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Can laity preach at Mass? Chicago parish offers pulpit to same-sex couple

Jonah McKeown   By Jonah McKeown for CNA

Alex Shingleton and Landon Duyka deliver a 'Gospel reflection' during Mass at Old St. Patrick's in Chicago, Ill., June 19, 2022. / Old St. Patrick’s/vimeo.

A Chicago Catholic parish is facing questions after the pastor allowed a couple in a same-sex marriage to offer a “reflection” in lieu of the homily at a June 19 Mass.

The parish, Old St. Patrick’s, is a historic and prominent parish on Chicago’s west loop. The priest celebrating the Mass, Father Joe Roccasalva, introduced the two men immediately after proclaiming the Gospel and said they were to give a Father’s Day “Gospel reflection.” According to canon law, laypeople are not allowed to preach homilies during Mass — only the ordained, meaning priests, bishops, and deacons, are allowed to do so.

Upon taking the lectern, Alex Shingleton and Landon Duyka — who say they have been members of the parish for a decade — described their same-sex marriage as a “blessing” and the adoption of their two children as “miracles.”

“Let’s be honest, there are probably not too many gay dads speaking on Father’s Day at many Catholic Churches on the planet today,” one of the men said.

Later in the presentation, one of the men stated: “We wanted to raise our children in the Catholic Church…On the other hand, we didn’t want to expose our children to bigotry and have them feel any shame or intolerance about their family.”

The men described as a “miracle” the fact that they had found an LGBT-affirming community at the self-described “radically inclusive” Old St. Patrick’s parish, as they said they had experienced rejection and a lack of welcome at other Catholic parishes.

The Catholic Church teaches that people who identify as LGBT should be treated with dignity and respect, but also that homosexual acts are sinful and that homosexual unions — even if recognized as marriage by governments or society — cannot be approved by the Church under any circumstance.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that “‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.” At the same time, the Catechism and popes have drawn a clear distinction between homosexual acts and homosexual inclinations, the latter of which, while objectively disordered, are not sinful.

“Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection,” the Catechism adds.

In terms of the question of laypeople giving homilies, Father Pius Pietrzyk OP, a canon lawyer, told CNA in written responses that although the allowance of the reflection was technically a clear violation of the law, Catholics should not merely be concerned with the letter of the law, but also the reasons behind it.

“[The law] expresses the Church’s understanding of the role of the priest in the life of the parish community,” Pietrzyk explained.

“More importantly, it expresses the essential link between the munus sanctificandi [duty to sanctify, or consecrate] and the munus docendi [the duty to teach], which is rooted in the sacrament of holy orders.”

Pietrzyk said he hopes that the men who spoke at Old St. Patrick’s continue to participate in the Catholic Church.

“We should continue to encourage these two men to participate in the life of the Church,” Pietrzyk stressed, but reiterated that the fact that they are living publicly as a same-sex married couple — a state the Church teaches to be sinful — cannot simply be ignored.

Moreover, Pietrzyk described the priest’s decision to allow the men to speak during Mass as a “politicization of the Eucharist.”

“The selection of these two as [homilists] on Father’s Day must be seen for what it is, a political act of submission to modern sexual ideologies and an act of rebellion against the teachings of Christ and his Church,” the priest said.

In March 2021, the Vatican’s doctrinal office clarified that the Catholic Church does not have the power to give liturgical blessings of homosexual unions, writing that “it is not licit to impart a blessing on relationships, or partnerships, even stable, that involve sexual activity outside of marriage (i.e., outside the indissoluble union of a man and a woman open in itself to the transmission of life), as is the case of the unions between persons of the same sex.” The ruling and note were approved for publication by Pope Francis.

The Archdiocese of Chicago has not responded to questions on the matter from other Catholic publications.

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  1. Oh, fabulous.

    So our parishes are now advocating for offbeat sexual practices.

    I hope that by commenting on this abomination I will not be turned into a pillar of salt.

  2. This practice is emesis. Pure emesis.

    Let’s get down to some brass tacks regarding Chicago’s Cupich and Francis’ Catholic restorationists seeking reverence for Christ rather than bowing down, back and sideways to seriously disordered and dishonored laity and priests.

    VCII’s Sacrosanctum Concilium says the liturgy “is thus the outstanding means by which the faithful can express in their lives, and manifest to others, the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true Church. It is of the essence of the Church…. that in her the human is directed and subordinated to the divine, the visible likewise to the invisible, action to contemplation, and this present world to that city yet to come, which we seek.”

    Canon law, 767 says: “Among the forms of preaching the homily is preeminent; it is a part of the liturgy itself and is reserved to a priest or to a deacon; in the homily the mysteries of faith and the norms of Christian living are to be expounded from the sacred text throughout the course of the liturgical year. Whenever a congregation is present a homily is to be given at all Sunday Masses and at Masses celebrated on holy days of obligation; it cannot be omitted without a serious reason.”

