A gay man denied communion at his mother’s funeral has received an apology from members of the Roman Catholic hierarchy.
The Rev. Mark Beard, who conducted the July 10 service told Tim Ardillo he could not receive the sacrament because he had married outside the church, but Ardillo believes it’s because he is married to a man, reports The New Orleans Advocate (not affiliated with this publication). The following Sunday at the parish, St. Helena Catholic Church in Amite, La., the congregation received a handout quoting the Bible’s warning against taking communion “in an unworthy manner,” that is, if one has not confessed and repented of certain sins — and the Catholic Church does consider same-sex relationships sinful.
Ardillo, who now lives in Indiana, grew up attending St. Helena, even serving as an altar boy. Since the denial of communion, he has received apologies from the Diocese of Baton Rouge and the Archdiocese of New Orleans, the latter coming personally from Archbishop Gregory Aymond, the New Orleans publication reports.
Ardillo said he still believes in Catholicism but has drifted away from a formal relationship with the church. He had hoped the funeral would be the beginning of a renewed commitment to the church, but after the communion incident, that is no longer possible, he said.
“I don’t have it in me,” he told The New Orleans Advocate. The refusal of communion, he noted, came as he was standing by his mother’s casket with his young son, who was about to receive a blessing from Beard. If the priest had discussed the matter with him beforehand, he would not have attempted to receive communion, he said.
Some Catholic leaders interviewed by the New Orleans news outlet said that being gay or being married outside the church should not be sufficient reason for being denied communion, and that it is up to each individual to determine if he or she is worthy of the sacrament.
But others have been refused communion because of their same-sex relationships. In a prominent case in Maryland in 2012, a partnered lesbian was denied the sacrament during her mother’s funeral; she received an apology from the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., which oversees the parish in question, and the priest who turned her away was reassigned. A similar denial happened to a lesbian couple in Missouri last year, at the funeral of the mother of one of the women.