Saturday, February 01, 2014

An unfortunate chain of events ...

They're a 'couple'.

"Partners" denied Holy Communion at Mother's funeral: A little bit of history repeating.

Remember the Father Marcel Guarnizo affair a couple of years ago? Fr. Guarnizo denied Communion to a lesbian and her partner because they were a couple - possibly living in sin.  I think one of them was a Buddhist as well as something of an activist - I'm not sure.  Anyway - they were told not to present for Communion, they did and were refused.  Story here.

Just the other day a gay-Catholic left a comment criticizing me for an admonition I wrote as regards SSA Catholics who live together, I had said how it is important for them not to identify or present themselves as a couple.  My critic told me that my statement was nothing more than 'word policing' - that the word has no real meaning, noting:  "besides Marriage itself, the deposit of faith has no category of "couplehood" period."  Ah!  So let's see how that works.  

The gay couple were refused Communion over one word used in an obituary.

A couple who lives outside of Chillicothe say their priest denied them communion when he discovered they were in a same-sex relationship. Carol Parker and her partner of nearly 20 years, Josephine Martin, say they were good standing members of Saint Columban Catholic Church in Chillicothe for 12 years.
They say that all changed when Parker had her mother’s funeral at the church following her death on December 26th. The obituary noted Parker’s mother was survived by a son, a daughter and her daughter’s partner.
“If that one word had not been in there, he would be fine,” said Martin.
Parker said she had been a member since 2001 and served as a lector, a cantor and also sang in the choir. - Story

After the funeral the priest sent a letter to Ms. Parker explaining the teaching of the Church.  It said nothing about 'couplehood' or partnership - yet the use of that one word 'partner' was enough for the priest who explained:  “having a same-sex attraction is not sinful in and of itself … it is only when a person moves from attraction to willfully acting upon it that the situation becomes a sinful matter.”

From the looks of these women I would imagine they are probably not sexually active.  Ordinarily two women or two men, close friends, sharing a house is perfectly fine.  No sin or scandal in that.  Yet when the obituary describes the survivors in what can be interpreted as a same sex relationship or marriage, then that public declaration becomes a problem.  As the minister of the Eucharist, the priest calls the shots.

Likewise, as in the Guarnizo situation, it appears one of the women may dissent on Catholic moral teaching.  Commenting on the priest's actions, she said:
... she hopes that the priest might “open his eyes and fully receive the LGBT community into the church.”

What an unfortunate series of events, huh?  Yet words have meaning - and consequences.

The awful truth.

When Pope Francis said 'who am I to judge' he first noted that he hadn't seen any gay-identity-card-carrying people in the Vatican - in other words, no one was coming up to him and saying "I'm gay.  I'm out.  I want to change/undermine the rules."  He wasn't identifying people by their sexual inclinations.  He went on to explain, "If a gay person seeks God ... who am I to judge."  However, truth be told, if a gay couple comes out and declares they are gay, living as a married couple, then it appears there really is something to judge.  

“I didn't realize this was a sad occasion.” 


  1. Try this one on for size. A homosexual couple, one of whom leads the 10:30 band at Mass and the other one who sings in the band are openly living together. They celebrate "anniversary's" and such publicly on Facebook where they also post links to rather raunchy "gay" sites and participate in the group "Gay Spokane." Many of the youth of the parish are their "friends" on Facebook. They talk often on Facebook of the parish priest dining at their home and what great times they have. One of them receives communion every Sunday, the other one doesn't. Both were previously married to women and have grown children.

    Right behind them in the communion line is a young lady who is "happily" pregnant with her second illegitimate child with her live in boyfriend (who is not the father of the first child, btw) She also is "friends" on Facebook with hundreds of parish youth.

    Now exactly what is the message being sent to the parishioners about all this?

    That is all...

    1. Just as long as they don't mention anything about it in an obituary I think they can get away with it.


    2. “We’re all God’s children, and we have every right to receive Communion,” she says. “Even the pope has said, ‘Who am I to judge?’”

      Reading that made me angry...what arrogance. The Eucharist is a gift, a treasure, from the Lord Jesus, himself. How can I approach "He who lives in unapproachable light" with such arrogance and disregard for the truth? Nothing new in that regard though...I did so once, many years ago. I knew what I was about and knew I was in need of confession but my pride and my laziness to deal with the truth, to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit, was drowned out by the ME.
      Needless to say, that day and that sin weighed heavy on my person and I am glad since I then went to confession.