    In 1980, John Paul II promulgated “Inaestimabile Donum”
    Instruction Concerning Worship of the Eucharistic Mystery
    Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship

    The document addressed common liturgical abuses at that time, one of which was lay people giving homilies.

    From the document: “One who offers worship to God on the Church’s behalf in a way contrary to that which is laid down by the Church with God-given authority and which is customary in the Church is guilty of falsification.”(Aquinas)

    “None of these things [liturgical abuses] can bring good results. The consequences are–and cannot fail to be–the impairing of the unity of Faith and worship in the Church, doctrinal uncertainty, scandal and bewilderment among the People of God, and the near inevitability of violent reactions.”

    “The faithful have a right to a true Liturgy, which means the Liturgy desired and laid down by the Church,…Undue experimentation, changes and creativity bewilder the faithful….The Second Vatican Council’s admonition in this regard must be remembered: “No person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove or change anything in the Liturgy on his own authority.”

    “3. The purpose of the homily is to explain to the faithful the Word of God proclaimed in the readings, and to apply its message to the present. Accordingly the homily is to be given by the priest or the deacon.”

    • I agree with you. But also, look at where they’re at, Chicago. Another one of those “blue cities”. That said, what else can one expect?!

  3. [Pietrzyk] “…reiterated that the fact that they are living publicly as a same-sex married couple — a state the Church teaches to be sinful — cannot simply be ignored.“

    Oh, Jonah, not to worry. The Diocese of Chicago isn’t ignoring that fact.

    Not hardly.

    They’re celebrating it.

  4. And we don’t think that the local Church (and here I am referring to the diocese) in Chicago hasn’t apostacized? Wake up…someone with authority.

    • Yes, are we seriously to believe that behind this event there is no backstory of a leadership vacuum, or hhinting, acquiescence or even approval?

      Something like Mission Impossible! “As always, should you or any of you be caught, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions. This tape/disc will self-destruct in five/ten seconds. Good luck, guys,” or whatever.

      But, hey, the idea is to get something to stick to the wall, and then to call those feces the “paradigm shift.”

    • Not really two “fathers”; one is the “husband” and the other is his “wife.” And when the wife clarifies this arrangement, the husband will back her up.

    • Fatherhood through leagalized kidnapping is not fatherhood. Neither is worshiping of one’s sins at Mass an act of fatherhood.

  5. “[T]here are probably not too many gay dads speaking on Father’s Day at many Catholic Churches . . .We wanted to raise our children in the Catholic Church . . . On the other hand, we didn’t want to expose our children to bigotry . . .”

    Why, may I ask, do folks who do not believe in what the Church teaches want to join?

  6. “The Archdiocese of Chicago has not responded to questions on the matter from other Catholic publications.”

    Really – what more need be said?

  7. This charade is nothing more or less than an obscenity. The irony that we pretend to advance the study of Sacred Scripture while casting its teaching and The Teacher to the gutter is heart wrenching. We engage in a “new evangelization” while endorsing sin and the damnation of souls — yes, it is “new” indeed. We are in the throws of a demonic self-deceit as we hurl toward ecclesial suicide.

  8. Where is the Pope on this matter??? They remove Fr. Altman cause he states a true comment in his sermon and this is accepted??? Know wonder many are leaving the church and going to church’s that go by the bible. This needs to be brought to the attention of the Pope.

      • Ok, so explain the logic for me. Fr. Altman is removed because of his conservative positions on various issues but James Martin SCH, is permitted to violate church teaching on sexuality and receives support from his bishop when doing so. How exactly does that work?

  9. Reportedly [Lifesite news] a nationally known drag queen requested a Mass from new Phoenix Archbishop Dolan in which the morally disturbed man was permitted to speak, presented the Archbishop with an international drag queen award. I pray for former Archbishop Olmsted who I’m certain is deeply pained by Pope Francis’ purposeful slap down of a faithful priest who fearlessly represented the truth revealed by Christ.
    Added to the Chicago Mass, and the increasing similar abominations permitted, and we must confess openly for sake of a bewildered, scandalized laity, the faithful who remain and are being subverted in their faith, abetting by Pope Francis, in context of all the high profile appointments of men who either practice homosexuality or favor it from Archbishop Paglia, Cardinal Hollerich, Fr James Martin et al the list goes on. What can the Daemonic do when we have Christ standing beside us? Persecute us? Bring it on I say. Let the whirlwind of Christ’s righteous wrath sweep them from the stage of life to the pit where they belong [do we pray for them? Yes. They are included in all our prayers for conversion]. Faithful Catholics are at this momentous point in Church history obliged to take a stand in favor of the faith revealed by Christ and condemnation of these abominable acts and this manifest Vatican policy.

