Charlie Angus and Celina Symmonds had their lives turned upside down when they were told by their parish priests that they could no longer take communion because their stands on social issues conflicted with church teachings.
Only fitting since they have turned the teachings of the Church upside down.
Angus, a New Democrat MP who represents a northern Ontario riding, ran afoul of the Roman Catholic church over his support for the federal government’s controversial same-sex marriage bill.
"It’s quite disturbing,” said Angus, pointing to what he called "the rising militancy of language within the church. I went to Ottawa feeling that I would be speaking as someone rooted in a faith tradition and rooted in a justice tradition.
"Then your involvement in the sacraments becomes a political pressure point. It was unacceptable.”
Maybe one day they will realize that this was a mercy – to be spared receiving Communion unworthily. Unfortunately they will not experience mercy from many parishes who instead will affirm them in their sinful support of laws contrary to both the natural law and the Church.
Symmonds, who once managed the now closed Planned Parenthood office in Medicine Hat, Alta., had to find another place to be married about a month before her wedding in September 2002 after her priest discovered from a newspaper article that she was pro-choice on abortion.
"I was shocked,” says Symmonds. "When you grow up Catholic you grow up awaiting the day where you can walk into that great big cathedral with your husband. It’s something you dream of as a little girl.
"And it got crushed within seconds.”
An all too common idea of the Church as just a beautiful building to hold social events in with no connection to the moral order.
Angus, who represents the riding of Timmins James-Bay and lives in New Liskeard, has only attended mass a couple of times since the incident in the spring. "I haven’t accepted communion,” he said. His wife and three daughters have stayed away from mass.
"It’s something I don’t feel very comfortable discussing,” he said, his voice quavering. "So much of politics is spin … party position … (or) having some one-liners. But when it speaks to the essence of what you feel and what you believe, it’s very hard to rationalize it or to articulate it.”
Symmonds remembers well the day when the priest’s assistant phoned, and she hasn’t attended church since the incident. "It hurts that you’re told that you’re not welcome to be a part of something that was very precious in your life,” she said, her voice trembling.
"Getting the courage to go back, it’s tough because you feel ostracized as far as what you believe … You become intimidated going into a church because you don’t know, will I be welcome, will I be stared at?” [Source]
Maybe one day more people will realize that Communion actually means communion with both the mystical body of Christ and the teachings of Christ’s Church. The idea of community has been excessively stressed as the local body of believers to the detriment of its fuller Catholic meaning of believers united in truth and worship of God.