      Anyway...pardon the ramble...I support the parish priest in defending and proclaiming the truth to these women. If he knew or suspected...well, that "word" was advertised, plain and simple. I can only hope his bishop will stand with him/behind him and not toss him under the bus in order that "he may look good." Too many are in hell already for that particular sin!

      Confusion wonder folks, who should know better, are smug, self-righteous, arrogant, proud...myself so included. ^^

      Twisting what Pope Francis said about, "who am I to judge?" in order to justify their life-style while playing the "victim card" was just so on the mark in her defending herself. Of course, the quote where Pope Francis talks about "seeking the Lord in good will" was so conveniently left out.

      From my own personal experience, one cannot approach the Lord Jesus "in good will" and expect to get off scott free. Meaning, if I stand or seek to stand in His awesome presence, "all will be laid bare before me, all that is not of the Lord will be revealed." I can only hope for the grace of His mercy and the gift of true repentance IF I AM SINCERE in seeking the will of the Lord!

      This story is just the beginning...all the work, all the calls to embrace God's truth's, to repentance, to conversion, to holiness...they must be defended! Heterosexual or homosexual, I don't care...we are all called to be right before the Lord! Otherwise...why bother?

      Let's preservere in prayer, in hope, in charity. Let's pray for those who spread confusion and dissent...especially, lazy Catholic bishops/priests whose only interest is to "not rock the boat, go with the flow, it's all good."

      I have to smile now because I too must reflect on those wise words of Papa Francis, "who am I to judge?" in the sense that they cannot be twisted to allow or excuse my sinful behavior or anyone else's.

      Then again, what do I know, all clouded eyes and heart within me? The "to judge" is that of the perfect Judge and His beloved Church.

    3. You are so good.

      The woman must have been told she was just fine in her lifestyle - which explains why she regularly received Communion and was a lector and served in other functions in the parish - until the new priest was assigned. She was never 'corrected' and therefore believed she was just fine. I'm not sure she was not being arrogant at all. I'm thinking it was a problem of the former pastor who did not guide his flock according to Catholic teaching..

    4. "I'm not sure she was not being arrogant at all."

      What I meant to say - I don't think she was being arrogant at all.

      It had been a long day yesterday and I should never post when I'm tired.

    5. That's okay since I restrained my online opinion on this particular story so as to insult no one...but believe me, I was ready to go there as my ire was sky high. ^^

      Thanks be to God for our precious guardian angels.

      One thing I do agree with is the possibility that someone in authority at her parish might have given her the green light but still, no excuse for hiding the truth as to the reality of who she is and what choices she made that contradict Catholic moral thoughts turned to this when she made the claim, "we have every right to receive Communion."

      No, you don't if you lie.

    6. Like I said - you are good, very good. And you are correct about receiving Communion.

      I don't think there is any evidence that she lied though.

    7. Per Nan's post...
      "The problem isn't that the priest withheld Communion due to *one word* but that the lesbian couple pretended to be faithful to Church teaching when they weren't"

      So much can be read in Nan's post that anyone of us will come away with a completely different take on this sad/controversial situation. In this my opinion, "pretending leans toward deceiving." Though we are not gonna agree...who, but those women truly know what really is going on. Let the perfect Judge call them forth as only He can and sort it out.

      One thing's for sure though...this is not the end as we can expect many more of these types of stories to come to light in the future of the Church. We can expect many to be aggressive in their pursuit of being justified irregardless of the truth.

      To be fair...I do not understand the homosexual lifestyle. I do not understand what it is like to be attracted to women. I do not understand same sex couples who want or claim to be in a so-called marital relationship and yet still want to live a sacramental life claiming they love God and the Church.

      I suppose if I was living with a man for 20 years and not married...problem is, I cannot imagine that either and still want to attempt to approach the altar...or pretend to be a member in good standing.

      Now, I better understand why I never commented on your posts with regards to the homosexual lifestyle...too much to try to understand and well, the best I can do is hope and pray. I am not going to enter the fray anymore but be assured of my prayers.

      Thanks for your patience in my lack of knowledge and speculations. ^^

  2. The message is the priest doesn't care about Church teaching. That wouldn't be a first; my cousin defends having lived with her husband before they were married because the priest thought it was fine; the husband is a hypocrite because he made commentary at my mom not receiving communion at a wedding. She left the Church decades ago and claims it. They still claim to be Catholic without following Church teaching.

    1. No offense, but your family is kind of different Nan.

    2. Just *my* family?

    3. Pretty much, hon. Although I think the LarryD family is pretty screwed up too.


    4. That was supposed to be funny.

  3. In the first case, at least, the Archdiocese of Washington wound up saying that the priest did NOT take the right course of action, and this case seems little different.

