Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Decatur, IN: Catholic Priest Refuses to Allow Gay Man to Sing at His Grandmother's Funeral

Yet another story has gone viral involving a gay man being discriminated against by church leadership during one of his most challenging moments.

A man named Connor Hakes from Decatur, IN, was preparing for his grandmother's funeral early last week, which was to be held at St. Mary's of the Assumption Catholic Church. The plan was for Hakes to sing a song at the funeral. But the priest denied that request because Hakes attended a gay pride rally at some point in the past:
I can no longer sing at my Grandma's funeral, because I attended a gay pride rally and a picture was posted publicly (years ago). The priest's reasoning is by attending such event, I am opposing the Catholic Church's fundamental marriage belief. Both my Grandma and Grandpa would be disgusted by their parish. Their compassion and empathy was abundant, no matter who you were. They saw beyond race, religion, sexuality, and social class. They loved everyone. That is what is means to be a Christian. That is what it means to be Catholic.
Hakes then posted a copy of the letter that he received from Father Bob J. Lengerich of St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church. You can click on the image to make it larger and more readable, but the condensed version is that Father Bob was worried that allowing Hakes to sing at his grandmother's funeral was create a situation that "could scandalize our congregation and neighbors." Because Hakes is gay, he isn't allowed to sing at the funeral. And because of the way that the church structured the service and the burial, it would be impossible for them to insert Hakes into another portion of the funeral.

This went over like a lead balloon, of course. Father Bob denied the request to sing a song via letter, which then got posted online by Hakes. The letter went viral and is all over social media and in the general media. And any sense that Hakes had that Father Bob was actually concerned about him was completely missed:
“This Priest had judged me and really formed an opinion about me without ever communicating with me,” said Hakes... “This was coming from a man, a priest out of my home Parish that I have always felt very loved and welcomed in... All of a sudden I felt very ostracized.”
Keep in mind that Hakes wanted to sing a song as his grandmother's funeral. Nothing more.

As it is, Father Bob missed a great opportunity to represent the Christ to this grieving man. And he's probably done more in one letter to make sure that Hakes and others like him will never return to the Church, Catholic or otherwise.

Meanwhile, St. Mary's Parish is trying to do some damage control with this statement:
Having become aware of the painful situation at Saint Mary’s Parish in Decatur, the diocese is working on fostering healing and reconciliation between the pastor and the Hakes family. We encourage all to move forward with genuine Christian love and mercy and with respect and prayer for one another.
Good luck with that. Hakes and his family have filed a formal complaint with the Diocese.

No comments: