Friday, November 16, 2012

The Catholic Church: still messing with children.

This is not a post about recent news of a Roman Catholic priest sexually abusing a child.  Although it would be pretty easy to do a post about that.

Instead this is a post about a Roman Catholic priest punishing a child for having the audacity to express an opinion with which the priest disagrees. The Fargo-Moorehead Forum has an article about how a family in Barnesville, Minnesota is being denied access to the sacraments at the local Roman Catholic church, Assumption Church.

As I am sure most people know, voters in Minnesota were asked to vote on a proposed amendment to the Minnesota Constitution that would have defined marriage as being between one man and one woman (as it is currently defined by statute and by a Minnesota Supreme Court decision from 1971(although that part of the decision might be dicta)). The Catholic Church in Minnesota wanted the amendment to pass. However, the Church did not take the position that Catholics were obligated by virtue of their religion to vote for the amendment. Instead, Minnesota Catholics were "encouraged" to vote for the amendment.
The encouragement did not work on 17-year-old Lennon Cihak of Barnesville. Instead, Mr. Cihak did posting on Facebook encouraging people to vote against the proposed amendment in mid-October. As a result, Mr. Cihak was denied the Sacrament of Confirmation by Father Gary LaMoine, the local priest. Mr. Cihak learned he was being denied the sacrament after Father LaMoine called Mr. Cihak's mother and told her that her son would not be confirmed. Oddly, some of Mr. Cihak's friends who "liked" the Facebook post were allowed to be confirmed. Perhaps this is proof that it is better to follow than to lead.

Perhaps feeling that denying Mr. Cihak one sacrament was insufficient punishment, Father LaMoine then started denying the Sacrament of Communion to the entire Cihak family. This is a big deal given that Roman Catholics are required to participate in Communion at least once a year and encouraged to do so weekly. As Pope John-Paul II noted, Communion is the "heart of the church."

I am not a Roman Catholic theologian so it is not entirely clear to me what sin the Cihak family committed that has resulted in their being excommunicated from their parish. But assuming a sin was committed, I wonder how Father LaMoine thinks he is following the teachings of Jesus Christ. As the Gospel of Mark tells us, Jesus came to eat with the sinners not kick them away from the table. One is also reminded that in the Gospel of John, Jesus advises the Pharisees that "he who is without sin" should cast the first stone. It appears Father LaMoine thinks he fits that bill.

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