A Denver priest denied a group of Catholic women in Colorado communion because they wore rainbow-emblazoned face masks.
Susan Doty, 81, Sally Odenheimer, 71, Jill Moore, 64, and Cindy Grubenhoff, 48, wore the masks to show their support for a former teacher who was fired in January after the Archdiocese of Denver discovered that the popular educator was queer.
The four decided to attend Mass at All Souls Catholic Parish on Saturday, but when three of the four who chose to participate in the Eucharist reached the priest at the front of the church, each was denied communion and blessings, the Denver Postreports.
According to Doty, when the priest saw her face mask, he shook his head and gestured for her to move on.
“I felt demeaned, and I said to him, ‘This isn’t right,’ and then I moved away feeling so sad and kind of unbelieving,” Doty told the Post. “I went back to my pew and wanted to cry, but I tried to hold it in.”
A spokesperson for the Denver Archdiocese, Kelly Clark, told the paper that it wouldn’t discuss the allegation.
“[Mass] is a time to worship God, not a time to seemingly make a statement or enter Mass with the intent of provoking a response,” she wrote. “It is perfectly acceptable for a priest to decide to give a blessing instead of communion if it appears the person isn’t ready to receive the body and blood of Jesus Christ,” Clark said.
The women had banded together in solidarity with Barton, who was confronted last month by the Catholic school's principal with photos of her kissing another woman. After the meeting, she was terminated.
Archdiocese officials said the teacher had violated the terms of her employment contract.
Although none of them usually attends All Souls, Odenheimer saw an opportunity to support the educator and gathered her friends to put on LGBTQ-supportive gear and attend Mass in the parish where Barton was fired.
The women were taken aback when the priest denied communion but quietly moved on without making a scene during the ceremony.
“We were intent on not being disruptive at all but to be a witness to those who support the teacher,” Doty said.