roughly the same scenario.

  27. The Cobbler says:

    She speaks of getting Jesus. Does she believe in the Real Presence?

  28. BrionyB says:

    It sounds as though she does believe in the Real Presence (personally I find the ‘get Jesus’ phrasing makes me cringe a bit, but it is generally well-meant and very much an expression of faith) but apparently at the moment either doesn’t understand or can’t accept the Church’s teaching and the natural law on marriage.

    A curious situation, and no doubt a painful one, but where there is a spark of faith and desire for the Eucharist, there is surely hope. I will pray for her, that she’s able to be reconciled with the Church someday and return to full communion. I’m sure it’s possible – if I could be converted, despite all my pride and stubborn persistence in a sinful lifestyle for many years, then surely anyone can.

    For anyone in a situation like this, I strongly recommend praying to Our Lady for help; no matter how far we have wandered and how impossible it seems to find the way back to God, we only have to put our hand in hers, with humility and trust like a little child, and our Mother will lead us home in the end.

  29. KateD says:

    “Oh my gosh, I’m not going to get Jesus at the church I have devoted my life to,”

    Dear judge, if you don’t understand that action results in consequence, then perhaps you should consider stepping down from the bench.

  30. monstrance says:

    Who are we to judge ?!
    The gift that keeps on giving.
    Thank you Holy Father.

    The circumstances prior to Fr Nolan’s actions produced a public scandal.
    Unlike Joe six-pack Catholic, living a not so public life.

  31. KateD says:

    And I’ll add , after reading through the comments….that as I sit here sore and feeling like I’ve just been through a prize fight, everything aches…having finally turned in at 5am. I’m fairly certain there’s no longer a print left on my right index finger from the weeeks worth of scrubbing and cleaning and burning and scrubbing some more. The painful cracks on my hands will begin within the next 24 hours and will remain for weeks until they finally heal up. And each time as I do this ritual mortification (no fewer than three times a year), and I watch my religious or otherwise single and childless family/friends sitting and visiting with a cocktail in their hand, and listen to the hordes of children giggle gleefully ~ I’m envious of my single and childless friends. What I wouldn’t give to sit down with a cocktail and engaged in intelligent conversation! But the reality is that without Martha busting her tush in the kitchen, there’s no party to invite Jesus to for Mary to sit at his feet listening and learning. We all have our crosses. Sounds like the single and childless suffer a more spiritual mortification. Think of how much higher that soul soars! Because there is no doubt that spiritual refining is more painful than physical (think of Jesus lowered through the hole in the floor at Anninais’s house after having been denied and rejected by, oh~EVERYONE). But where God calls such a person, He has also given the great gifts of grace necessary to endure such rigor, as is evidenced by the fact that the person in question is a judge and has a large and prominent family. Just saying…..

  32. KateD says:

    *Not that Jesus needed spiritual refinement…just saying soul ache is more intense than physical pain. Sorry for the poorly written post.

  33. JumpJet says:

    Maybe the judge will understand this “Police/Law” logic…

    –The “Judge” in this situation is Our Lord.
    –The “Ex Con/Parolee” is Ms. Smolenski (and all of us for that matter).
    –The “Parole Officer” is Father Nolan (and all faithful/orthodox priests).
    –The “System” is eternal damnation

    The Judge released us from prison 2000 years ago…Parolees must follow the instruction from the Court…the Parole Officers help us to stay out of jail. It doesn’t matter whether we like the Judge’s ruling or the Parole Officer’s enforcement of the Ruling…we still must obey or we risk being returned to the “System”

    Simple enough Judge?

  34. Maldon says:

    I like the constant appeal to “50 years”. Sounds like an appeal to tradition. . . What would happen if we were to complain to our bishops that our liturgies are not what they were 50 years ago? Or 60? Or 100. . . .

    We need to be building the 2019 equivalents of priest holes. And fast.

  35. carndt says:

    We were visiting our new granddaughter in Grand Rapids this past weekend. Having read your blog prior to our trip we made a point to attend Mass at St. Stephen. The young pastor gave a wonderful sermon. After Mass he spoke VERY briefly regarding the past week’s reporting stating he would give no further comment.
    In the vestibule, I thanked him for his Faithful strength and that multitudes of prayers are being offered for him.

  36. Pingback: Two good commentaries today on the works of @JamesMartinSJ | Fr. Z's Blog

  37. Cincinnati Priest 2 says:

    Tbanks for your post, Fr. Z.

