Communion denial of married lesbian judge called “very violent”

A priest in the United States has barred a life long parishoner and married lesbian from receiving Holy Communion.

Fr Scott Nolan recently informed Kent County District Court Judge Sara Smolenski she should not receive communion at his church.

The Diocese of Grand Rapids said it supports the decision.

“No community of faith can sustain the public contradiction of its beliefs by its own members”.

“This is especially so on matters as central to Catholic life as marriage, which the Church has always held, and continues to hold, as a sacred covenant between one man and one woman,” the diocese said in its statement.

Smolenski was baptised in the parish church, educated in the parish school. Her parents were married there and she recently donated $7000 to the building fund.

Smolenski said that St Stephen church helped form her faith.

“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,” she said.

Smolenski married her life long partner in a civil ceremony in 2016.

Open about her sexuality, she had never been denied communion before.

On November 17, 2019, Nolan offered her Holy Communion, however on November 23 Nolan phoned her to inform her of his new rule.

Nolan has not responded to media who want to know what brought about the change.

Natalia Imperatori-Lee, a professor at Manhattan College who studies Catholic ecclesiology, is calling the communion denial a “very violent act”.

“To deny a parishioner who approaches the altar for communion … is to replace her conscience with his own, and to usurp the mercy of God,” Imperatori-Lee told HuffPost.

“I can’t think of anything more antithetical to ministry than that.”

While Catholic teaching on same-sex marriage is clear, some are asking if LGBTQ people are being singled out.

Lisa Sowie Cahill, a theology professor at Boston College says it seems the reason for a Catholic priest denying someone communion is more about sexuality than any other issue.

The Church does little about those who contradict Church teachings on e.g. environmental justice, welcoming the stranger or the death penalty she says.


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