Wednesday, February 29, 2012

More gay...

Fr. Marcel Guarnizo: The Host Nazi?

A woman who is a self-professed lesbian goes to Communion at her mother's funeral and is denied Eucharist. That's a story that's been floating around the Catholic blogs today. The story is here.

The situation, as reported, tells of the priest behaving thusly:
A lifelong Catholic and former Catholic school teacher, Barbara says she hadn’t even considered that her sexual orientation would be a problem with Father Marcel until she stepped forward to take communion.
“He said, ‘I can not give you communion because you live with a woman,” Barbara says.

Of course, there is more to the story as the article relates. I feel bad for both the woman and the priest.

The woman probably understands that the Church does not discriminate due to her sexual preference and, especially at her mother's funeral, taking Eucharist is important to her. It's, I'm guessing, "tradition". I would surmise she's uninformed on exactly what Eucharist is and how it must be taken.
I say that because weekly I am presented with young and old Catholics and even priests who are not clear on the concept. One priest even told me that "at weddings or funerals" it's ok for anyone to receive Communion. When I asked him to back it up, he said it "wasn't in a book". So there's that.

The priest is doing what we do as priests. He wants to offer Mass for the Dead with solemnity. It's, I'm guessing, "Tradition". He is probably solid on his knowledge of what Communion means and what conditions one must meet before taking the host or cup. He also, obviously, may not understand that some people just don't know any better.
And there are better ways of bringing up the "teachable moment".

So here's how I would have handled it (and have handled it before):
A. I would contact the person beforehand and say, "I know you will be here for the funeral. I pastorally suggest that you consider going to Confession before taking Communion since you (insert transgression here). If not, then please do not take Communion."
The Communion Denial is News in some places.
B. I would let the thing play out and after the Mass, contact the person and tell them that I gave them Communion so as to not make a scene but would like to discuss with him/her more about Eucharist and what conditions must be met before they take it again.
C. I would give them Communion. Assume they are going to do what they are going to do and there is no good way to do otherwise. Especially at a funeral where something such as a lay "eulogy" is allowed. It's just not pretty. Ever.

  Plus, I always think of  St. Paul's injunction:

Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are ill and infirm, and a considerable number are dying. If we discerned ourselves, we would not be under judgment; but since we are judged by [the] Lord, we are being disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.

In most cases, usually funerals, I go in that order. Some have vowed to never come to Mass again (which is sad but they didn't really have much of a track record before) while some have come back to Mass, even regularly. I wouldn't do what the priest did. Why?
Because I never assume, even if someone says that they have a gay lover that they are "making love". I never assume sexual sin on the part of anyone really, even if they are heterosexual and living together.

In my experience, I've seen couples who live cities apart have more sex than some who actually "cohabitate". I have also seen gay persons live in chaste relationships with men or women they discreetly refer to as the "significant other".

It's an interesting case and one that begs prayer on our part.
For both the priest and the woman.
And of course, for the repose of the deceased of whom the whole story whirls around.