Pastor: "We want you here." But don't sing at your grandmother's funeral.
  • https://www.buzzfeed.com/skarlan/a-gay-man-was-not-permitted-to-sing-at-his-grandmothers-fune

    "...the diocese is now working on fostering “healing and reconciliation” between Lengerich and the Hakes family."

    Where I'm from, the family of the deceased gets first say at who sings what at the funeral. Total scandal, though. Didn't expect to see this letter again at the top of my Facebook feed this morning. I'm all for the Church's teachings and whatnot, but this kind of overt disrespect for the bereaved (put in writing and signed) is outright revulsive. Let's save the politics for later!
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  • Reval
    Posts: 181
    Where I'm from, the family of the deceased gets first say at who sings what at the funeral.

    Really? Anyone could get up and be a cantor? What if it was someone who openly dismissed and ridiculed the Church?
    Your parish has zero input on who can be a cantor or soloist?
    Besides, no one said he couldn't SING at the funeral, just cantor.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,709
    More diocese should be regulating who sings at a funeral. I have had to 'move of the bench' numerous times to be replaced by rock bands and folk guitars and people who have no business playing in the sanctuary at funerals here. It is a disgrace, inappropriate, and the Church winds up handing over its responsibility for the liturgy to the family. Abuse.
  • The widely prevalent notion that the family of the deceased have untrammeled choice of the music at the funeral of their deceased is as absurd as the parallel and widely assumed notion that the bride and groom have absolute say in the music for their wedding. It is the Church, through authority delegated to clergy and musicians which has always the final word on any music for any rituals or services that IT performs in ITS churches. If people want music that the choirmaster and priest deem unseemly for its rituals there is nothing at all to prevent these folk from listening to it all they want at their receptions, gatherings, and homes. This applies not only to choices of music but to musicians involved. No one who is not a staff musician at any given church is in any way entitled to sing for weddings or funerals. If non-staff musicians perform, they do so with the approbation and at the pleasure of the choirmaster and pastor.

    But! That is not what this letter is about, is it! This letter is preposterously judgmental in that it makes assumptions about the young gay man that its author is in no position to make - namely that the young man's 'orientation' means that he engages in sex that the Church, rightly, deems wrong. He very well may, but forbidding him from singing an Ave Maria at his grandmother's funeral is a mean act which rather trumps in nastiness any presumed sexual activity by the young man. Has this nasty priest somehow failed to be aware that large numbers of gay priests (many of whom are not faithful celibates) actually say mass and perform other sacraments of the Church - including forgiving sins?! There are other sexual sins which are the equal ('equal' meaning 'on a par with', not in any way 'inferior to') of any this young man may or may not have engaged in - fornication, sex out of wedlock, adultery, cheating on husband, cheating on wife, unnatural 'birth control', sexual practices in or out of wedlock that are not open or conducive to pro-creation - all these (and our churches are full of them!) are quite as awful as gay 'sex' for the simple reason that they are all equally disgusting perversions of Christian sexuality and make moral cretins out of those who practice them; but, I 'somehow' feel very safe in saying that it is highly unlikely that anyone who is guilty of them will be forbidden to sing an Ave Maria at his grandmother's funeral. This priest deserves to be sat down and set straight in no uncertain terms by his bishop. He has willfully inflicted an incredibly mean, judgmental, and holier-than-thou act of nastiness on this young man who loved his grandmother and had a desire to sing an Ave Maria at his grandmother's funeral. How crass and callous! How loveless!
  • Reval
    Posts: 181
    I think that there are probably a lot of things we'll never know. Is there more to indicate an "issue" than one picture on FB? This could just as easily been a story if the priest didn't "allow" him have communion, or be a lector, or anything. It's the church's liturgy, it's nice if family members can be included, but this seems almost like a "bridezilla" moment - - "bereaved-zilla". I deserve to sing a solo/ read / receive communion / be a an altar server because it's my Grandma's funeral! I think he's using his Grandma's funeral for some rather unflattering publicity to himself.
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  • I think it was really mean and an intentional jab at someone to make them feel bad. And I didn't mean to imply we use Death Metal music in our community's funerals! They get first say, not final say. Please.
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  • Aren't the Canon 1331 Section 1 excommunicated forbidden from ministry? It is the principal punishment of interdiction.
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 1,259
    Clearly, this letter is a response or follow-up to a previous conversation between, at the very least, the priest and this young man. ("As pastor, I have every right" sounds like a response to, "you have no right to say that I can't sing at your church," of which it doesn't sound like he's a permanent member, as the priest mentioned the man's "returning" to Decatur.)