    1. I think it is different; in the first case, the Buddhist lesbian activist was a visitor to the parish, for her mother's funeral. In this case, the couple a) were members of the parish; b) masquerading as faithful Catholics; c) the relationship was memorialized in the obituary; d) the priest wrote a letter explaining that the problem wasn't the attraction but rather acting on the attraction.

      I believe that the priest had every right to withhold in the first case as the woman had let him know in advance that she didn't follow Church teaching; however, in this case, as a member of the parish he had an obligation to the parish as a whole, once he became aware of the relationship, to stop people who weren't in good standing with the Church from acting as though they were and setting a bad example for others.

      The problem isn't that the priest withheld Communion due to *one word* but that the lesbian couple pretended to be faithful to Church teaching when they weren't. While I don't know the hearts or bedroom arrangements of those at my parish, I do know that when couples present themselves for marriage, it's a scandal if they're living together and they may not marry unless they become celibate until their marriage. Likewise, to be an EHMC or Lector, one must first produce proof of Confirmation and go through some training.

    2. Requiring a couple that is cohabiting to separate or promise abstinence for a certain period of time before allowing them to marry seems downright silly. Paul said "Better marry than burn." One would think that the fact that such a couple WANTS to get married would be seen as a good thing, the "remedy" to their situation, as it were, and the priest would say, "Yes, yes, right away. Let's get this all regularized as quick as possible, then there's no more worrying or questions." Instead, however, this other bizarre logic persists...

    3. "The Archdiocese of Washington" was wrong.

    4. @A Sinner, what's the point of getting married in the Church if you haven't/have no intention of following Church teaching?

  4. When I wrote here:

    "Likewise, as in the Guarnizo situation, it appears one of the women may dissent on Catholic moral teaching. Commenting on the priest's actions, she said:
    ... she hopes that the priest might “open his eyes and fully receive the LGBT community into the church.”

    I was being slightly sardonic.

    From what I understand these two women had been active in the parish for years and were admitted to Communion throughout that time. If I had been the priest I would have assumed they were reconciled with the Church and good faithful Catholics, the obituary notice notwithstanding.

    My main intention with this piece was to emphasize a point I made in another post which A Sinner objected to regarding identifying as a couple. It is better not to do so if a person wants to receive the sacraments. I should note the reason for the sarcasm is because the woman may simply have been echoing what Church leaders have been saying already: "The Church needs to be more welcoming to gay people." That was hardly a statement of dissent.

    That said, there are nuns and priests who are far more liberal in their POV and in their way of life, and they are not banned from Communion.

    My Lemony Snicket quote and caption under the women's photo was meant to indicate what I thought about the unfortunate chain of events.

    I'm not qualified to do so, nor will I offer any criticism on the decision of the priest or the Church in this situation, although the women have my sympathy.

    These arguments get to be very convoluted and I'm always sorry I step into the fray.

  5. The point is to begin following it, to regularized your situation, I assume. Marriage isn't a reward for those who have waited, it's just as much a "remedy" for fornication.

    As for the archdiocese of Washington, I think their policy is perfectly sensible and Catholic. My point was just that there is disagreement even within the official church about these situations, so citing one or two priests' questionable decisions isn't proof of any church policy on this question when the whole point is that sources more authoritative than I support the idea that these are wrong decisions and NOT required by church policy, so the argument is circular here.

    1. "so the argument is circular here"

      Isn't that always the case with these issues. Not a question.

      The individual priest/pastor is the preeminent minister of the Eucharist in these situations and whether one agrees with him or not - he calls the shots. It happened. It's done.

  6. So the message is "hide your relationship if you don't want certain priests to make bad decisions and withhold communion for you?" or, more probably, "Don't get very involved in parish life at all"???

    1. Haha! No, that is not my message. I'm sorry for being so flip and somewhat sarcastic with this story.

      Hiding the true nature of a relationship would be dishonest, and I can't imagine how anyone doing so could imagine themselves faithful to Church teaching. In the case of these two women I have no idea of the details of their living arrangement but I would imagine since they were active in the parish and regular communicants, they were living in fidelity to Church teaching as they understood it. As I pointed out, their age may indicate they were no longer sexually intimate and they may have understood that the Church specifically asks gay people to restrain from sexual behavior. Their former pastor may never have instructed them that the appearance of a relationship equivocal to marriage could be a source of scandal. The claim to be partners is today understood to represent that domestic situation, straight couples who cohabit use the same terminology - yet in their minds it could have simply meant they have been life-long BFF's. I do not know. At any rate, they had been accepted in their parish for 20 years as they were. Their new priest did not make a 'bad decision' as you put it, rather he made a prudential judgement based on his understanding of that one word. (I somehow think it more than probable a concerned parishoner brought the matter to his attention - I could be wrong.)

