It’s pretty unthinkable that communion would be denied to a gay Catholic standing before a priest during a regular mass, but having this occur during a funeral to the daughter of the deceased, is heart-breaking. You probably read all about Barbara Johnson’s story last week and how one priest threw compassion to the wind at a time when showing compassion should have been his most important role. The Archdiocese of Washington apologized for the priest’s behavior, but not the priest. Hopefully, the archdiocese won’t stop there.
Most of the comments on mainstream news articles regarding this incident are very supportive of Barbara Johnson, or very upset with the priest and/or the Catholic church, but not all of them. Of those that support the priest, there is an assumption that he knew more about her than that she identified as homosexual and lived with a partner. That alone is not enough information to deny communion. Worse than these assumptions, are those who seem to be making up or passing on unsubstantiated reports about a private conversation between the priest and Barbara Johnson. They offer no sources or evidence, but report as fact things that might make it seem like she was asking for it.
I don’t question anyone’s right to believe the priest was right or wrong, but this small but loud element of Catholics (some other religions too), is unsettling. Their vision seems so narrowly focused, that they don’t dare to try and look at this from any other point of view. If they hear something that supports what they want to believe, they spew it as fact, rather than asking a follow-up question. The don’t even notice when rules are not applied evenly across the board. Can you imagine if every priest was judge and jury on who got communion…. “you’re living with your girlfriend, I assume you’re having sex… Next!”….. “I smell Egg McMuffin on your breath and doubt you’ve observed the Eucharistic Fast…. Next!”…. “You’ve been married five years now and haven’t complained about not being able to have children, I bet you’re using birth control… Next!”
When I look around at the magnificent world in which we live, I believe in something! Defining It is another matter and I think I’d be a fool to try, but surely love, compassion and integrity are part of it, so that’s where I aim. Even though we may subscribe to a specific religion, each of us really lives by our own set of rules. Peace seems to show up when we focus on the thing upon which we agree.
Note: I’m not mentioning the priest’s name on purpose. I can’t see how giving us someone with whom to be angry would help.
Photo Credit: Ihar on Flickr