Judge Sara Smolenski, chief judge of the 63rd Michigan District Court, received a call from the priest in St. Stephen's Catholic Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, asking her not to attend the communion.
"This is not about me against the priest or about me against the church," Smolenski told CNN. "That sounds like selective discrimination. Why choose gay men and why now?"
Smolenski, 62, said that Rev. Scott Nolan, St. Stephen's priest for about three years, called her on November 23 and said, "It was good to see you at church on Sunday. Because you and Linda is married in the state of Michigan, would like you to respect the church and not reach communion. "
Smolenski was baptized in St. Stephen. She and her nine brothers attended church school from the first to the eighth grade. His parents were married in the church in the 1940s.
Communion is a significant and sacred act in Catholicism. Through this sacrament, Catholics unite with Christ and symbolically form a single body according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Vatican Website. To be denied communion is essentially to be denied the right to holiness of Catholicism. Former Vice President Joe Biden He was denied communion in a church in South Carolina last month, as were other politicians, usually for their positions on issues of division.
Denying communion is done on a case by case basis. Other parishes accept gays more and do not withhold this sacrament, Smolenski said. She was already distancing herself from the church lately, after tensions increased when the priest denied communion to a same-sex couple during Mass earlier this year.
"He publicly avoided the couple," Smolenski recalled.
This led her to branch to another church for a while. But St. Stephen was Smolenski's lifelong parish. She returned and even received Nolan's communion on November 17. Six days later, he received the call from Nolan.
"It definitely looked like a slam dunk," said Smolenski.
Priest says denying communion is "painful"
Smolenski married his partner for more than 30 years, Linda Burpee, in March 2016 after the Supreme Court ruling. marriage equality law. The marriage was released, not by choice, but because Smolenski is an elected official, she said. Smolenski was elected to the bank in 1990 and appointed supreme judge in 1996.
She and Linda gave the church financially, including $ 7,000 in June 2017 for St. Stephen's renewal.
Nolan said CNN WOOD Affiliate that Catholic teaching gives him no choice in matters of communion. He told the broadcaster that he does not want any of his conversations about receiving communion to be public, but this denial happens with some degree of regularity.
"Some of these criteria are related to what is happening in that person's life and what they believe, what they are doing and what they are not doing," Nolan said.
He acknowledged that the denial of Holy Communion is painful for the denied.
"This is also a source of great sadness to me in my own life as a priest," said Nolan.
The Grand Rapids Diocese has issued a declaration on behalf of his bishop, supporting Nolan's decision. The statement directed Smolenski's service and generosity to the community, but included a phrase from Pope Francis' "Amorus Laetitia:" Those who approach the Body and Blood of Christ cannot hurt that Body, creating scandalous distinctions and divisions among their own. members ".
The statement said inclusion and acceptance are a hallmark of the diocese, but such acceptance is presumed "by respect for individuals for the teachings and practices of the Catholic community in general."
"No faith community can support the public contradiction of its beliefs by its own members," the statement said. "This is especially true in matters as central to Catholic life as marriage, which the Church has always maintained and continues to maintain, as a sacred alliance between a man and a woman."
Smolenski has read the bishop's statement and feels that the denial of his communion is leading to divisions in the parish. Micki Benz, 40 years of parish in St. Stephen, sympathizes with Smolenski. Benz recently changed churches because he finds it difficult to be part of a community where gays are discriminated against.
"It was a growing parish, a harmonious parish, a vibrant parish," said Benz. "Today we are a parish of division and dissension."
Smolenski pointed to the big picture, saying that even Pope Francis wants people to be kind and kind, and that the Catholic Church must face bigger problems than their sexual orientation.
Earlier this month, while speaking to members of the International Criminal Law Association, the pope condemned the speech that discriminates against people's homosexual orientation.
"I am who I am because God made me that way," she said.