Popular Catholic writer James Martin, SJ, posts a link on his Facebook page today to a story about a teenager in Minnesota who was denied confirmation for expressing support on his Facebook page for same-sex marriage. (To his credit, Fr. Martin describes this as "deeply disturbing," leading me to wonder what sanctions he might face eventually for his own Facebook activity.) From Inforum of Fargo and Moorhead:
BARNESVILLE, Minn. – If you want to be a Catholic, you have to be 100 percent Catholic.
That’s the lesson one family here learned after their 17-year-old son was denied confirmation after the priest at the Assumption Church here found a pro same-sex marriage post on the teen’s Facebook.
The decision by the Rev. Gary LaMoine to deny the religious rite of passage for Lennon Cihak in mid-October shocked his mother, who said her son has gone to church every week and volunteered around the community in preparation for his confirmation this year.
“You kind of know the Catholic beliefs, but I never thought they would deny somebody confirmation because you weren’t 100 percent. I guess that’s what shocks me,” Shana Cihak said.
The Facebook post in question was a photo of Lennon in front of an altered political sign. Originally reading “Vote Yes” on the Minnesota Marriage Amendment, which would have changed the state’s constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman, Lennon scribbled out the “yes” and replaced it with “NO!”
Shana, who said she was confirmed at the same church, was called into a private conversation with the priest soon after the photo was discovered and was told her son wouldn’t be allowed to complete confirmation.
Fr. Martin's take on this:
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? How many are denied confirmation because they don't believe in the entirely of the church's doctrine contained in the Creed? How many are denied confirmation because they disagree with a section of the Catechism? Is any teenager 100% Catholic? Is any Catholic? We are in danger of losing sight of what Jesus called weightier matters of the law.
Well said, Father Jim. My prayer is that this young man's family finds refuge in a more welcoming and inclusive community.
Read full story here.