  10. It has to be recognized that many ‘priests’ are in reality only people who saw the priesthood as a way to an easy life. They are without a deep felt faith and go with what they believe to be popular views from their reading of the secular press and trends. They have little or no apostolic or ecumenical inclinations. If the world is pushing the agendas of homosexuals, they will believe that going with the flow is what must be done. Some even believe that because sinners are people too that their sin must be accepted if they are to be accepted as candidates for salvation. The problem is that most truly faithful people cannot see this. Parish councils should learn to be continuously putting their priests to the test and refusing their right to serve if necessary.

  11. Well to top it off. One the parishes I go to or technically am a member in the Chicago Suburbs introduced a new principal, who by apparances and speaking demeanor is Gay. During Mass when he introduced himself he did not wear a suit, just some sort of tee shirt and is not married. The parish priest did not introduce him, so there ya go. I hope he is not Gay, but given what I just identified above, he fits it. BTW, just before the last blessing at Mass, the parish priest said he was leaving for a few weeks to see his mother in another country.

    • Mike, since you posted this publicly, I’ll call you out publicly. You have judged a man because, in your mind, he fits a stereotype that may or may not be true. This principle may very well have same sex attraction. He may also be valiantly fighting to live a chaste and holy life. You don’t know. You cannot know. Yet, sanctimoniously, you have committed the sin of detraction. Publicly. It is attitudes and actions like this that drive people away from Christ and His Church. Remove the plank from your own eye before looking for the speck in his. In justice you owe the man an apology and a retraction.

      I’m not a proponent of Ghandi, but I completely understand the quote attributed to him: “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

      • Agree I definitely have a lot of planks in my eyes, no doubt. Always helps to have someone point out my sins. Maybe on the golf course you could analyze my game and prevent my too frequent quadruple bogeys.

        Nevertheless this situation concerns me. How this will play I don’t kmow. If he would have worn a blazer or suit etc. and a better presentation, I would not be so concerned. The school already is on the verge of not having enough students. This I do not think helps, will see.

        Just wondering do you apply the same comments to people who critize Catholic politicians that support abortion. If so I’ll add that to the plank in my eyes.

      • Whether a man is attracted to a woman or another man, he must aim for a chaste life. This is not an easy task and if we fail, we have confession. We have counsel to live virtuous lives, yet God gives special admonition against homo sexual practice.

        The church is a place where sinners congregate to be cleansed and enriched through God’s eternal word. Where God has set boundaries, we must respect what he says. To promote what God considers an “abomination” within the Church is totally unacceptable.

        If we truly love a person, then we must speak the truth in love.

  12. No surprise that this happened at Old St. Patrick’s in Chicago. It has been a laboratory for “the reform” for decades. I lived in Chicago from 1986-91, a few blocks from the parish, and witnessed it first-hand.

    In sum, the AD of Chicago is run by the “quite intentional apostates” (to employ the phrasing used by Fr. Imbelli in his 2021 essay “No Decapitated Body,” though of course he wasn’t naming names, he simply admitted it was widespread and implied that it extended far upward), led by the apostate sodomo-clericalist “His Eminence” Blase Cupich.

    As my dear friend states, who escaped the nightmare of the “GB” spectrum of the LGBT lifestyle, “It is insanity for adults to teach [anyone] that it is OK for a man to inseminate someone else’s intestines.”

    What is patently obvious is that our Catholic Church, in a vast number of places, especially at the Archdiocesan level (e.g., LA, CHI, NY, DC) is under the control of apostate hierarchs and their chanceries. For example, LA, which is advertised to be led by an “orthodox” (i.e., faithful) shepherd in Archbishop Gomez, promotes LGBT ideology at its annual REC conferences. A false shepherd, and an apostate LA diocesan establishment.

    The Cardinal Newman Society has stated it can only recommend 10% of so-called “Catholic” universities to parents (some 20 or so out of approximately 200). I take that as a rough benchmark for the state of what Fr. Imbelli has admitted is the widespread and “intentional apostasy” in the Church at large.

    Having been desensitized by the contempt of the First Commandment, shown by Pontiff Francis in his 2019 orchestration of idolatry, the apostate Church is now primed for the “sanctification” of sodomy proposed by the apostate Cardinal Hollerich, SJw, executor of the ideology of Pontiff Francis.

    Old St. Patrick’s is the prototype of the new-post-Christian-Pagan cult, with many gods, including Her Occult Majesty Pachamama, mistress of all who possess “the mind of McCarrick.”

    Prayer and fasting is commanded by Jesus, before confrontation of this evil.

  13. “Then many of his disciples who were listening said, ‘This saying is hard; who can accept it?’ Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, ‘Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.’ Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. And he said, ‘For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.’ As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.”

    Father Roccasalva, this is how Jesus approached teaching hard truths. Might I suggest doing as Jesus did? Sure, some people may leave the Church when you do so. Some may revile you for doing so. That’s what you signed up for in your vocation. The time has come for you to embrace it. Can you do what Jesus has called you to do?

