For anyone who thought that the liberalizing perspective of Pope Francis had settled the matter of acceptance of same-sex couples in the Catholic Church, a story from Missouri this week serves as a disappointing rejoinder. Carol Parker and her partner Josephine Martin, both longstanding members of the Saint Columban Catholic Church in Chillicothe, say that they were denied communion by their priest at the funeral for Parker's own mother.
Parker has been active in the church, serving as both a cantor, lector, and singing in the choir, she told Fox in Kansas City. But the insidious, underhanded long-con the two spirit-grifters were perpetrating against god and man was revealed unto Father Benjamin Kneib when the obituary mentioned Martin as Parker's longtime partner.
"He had called me the day of the rosary and said he wouldn't be able to give us communion because of our same-sex relationship," said Parker.
The couple says they will never step foot in the church again. Parker said it took away a final opportunity.
"It was very important to me, my last opportunity to worship here at the church with her," Parker said. "
Martin said she and Parker don't understand why the priest compounded the pain of a funeral with his decision.
"To be singing in the choir and be lectors, and everything, it's all God. He just took it away in a second," Martin said. "I just really don't understand where his heart is."
It's not exactly a great time to be a part of a same-sex couple in Missouri. Earlier this year the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that the longtime partner of a state trooper who died in the line of duty was not eligible for survivor benefits because they weren't "technically" "married." Which, you know, isn't allowed there under the law. On the plus side, "consensual sodomy" is no longer considered Sexual Conduct of the First Degree as of a few years ago, so that's nice.
Much was made of Pope Francis' remarks earlier this year that the Church was too obsessed with issues like same sex relationships. On gay priests, he said, "If someone is gay, who searches for the Lord and has goodwill, who am I to judge?... The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this very well. It says they should not be marginalized because of this (orientation) but that they must be integrated into society."
Back in September, the New York Times interpreted his words as the beginning of a sea change throughout the church.
The pope's words are likely to have repercussions in a church whose bishops and priests in many countries, including the United States, have often seemed to make combating abortion, gay marriage and contraception their top public policy priorities.
It doesn't seem like that message has made it all the way to Missouri just yet. Maybe it will in time for the next time Parker's mother dies.