    I disagree that it is intentionally "mean." Singing his grandmother's funeral (Mass?) is included in a list of things he is unable to do - as though he had already been told that he cannot be a cantor at their parish because of his chosen lifestyle.

    What it absolutely does not say is, "Hi, I've been made aware that there is a gay member of this deceased woman's family, and that that person is you. Please don't try to come to my church and sing during her funeral. Sorry for your loss, though. Still love you, anyway."

    -----
    Somewhat unrelated, but I was asked to sing my brother's wedding at his bride's home parish in TX. Later, I was told I couldn't actually do so, because their church only allows its own cantors to sing any liturgy. While I thought it was somewhat silly, I didn't start complaining that they thought their musicians superior to me, or anything like that.
    -----
    Anyway, we can't know every bit of their conversation.
  • JonLaird
    Posts: 245
    We do not need to be as rashly judgmental of the priest as he is accused of being toward the young man. Nobody here has all of the facts -- we have a very one-sided depiction of the situation.

    Perhaps the letter is highly inappropriate -- I'm not going to read it since it was not intended for my eyes. Many of us have fired off an email, blog post, or forum post without thinking it through. It makes us think better of it the next time...and so the next time, we write it, read it over, and then delete it or tone it down.

    For all we know, the priest dropped the letter in the mailbox, thought about it, and went out to get it, only to find that it had already been picked up. Or perhaps he thought better of it only the next day, as the young man was reading it. Maybe he tried to contact him and ask him not to open the letter. Maybe he is really as utterly mean, callous, and heartless as some here think. Somehow I don't think so. The point is, we have no idea what all is going on here. I'm inclined to think that Buzzfeed isn't an infallible authority concerning all of the facts.

    If we are going to give the young man a pass because he is grieving, we should acknowledge that we don't know all that is going on in the priest's life. Priests are fallen human beings too, subject to all of the same pushes and pulls as the rest of us. We do not need to add to the pain of the situation by taking part in the pummeling of one side or the other.
  • The letter looked very well thought out except the part where his bishop has to publicly apologize for it!
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 3,177
    A thread concerning this very letter (redacted) was begun here, and then deleted by chonak, at the request of its o.p. , I realize that this has now been made public, but perhaps it might be better to close or delete this thread, too.
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  • Interesting.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,955
    In the days when I attended mass once a week for an hour, I had a much higher opinion of the church. After I worked for it, got to know some of the cast of characters, and saw its inner workings, my estimation of it went down considerably.
  • God removes the rose-colored glasses off our face.
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  • A few things since this has come back again, and I'm not as emotional as I was before:

    1. I think it is a salient point to note that we don't have all the information in the situation, and we do indeed have a very one-sided version of this ordeal. Others here have been quite level-headed and reasonable.

    2. The young man in question here has submitted the letter and his side of the story to the local media. In my view, this is an attempt to scandalize the Church and bring community pressure against the pastor.

    3. I really don't agree that lay people performing the role of cantor are actually ministers, since I thought ministry was reserved for the ordained.

    4. @Continuousbass, are we from the same area?
  • Nope I'm in California.
  • Anyways priests who discriminate unjustly against the lay faithful should be publicly admonished. "Question Authority" is not just for civics class.
  • Reval
    Posts: 181
    To me, this issue has something in common with the thread from a few weeks ago, where a young saxophone player wanted to play with the choir. Is the liturgy under the direction of the church, or is it a participatory event akin to a talent show?
    I have a friend whose father died, and they were planning the funeral arrangements. My friend was very upset because her 10-year-old niece, was not allowed (by the priest) to play a few pieces before the funeral. I realize that in the original case discussed here, the grandson was a vocal performance major at IU, and may be a very accomplished singer, so it's not quite the same. But I think there are some parallels.
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  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 1,259
    priests who discriminate unjustly


    We have no proof of "discrimination," and cannot condemn the priest of being "unjust" simply because his decision hurt someone's feelings.

    People don't have the right to do anything and everything they may wish to, simply because they have a certificate that says that they are capable of doing that which they desire to do.