  14. Additionally I would add, could hierarchy preach at now much greater length for marriage prep to fiancé and fiancée? Anthony Esolen responds in The Vatican Confesses:
    “You cannot have the sexual revolution on Monday, and then wag your finger on Tuesday and tell the man and woman that they have done ill, shacking up as they do, or using porn. And so they must study hard and listen to sermons and reorient their whole arrangement of sexual habits and expectations. And then on Wednesday you go to the [LGBT] parade and clap your hands. It is incoherent. And there is more. The fact is, there are Catholics among us who have not bent the knee to Baal. Why should they be made to suffer for the sins of others? And where are such Catholics to be found, dear hierarchs? You know where. But many of you have done your best to vilify those few havens of health and fidelity” (Anthony Esolen The Vatican Confesses in TCT).

  15. I hope you realize that if a Chicago priest spoke out against this Cupich would send him to a mental health facility.

  16. Chris in Maryland above – Thanks for the tip re Fr. Imbelli’s article.
    Always lucid and even-toned. Clarity and charity. Unbeatable combination.

    • Gilberta –

      You’re welcome, and thanks in return.

      I respect Fr. Imbelli enormously for his 2021 essay, which readers can find here at link to Nova et Vetera:

      In his 2021 essay, he revisited the theme of apostasy, which he had addressed in a previous essay in 2000. His 2021 essay’s purpose was to assess the fruits of the 2nd Vatican Council. The money quote is repeated here by me:

      Imbelli wrote that in 2000 he stated: “There is abroad in the Church a measure of innocent and sometimes quite intentional apostasy.”

      But in 2021, he revised estimate, stating: “I would now omit the words ‘measure,’ ‘innocent’ and ‘sometimes.’”

      For a priest of his intellect and faithfulness, and his reserved demeanor in speaking and writing, to speak so candidly about the devastating truth, was surely painful for him to do.

      But he said it, and may God bless him for saying it.

  17. Matt. 7:15. Would Jesus be ok with Satan taking over the pulpit? To Love God is to love him unconditionally – let’s pray for these sad individuals and the priest who befriended Satan.

  18. There is simply no willingness to assert catholic morality across the board for sexual purity. Far too many are wanting to go with the flow of secular moral stands. We are at a point in the world where being “mean” appears to Trump almost all other moral failings except the oft repeated accusation of racism. Church leaders appear afraid to speak the truth for fear of being seen and “mean” to gays, lesbians or unmarried couples living together. This was the case of the fall of Donald Trump. Trump, who could slice and dice political enemies in a way generally admired by fellow New Yorkers, met his downfall by the votes of “college educated” (but evidently not too smart) white suburban women who voted Biden. “We teach our kids to be NICE and not to BULLY” was their rallying cry. Yes. Evidently suppression of “meanie” Trump was the MOST important goal.Even now, it appears.Its ok if terrorists come through our borders, or drug cartels kill 100,000 of our young people each year, and food shortages, even for babies prevail, and that massive inflation guarantees their kids will never own a home in most urban areas, our lowered quality of life is all worth shutting up Trump. Well count me as someone who believes in “sticks and stones”. As someone who is mature enough to know politics is a miserable and dirty game. And as somebody who feels a politician’s DECISIONS to protect his people is more important than whether or not he is “nice” and occasionally produces a mean tweet. That Catholic priests are following secular leaders ( like kneeling with rioters) and now succumbing to the pressure to Ok “anything goes” in order to avoid the hurt feelings which may come of speaking the church’s moral truth is very very sad. Once day they will have to stand before Jesus to give an account of their willful failure, and take responsibility for leading the sheep astray. Its my opinion that this couple, no matter how nice they may be, had no business flaunting their relationship in any catholic church. I am in fact not interesting in anyone flaunting their sexuality of ANY type in my face. Doesnt anyone still believe that certain things are too personal and intimate to be bandied about in public, and that it is crude to do so?? ESPECIALLY a priest? I dont have much hope that the church’s moral teachings will be presented strongly at all under the current Pope. No leadership has been shown in this area, as is demonstrated by the current state of the German church, which is taking steps toward schism.The priest who permitted this presentation should be removed.

  19. Honest question: Can someone please explain what “full communion” actually means anymore.

    This parish is in full communion and in good standing, but the SSPX isn’t.

    It doesn’t make sense.

    Moreover, for those of us “in communion” it also begs the question: What am I “in communion” with? and “Do I want to be?”

    PS: I’m not an SSPX attendee.

  20. Ok, so explain the logic for me. Fr. Altman is removed because of his conservative positions on various issues but James Martin SCH, is permitted to violate church teaching on sexuality and receives support from his bishop when doing so. How exactly does that work?

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