      BTW - I would always make funeral arrangements in person and discuss things with the priest beforehand.

      That said, I often tell older gay friends that now that they are no longer sexually active, not to buy viagra, but to return to the sacraments. To go to confession and live chaste lives. I tell them to use this time in their life to return to the practice of prayer, as well as to frequent Mass and Communion. I tell them it is an excellent opportunity to sanctify their lives. There are men - and I suppose women too - who do that. They often have a confessor/spiritual director who helps them, counsels them. If they don't, I suggest they find someone. (Not everyone listens to me and they remain fixed in their 'lifestyle' and think I'm crazy - especially when they read stories like this or read the comboxes of Catholic bloggers.)

      As I said in another post, it is important to avoid scandal - to give the impression homosexual relationships are equal to marriage. Chaste friendship is not equal to marriage. Even if civil law allows for same sex marriage, same sex friends living together is not a marriage on any level, in truth, in the eyes of God. The dishonesty lies there. That is where the lie is. If the lesbian couple thinks they are somehow married or their particular friendship is equal to marriage, they are mistaken.

      Chaste and celibate friends can and do live together under the same roof and receive the sacraments.

      (Continued in next entry)

    2. As for ""Don't get very involved in parish life at all"???"

      I'm not necessarily recommending not getting involved in parish life - I can't offer advice to others - I have no authority nor am I qualified to do so. What I will say is that if a person chooses to volunteer, lowly jobs, those that people normally do not want to do are better than seeking a leadership position or presenting as some sort of role model. Volunteering for charitable works elsewhere, a shelter, a hospice, some sort of charity, even teaching in a poor neighborhood, could also be an alternative. If a person wants to direct the choir or lead the youth group, that is fine - just be prepared for the inquisition.

      I prefer the freedom to pray, thinking back on what St. Paul advises in some of his letters, such as, "live quietly", "associate with the lowly", and so on. For me to be a Catholic is to seek God in prayer and good works, going directly to him in the sacraments, striving to conform oneself to Christ. The Church is the house of God, the gate of heaven. As the psalm says, "I would rather lie abject upon the threshold of God's house than dwell in the tents of the wicked." Serving, volunteering, living in community, many ordinary people do those things quietly, minding their own business.

      Nothing wrong with that.

  7. I think it goes a little far to say that a gay partnership is not equal "on any level" to marriage. That goes a little far. It isn't marriage, for it lacks an essential element of marriage, as such it is different in nature and less pre-eminently special as an institution, and it's not "the exact same thing."

    But the way you speak it's almost like you deny any analogy is possible, when really analogy is possible between any two things. A "common law marriage" is analogized to marriage, though it lacks the essential element of lifelong commitment. But people understand the axes along which it is similar.

    Differences, even essential differences, don't destroy or invalidate similarities. A gorilla is not a human, but we're both primates. A regular parish is not the cathedral, but they're both churches.

    In this case specifically I would say: not all partnerships are matrimony, even though all marriages are life-partnerships.

    1. This comment was sent to me by a friend to post in response to your other comment:

      "Dear Sinner ... the answer to your questions is an absolute 'no'. No, don't hide your 'sin' but be wise, prudent, and above all embrace humility and pray. Wise - Take your sin and struggle to Christ ... to your pastor, or a priest who will seriously and lovingly walk with you. PRUDENT - in our Jerry Springer & Oprah tell-all society we have lost a sense of prudence that serves our spiritual well-being, as well as others (parish community and family). Like parents, one does not have to or should tell their offsprings all of their past sins. Learn to know what needs to be spoken, and to whom, and then learn how to address the busy bodies w/o sinning ... in charity and in ways that quietly instructs. [i.e.: "Is this any proper business of yours?]

      "No" to the second question as well. Once the first steps above are done, a 'good' pastor can 'rightly' guide you to those serves a sinner can preform for the good of the community and their own until full reconciliation and/or acceptance of the teachings has been joyfully embraced.

      Sadly, many parishes have not been prudent in their volunteer leadership or staff selections and policies which has added to the mass confusion and many a souls have suffered from this neglect of spiritual stewardship.