    It is *so tiresome* to hear the secular news media trot out their standard line that “she is being excluded from Communion” for ‘being gay.’ ” Either extraordinarily lazy or deliberately mischaracterizing. Or both. Did they even read the statement of the Dio. G.R. Or reach out to them to get the wording right. Can they not understand the concept that she was being excluded for an action that is in direct contradiction to the Church’s teaching?

    They are so ignorant of and hostile to Church teaching that it is hard to tell where ignorance ends and malice beings.

    We need to get good orthodox Catholic p.r. types employed in communications offices in the dioceses who aggressively call out the secular media for their distortions.

  38. cajunpower says:

    How very unecumenical.

    Can’t wait for them to sponsor the Muslim service where the men and women all sit together to hear the preaching of a lady Imam (or homosexual Imam, or homosexual lady Imam).

    Actually, it appears that this church doesn’t even fully adhere to the doctrines of the United Methodist Church…

  39. Suburbanbanshee says:

    There are some female imams, generally out in the waybacks of the Muslim world. I believe the Uighurs had a female imam tradition for hundreds of years (granny age women, mostly serving small villages or just women and small kids). Also some Shia groups, although usually it is just female scholars in those places that do it.

  40. JimWi says:

    Was anyone else troubled by the repetition of the word “table” in the judge’s remarks from the video?

    It’s just more evidence that today’s table-altars have a negative impact on our understanding of the Eucharist sacrifice. Once upon a time, Cranmer, in his Anglican “reforms,” wrote about transforming the Holy Sacrifice into a communal meal. He aimed to accomplish this by the introduction of the table-altar.

  41. Matthew says:

    It seems in her 62 years at her parish she has learned little about the Faith. How sad for her.

  42. Sonshine135 says:

    How many people openly walk into a church and scream out and flaunt their sins? When have any of us seen a man we know walk in and say, “Hey everyone. This is my 18 year old girlfriend, Sweetie McSweetums. Yeah, I had to leave my 42 year old wife at home today, because she is dying of cancer, but hey, love is love right?” Would we be repulsed?
    Would Jesus accept that type of behavior, or would he “accompany” the man when he changed his heart, confessed his sin, and begged his Lord and his wife’s forgiveness? This is the distinction many of our brothers and sisters don’t make. We must also have the understanding that when Jesus ate with sinners, he did so with an intimate knowledge of who they were and what was in their heart, and he responded accordingly. We should too. This woman cried out to the media, who was more than willing to provide her with a platform, and decried this Priest. If she loved God near as much as she loved her Lesbian “wife”, she would never have dared to enter into such a relationship for fear of offending God. See, they call this stuff “pride” for a reason. Pride indeed. The same pride that got Satan thrown out of heaven when he uttered “Non Servum”.

  43. MaHrad says:

    “It’s not about me.” Yet how many times I that sentence does she say “I” or “me”…totally clueless.

  44. albinus1 says:

    “Can they not understand the concept that she was being excluded for an action that is in direct contradiction to the Church’s teaching?”

    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” — Upton Sinclair

  45. KateD says:

    Just watched the news clip….

    God bless and protect that young courageous priest who is risking all for her salvation, and the protection of the souls of his flock. A true shepherd!

    What’s really tragic is that she doesn’t get the fact that he is sacrificing so much out of love for her. So much she just doesn’t understand. It’s really sad. I can’t help but think that better Catechesis when she was young would have prevented this whole nasty mess.

  46. dallenl says:

    It is getting quite tiresome to have those who insist on variants in their “private” lives to parade them in public and then demand our approval. Oh, for the day when Oscar Wilde’s dictum of “hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue” was the standard.

  47. Pingback: D. Grand Rapids – Priest denies Communion to Lesbian judge married to a woman. He’s now under attack. | Jean'sBistro2010's Blog

  48. wmeyer says:

    For faithful Catholics, no explanation is needed. For the rest, no explanation will alter their feelings of justice.

  49. joekstl2 says:

    To JimWi: yes, our center of worship is an altar TABLE.
    To Maldon: . “What would happen if we were to complain to our bishops that our liturgies are not what they were 50 years ago? Or 60? Or 100. . . “. What would happen if we complained that our liturgies are not what they were in the early Church in the New Testament or at the time of Justin Martyr in the mid second century?

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