Michigan diocese supports priest accused of LGBT Eucharist ‘discrimination’

Grand Rapids, Mich., Nov 27, 2019 / 06:55 pm (CNA).- A Michigan diocese said it supports a priest who told a parishioner that because of her same-sex civil marriage she should not receive the Eucharist.

“Inclusion and acceptance have been a hallmark of Catholic Churches in the Diocese of Grand Rapids throughout the diocese’s history. They remain so. They presume, however, a respect on the part of individuals for the teachings and practice of the wider Catholic community,” the Diocese of Grand Rapids said in a statement Thursday.

“No community of faith can sustain the public contradiction of its beliefs by its own members. This is especially so on matters as central to Catholic life as marriage, which the Church has always held, and continues to hold, as a sacred covenant between one man and one woman.” the diocese added.

The diocesan statement came after a Nov. 26 report from local news channel WOOD TV 8, which claimed that Fr. Scott Nolan of St. Stephen Parish in East Grand Rapid had “denied Communion,” to Judge Sara Smolenski, chief judge of the Kent County District Court.

Smolenski, 62, did not apparently tell the news channel that she had been denied communion during Mass, but rather that Nolan had instructed her by telephone not to continue receiving the Eucharist at the parish.

The priest did administer the sacrament to Smolenski Nov. 17, according to a letter some parishioners sent to Grand Rapids’ Bishop David Walkowiak.

The parishioners wrote that Smolenski stopped attending St. Stephens “last spring for fear that she would be denied the Eucharist,” as other parishioners apparently had.

While Smolenski attended Mass Nov. 17, and received the Eucharist, the parishioners wrote that Nolan subsequently “called her to demand that she ‘respect the church’ and not return for the sacrament in the future.”

Smolenski told the news station that: “The way he said it was ‘because you’re married to Linda in the state of Michigan, you cannot accept communion.’”

“I try to be a good and faithful servant to our Lord Jesus Christ. My faith is a huge part of who I am, but it is the church that made that faith, the very church where he is taking a stance and saying ho-ho, not you,” she added, also telling the local news station that she had devoted her life to the Church and recently given a $7,000 gift to the parish.

Smolenski reportedly told a fellow parishioner that she was attending Nov. 17 Mass to see whether Nolan would administer communion to her, according to sources in the parish.

The priest told WOOD TV 8 Nov. 27 that he “taught what all of the popes who have ever said something about the emergent family have said up to and including Pope Francis,” regarding the reception of holy communion.

Nolan said that he is required in his ministry to ensure that those who receive the Eucharist do so in accord with Catholic doctrine and discipline.

The Church teaches that homosexual activity is a moral evil, and that those conscious of grave sin should not receive the Eucharist. The Church also has taught that contracting a same-sex civil marriage can be “obstinate perserverance in manifest grave sin,” which would prohibit a person from being admitted to communion.

The diocese agreed with the priest’s version of events. “Father Nolan approached Judge Smolenski privately. Subsequent media reports do not change the appropriateness of his action, which the diocese supports,” the Nov. 27 statement said.

Nolan, 33, was ordained a priest of the Grand Rapids diocese in 2013.

Smolenski and Nolan have had previous run-ins. The judge is one of several parishioners who has criticized some of Nolan’s actions as pastor of the parish; which have included requiring that lectors at parish Masses be Catholics.

In October, Smolenski co-authored a letter to Michigan lawyers raising concerns about Nolan, who is chaplain to the Catholic Lawyer’s Association.

The letter said that Nolan had refused the Eucharist to two women in a same-sex civil marriage.

“This hurtful and humiliating action of publicly denying communion because they are gay has caused much hardship at the parish and in the greater community.”

“This act by Fr. Scott is a clear indication that he will continue to practice selective discrimination against members of our community,” the letter said.

Nevertheless, Smolenski wrote, “We acknowledge Fr. Nolan's right, under the authority of the Church, to deny communion to those who are not in conformity with the teaching of the Church.”

The diocese also recognized that right.

“Father Scott Nolan, pastor of St. Stephen Parish, has dedicated his priesthood to bringing people closer to Jesus Christ. Part of his duty in pursuing that end is to teach the truth as taught by the Catholic Church, and to help it take root and grow in his parish. Mercy is essential to that process, but so are humility and conversion on the part of anyone seeking to live an authentically Catholic Christian life,” the diocesan statement said.


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  1. The Church also teaches that contraception and sterilization are intrinsically evil. It is appropriate for the pastor to deny the Eucharist to homosexual/lesbians couples in “civil marriages,” but priests must also publicly proclaim every so often that physicians who prescribe contraceptives/sterilization and people who use it are not to present themselves for Communion either.

    • It would also be appropriate to explain that Catholics who don’t believe in the Real Presence should have the decency not to present themselves for Communion, either.

      • Unfortunately they often don’t. And it also has to be said that manifest public sin like this is on a worse level than any private sin.

  2. “I try to be a good and faithful servant to our Lord Jesus Christ.”

    Except for, y’know, those pesky morals that He expects me to have.

    “The judge is one of several parishioners who has criticized some of Nolan’s actions as pastor of the parish; which have included requiring that lectors at parish Masses be Catholics.”

    I cannot believe that anybody is actually so a)clueless or b)evil to think that the Church should have non-Catholic lectors.

    ““This hurtful and humiliating action of publicly denying communion because they are gay has caused much hardship at the parish and in the greater community.””

    Not nearly as hurtful as it would be for the people who receive Communion in a state of mortal sin. “Therefore, whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord.”

  3. From Lesbian judge denied Communion tried to get priest removed as chaplain from Catholic lawyer’s group.

    EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan, November 27, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — LifeSite has learned that the lesbian judge currently orchestrating a coup against the Catholic priest who runs the parish she attends has previously attempted to not only smear him as a bigot but has tried to get him removed as chaplain of the Catholic Lawyers Association of Western Michigan. 

  4. How wonderful that the Diocese is supporting him as a good and faithful priest. And what is it about these people who call themselves Catholics and then try to turn her into another church? There are plenty of nominally Christian churches in which homosexual couples and those in gay marriages can take communion. Why do they insist on receiving the Eucharist in the Catholic Church? Is it because it is the Church founded by Christ and in which the priest, by right of Apostolic succession, consecrates the Host to become the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ? Does that not say something to those who look to turning the Catholic Church into a version of it that suits their lifestyle choices? The Catholic Church and the precious gift of the Eucharist is bigger than Judge Smolenski, even if she is used to getting her own way.

  5. The part about donating 7K to the parish is telling. Christians shouldn’t publicly advertise their charitable donations in the first place and donations shouldn’t ensure special treatment for the donor.

  6. I am glad that Father Nolan took this courageous stand. I look forward to his denying the body of Jesus to anyone who has used contraception or is (or has been) involved in an alduleterous relationship. Thank you for your courage, Father.

  7. In this context the Catholic Church is like any other organization – to belong and get the bennies you gotta play by the rules. It’s really not complicated at all, which means essentially one thing – those who want the bennies but don’t wanna play by the rules will try to make it complicated.


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