There has been much buzz in the last week concerning a teenager who reportedly was denied Confirmation due to his Facebook page supporting same-sex marriage. Like most sensationalized media stories I smelled a rat and held off posting about it without further information. I even saw a headline on a tech site about it and the headline mistakenly stated Communion instead of Confirmation. Well now the priest involved has spoken to LifeSite News:
… Fr. LaMoine, the pastor of Assumption Parish in Barnesville, told LifeSiteNews.com that there were other concerns that contributed to the decision to delay Lennon’s Confirmation, and that the final decision was made by Lennon himself, not the priest.
According to Catholic teaching, Confirmation is a sacrament of initiation that confirms Catholics as “mature” Christians. It is usually administered to young teens.
Fr. LaMoine said that his conversations with the Cihak family began in early October, when he sent a letter to Lennon’s parents, Doug and Shana, encouraging them to start coming to church to support their son.
The priest told LifeSiteNews.com that he only discovered Lennon’s gay marriage post by accident on October 25, the day after having a two-hour meeting with the family. During that meeting the priest had brought up the fact that the Cihaks were not coming to church, as well as “other matters” that the priest said, “I can’t get into here.” No mention was made of Lennon’s views on marriage during that meeting.
The following day Fr. LaMoine’s secretary, who is Facebook friends with Lennon, chanced upon the controversial post and alerted the priest to it.
The priest says that he then telephoned Lennon, and in the course of that conversation the boy said he had chosen not to go forward with Confirmation.
Lennon’s post came days before Minnesotans were slated to go to the polls to vote on an amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman. It showed him holding a pro-marriage sign that he had defaced to express his support for “equal marriage rights.”
The priest admits, however, that once he knew that Lennon supported same-sex marriage, and was unwilling to retract his views, that he would not have been able to confirm him.
“You can’t have people out there saying things that are so contrary to the central teaching and doctrine of the Catholic faith, and going through Confirmation,” he said. “After he put it out in the public, we would have looked like a bunch of hypocrites in confirming him.”
As usual Father James Martin S.J. who is always willing to jump in on any story involving same-sex marriage or same-sex acts before all the facts are in said:
Deeply disturbing. Denying confirmation to a teenager because of a Facebook post on same-sex marriage is shortsighted. To have the family feel unwelcome in the parish is worse. To have the mother feel permanently estranged from the church is even worse. How many teenagers are denied confirmation because they are spiteful or do not forgive?
Typical moral equivalence. I wonder if Fr. Martin was a parish priest exactly how much denial of the Catholic faith would be acceptable before he could not confirm someone?
I know at one time for those being confirmed they were trained and then later asked questions before being confirmed. If a bishop or priest thought they were not yet prepared the confirmation would be delayed. Like many things in the Church today people’s experience with this will probably widely vary by location.
Though I would like to look at one of Fr. LaMoine replies regarding looking like a bunch of hypocrites if he was Confirmed. I think the main concern should be with the young man. If he had wanted to go ahead with Confirmation he would have been affirming what he didn’t believe in the Baptismal promises regarding the “holy Catholic Church.” Pastorally this is quite a difficult problem since same-sex marriage support among the young is fairly high and no doubt there are many receiving Confirmation who have an inadequate understanding of what the Church teaches which is in contradiction to the messages they are being bombarded with. Mostly we need to pray for this young man.
The news media once again is trying to apply the Communion wars narrative down to a Confirmation war narrative. Any stick will do. That this story went forward without anyone speaking to the parish priest says a lot about the media. Another of the media memes I have been reading more an more lately was “Jesus didn’t deny Judas the Eucharist.” We should always accept theological opinions from the media that mostly denies both Jesus and the Eucharist – well maybe not. There is certainly some questions as to whether Judas did indeed receive the Eucharist. Regardless the distinction between a private sin and a public sin is more at the root of the matter regarding Canon law. Canonist Ed Peters looks at Confirmation and advocacy of ‘gay marriage’ regarding proper disposition.
The picture of the young man with a defaced yard sign that supported traditional marriage has also been all over the media. I do wonder how a photo on his Facebook page got released to the public and whether this was done with his permission?