      It is really quite simple ... I know I have been there, therefore I know the emotional blocks that may arise in one's mind that makes the 'simple' seem hard and unfair. And, since I have been there, I can also list the broken state of some parishes because the ministries or shepherds are 1) one too busy to hear the cry of the sheep, 2) have yet to learn the story of the soul and apply the lessons to individuals in their fold, particularly applied to souls beginning the journey, 3) have not taken seriously how to address the sins of our time and properly instruct their ministry leaders and teachers, 4) or their Bishops have yet to lead them to the best practices and hand-on this information, 5) clericalism of their staff that hampers the parish priests or other ministries, 6) their own weaknesses or agendas, and 7) a host of others, including the 'sinner's' attitudes, such as obstinacy.

      The good news might be that these real life situations are making the topic harder and harder to ignore, and the universal Church might begin to offer universal guidance that is consistent, clear in its direction, and encourages one-to-one personal spiritual guidance/care for each case - pastors & individuals working together. But, the bishops, shepherds and ministry leaders need the individual who desires to learn and grow in holiness as well. - Signed, "Sorrowful Heart"

      Continued in next section.

    2. Continue from "Sorrowful Heart":

      The sinner has the responsibility to learn their faith, to read, to pray from their hearts, and to know themselves and their sins. HUMILITY will help the soul to pause and say,'why is my pastor saying it is okay to engage in sex outside of marriage when I hear others within the church (incl. Popes) say this is not so?' Who is feeding me error, and then desire to seek the truth where it leads and accept it. Humility is needed to NOT take positions w/in the community even though they know they would excel in the task for the 'good of the other(s)—as in their spiritual good.

      Example: Humility and intellectual honesty would stop one from becoming a Religious Teacher when one is living in a state of 'persistent mortal sin with no desire to change one's lifestyle or sinful conduct' for the good of the spiritual wellbeing of the souls in their care. Or a 'Catholic' who embraces reincarnation and knows this is against the teachings of the Church would, out of humility and intellectual honesty, not take a teach'g position which could become an occasion for temptation to sin by inserting errors.

      Likewise, a couple who has not reconcile their marital arrangement with the church, should not be a leader/instructor in marriage prep classes, or be asked to lead a archdiocesan marriage campaign. Humility would say this is not prudent and not rightly ordered. This does not mean they should be barred from providing insights to a pastor or appropriate ministers on how the community might better their care for those in their situation, etc. Nor does it bar them, per se, for being support volunteers for a cause. These activities might even assist in the conversion and understanding of the faith and their own struggles, but they should not be in leadership teaching positions when they do not fully embrace the teachings, or our struggling with a particular related doctrine.

      Know I did not receive communion for over 15-years, not because some pastor told me not to, but because I was honest with the reality I did not believe in the Real Presence, I had doubts. The decision made was out of respect for my parents and their belief, and respect for Church, since there was a possibility that the Church's teachings maybe true; hence, I removed myself from receiving communion and started my journey to find Truth. I made no big deal about it, I just accepted the reality of my state of mind and spiritual condition, and conformed my actions to this reality. I just did it, and I wasn't always on that path of finding Truth either ... I became side tracked a lot—and this is related to some gospel truths too, about sin and blindness.

      My heart does ache for these women and others because their souls have not been cared for as the souls should have been. Their confusion tells me this and I wonder where their families (parents, siblings, cousins) were in aiding to this confusion as well. The article does not address this at all. There is more to each of these stories that only the priests, their bishops and the parties involve know, including their families. What is known is that there is confusion in the pews, in families, administrative offices of parishes, Catholic schools, and among bishops and pastors themselves. - Signed, "Sorrowful Heart"

    3. Sorrowful Heart expresses it better than I do. Thanks SH.

  8. Absolutely non sequitur. SH keeps talking about "sins" and "sinners" and all this. That's not what this is about. It's about a relationship.

    How would you feel if told you had to hide the most important person in your life in order to be "discreet." That sharing your life with that person was a "scandal." That to be "humble" you need to downplay their importance to you and be vague about the role they play in your life, they place they hold. It's evil, downright evil.

    1. SH asked me to post this response:

      A Sinner ... some relationships are just to be avoided despite one's feelings, since feelings and desires can be wrongly ordered. In answer to your question on 'how I would feel', well sinner I have been there, been told that, and I can tell you it was painful not in the way you would think, but because I realized I really screwed up and being humble eased that pain and gave a level of peace. The emotional storms are passing and all is well. Trust in the Lord. SH

    2. I'm closing comments on this now.

      Never despair of God's mercy. He changes relationships.