An area woman was denied Communion at her mother’s funeral last month after a priest new to her parish learned she was in a same-sex relationship.
Carol Parker and her partner of nearly 20 years, Josie Martin, live in the small town of Chula, Mo., and had been attending St. Columban Catholic Church in Chillicothe, Mo., for 12 years when Ms. Parker’s mother passed away on Dec. 26. The obituary listed Ms. Parker as a surviving daughter and also mentioned her partner.
Later that week, Ms. Parker received a call from Father Benjamin Kneib, informing her that she and Ms. Martin would not be allowed to receive Communion at the Dec. 30 funeral.
“It was a shock to hear him say that,” Ms. Parker said. “I never expected that, especially at my mother’s funeral.”
She added that at the funeral, most in attendance chose not to take Communion out of respect for her and Ms. Martin. Despite this show of solidarity, the women no longer feel welcome at the church and have begun visiting another an hour from their home.
“That was our faith community. It really took away a lot of things for us,” Ms. Parker said. “He (Father Kneib) would still like to see us there, but I don’t feel like I’m welcome if I can’t take part in the main focus of the Mass.”
She provided PROMO, a Kansas City-based advocacy organization for the LGBT community, with a Jan. 1 follow-up letter Father Kneib sent her in which he further explained his decision. According to a press release from the organization, the letter stated that “having a same-sex attraction is not sinful in and of itself ... it is only when a person moves from attraction to willfully acting upon it that the situation becomes a sinful matter.”
Father Kneib also apologized to Ms. Parker that the events that had transpired took place at the time of her mother’s funeral. When contacted by the News-Press, Father Kneib had no comment.
Ms. Parker said she hopes that the priest might “open his eyes and fully receive the LGBT community into the church.”
“We’re all God’s children, and we have every right to receive Communion,” she says. “Even the pope has said, ‘Who am I to judge?’”