Teen denied Catholic confirmation over FB post on gay marriage

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.

Category : The Lead

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17 Comments
  1. Kraut1701

    Fr. James Martin & Sr. Simone Campbell are the face of what is right in the Roman Church. The Vatican and the USCCB – not so much.

    Morris Post

  2. billydinpvd

    Scandalous. And I use the word advisedly.

    Bill Dilworth

  3. Nicole Porter

    Unfortunate, but their church has their own guidelines. Everyone knows where they stand. I for one am glad no one asked me what were my personal thoughts on the matter before I got confirmed here.

  4. Carole May

    And this is one of the reasons why we are seeing more and more Catholics at our newcomers coffee hours at my Episcopal parish.

  5. billydinpvd

    The full story is even worse – according to the article, the whole family has now been told they can’t receive Communion at that parish.

  6. Maplewood

    I certainly pray that the RCC in Barnesville, MN, comes to its senses about all this, and all parties reconcile.

    If not, I suggest the Cahik family contact a local TEC parish. They would be most welcomed there.

    I think a time has come for we Piskies to openly invite Christians who are disaffected or censored by their current denomination to visit our church. They may well find a home here. I know I did. I grow weary of being, umm, “diplomatic”?

    Kevin McGrane

  7. tgflux

    “I for one am glad no one asked me what were my personal thoughts on the matter before I got confirmed here.”

    That’s the point, Nicole: we don’t ask.

    Confirmands, like those being baptized, are asked to “respect the dignity of every human being”. It’s up to each individual’s conscience how that’s lived out.

    JC Fisher

    Cihak family, The Episcopal Church Welcomes You!

  8. Matthew Buterbaugh+

    And yet, sadly they probably won’t find a church that’s more open and accepting. That teen will most likely join the ranks of jaded young adults who want nothing to do with religion. As one of my parishioners often says, “We need a better PR guy.”

  9. Nicole Porter

    …”It’s up to each individual’s conscience how that’s lived out.”

    Nice to see you admit that,Mr.Fisher.

  10. Jason Wells

    It’s not about PR, it’s about evangelism. As far as I can tell, the nearest Episcopal Church is St. John the Divine in Moorhead, MN. That’s 25 miles from Barnesville, a town of under 3,000 people. The cathedral and parishes in Fargo aren’t much further.

    Why not have the priests there make a phone call to the Cihaks? Should there be a church plant closer to their home?

    Talking about being welcoming is easy. Wishing our PR was better is easy. Making it our own job to do is much harder.

  11. Just when I think the Roman Catholic church has maxed out on crazy…

  12. Just when I think the Roman Catholic church has maxed out on crazy…

  13. www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawllr4vbR4IJI

    One of the things we need to note, in all the Episcopal Church Welcomes You stuff is this quote from young Cihak:

    “I don’t want the church to be put down. I don’t want the Catholic religion to be put down,” he said. “It’s just the way the priest has things running. He’s so strict. He won’t loosen up about things.”

    He still believes in his church, just as we have held on in spite of Lawrence, Iker, Bennison, the whole ACNA crew, the screeds of the con-evos, and a lousy ABofC, still we believe the church we love is better than these people.

    He is the real hope of a future of unity and reformation. I simply pray his faith won’t be beaten down into mere dogma.

  14. Nicole Porter

    The priest was only following the beliefs of the Church he serves. If people have a problem with what the RC deems as essential to their faith, then they should leave, and I have no stake in that battle whatsoever because I have my own reservations about Roman Catholicism which is why I turned down RCIA 8 years ago.

  15. billydinpvd

    Nicole, the RCC does not teach that you have to vote the way that your priest tells you to, in spite of what some priests seem to think. Neither is there a requirement that you hold a certain political opinion (in this case, whether to vote for marriage equality or not) in order to receive the Sacraments.

    Bill Dilworth

  16. Nicole Porter

    Hi Bill, you know the USCCB seems to think otherwise, and they are the authority of their church here in the states. The teen publicly went against their beliefs. You know they hold no distinction between civil and sacramental marriage.

  17. Jim Naughton

    Nicole, Bill is right about this. There is no binding Catholic teaching on how one votes on this issue. And the USCCB itself would tell you that they are not the authority over the church in the states. The Vatican does not give them that freedom. This particular priest would not have the support of his bishop in many dioceses.

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