    Surely, as musicians, we are all aware of at least one person with a music degree who has been passed up in favor of someone without a music degree - be it in a church, choir, or ensemble. While some may complain, verbally, to friends or family, a public stink, usually, is not in order.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 3,177
    I didn't want to get involved with this, but, perhaps it stems from a mistaken idea about our "rights" and that everyone has a "right" to do what they want to do in the Liturgy. No one has a "right" to do anything except that which they are commissioned/ordained to do, especially anything ministerial. And yes, liturgical music is a ministry, just because laymen have been acting on behalf of missing ordained/instituted lectors and cantors for the past umpteen years, doesn't mean that that role is no longer ministerial, and no one has a "right" to a ministerial position in the liturgy, it is up to ones superiors to help discern if one ought to be a minister.

    Frankly, I find this whole idea about "questioning (legitimate) authority" within the Church to be appalling -- it's one thing to question if a superior over-steps their authority -- like certain bishops regarding a certain recent encyclical -- it's another when a superior is within their authority. In my personal opinion, the pastor was acting prudently to avoid giving scandal by not allowing a person who is, it seems, publicly living contrary to the teaching of the Church from exercising a ministerial role within the liturgy. I may or may not agree with his choice in this particular incident, but he was well within the bounds of his authority as pastor to make such a choice to regulate the Liturgy at his parish. This is all I will say on the matter.

    P.S. CCooze mentioned some of this in the above post, which appeared before I finished typing.
    Thanked by 3CCooze Reval hilluminar
  • If simply being gay were enough to disqualify one from making music in the liturgy, there would be a lot of vacant posts and silent choir lofts throughout the country. From the smallest to the largest and highest quality music programs. It would seem that what the priest in question posits as a universal truth is in fact a matter of judgment that many orthodox and respected clerics would approach and decide in a very different way.

  • I do see the parallels to all these other incidents, except the grandson was being medicinally punished, and I think the holy fathers have been clear there should not be discrimination.
  • If simply being gay were enough to disqualify one from making music in the liturgy, there would be a lot of vacant posts and silent choir lofts


    And a lot more still if being in any kind of irregular relationship, or any state of serious sin, was included.


    Seriously, funerals are just not the place for making this kind of point. The church is a hospital for sinners, not a health-spa for saints.
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,225
    it's one thing to question if a superior over-steps their authority -- like certain bishops regarding a certain recent encyclical


    So St Paul should have shut his mouth? Check your Canon Law about who has what 'authority.' Others, who are Canon Lawyers, have already done so.
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,225
    Some additional info has crept into the scene; apparently the singer in question had been a public advocate of the LGBT agenda a few years ago.

    Connor Hakes said it was a picture of him attending a gay pride rally shared on his Facebook page last year that prompted Father Bob Lengerich, the pastor of Saint Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church in Decatur, to deny his request to sing at the funeral.


    Hmmmm.
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  • Does that mean he self-excommunicated?
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,188
    Jared et al, its not that "being" gay is the problem, it is the actions associated with it which constitute the issue. If I read the Church's position on the issue, its the acting on that position publicly that creates the problem. Yes, it is true that many choir lofts and also many altars would be empty if homosexuality were itself sinful. But as I understand, advocating same sex marriage or anything short of a chaste life constitutes a problem.

    Now, is the Church wrong to hold to that position? That is not for me to say as I do not have the theological prowess to answer the question. And perhaps this is not the place to debate that question. But the story is far more complicated than has been presented to all of us. I regret that the complexity has not been yet revealed.

    Personally, the range of responses from diocese to diocese or even from parish to parish make this question profundly difficult. One can move from one parish to another and get a spectrum of answers. Some are hardline and others more soft. The human condition I suppose.....

    I know many gay musicians and priests who constantly struggle with this question, so I understand this in a very intimate way. However, that does not dileneate the official position and the gray area between official position and the lived human life is where we find ourselves.

    Ah yes, life and humanity. And doctrine and law...difficult things for us all.

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  • Reval
    Posts: 181
    If simply being gay were enough to disqualify one from making music in the liturgy, there would be a lot of vacant posts and silent choir lofts

    And a lot more still if being in any kind of irregular relationship, or any state of serious sin, was included.

    Yes! If you read the letter, the priest specifically says that this parish is consistent across the board, divorced and re-married, people who are openly living in relationships that might cause scandal. Etc.
    Once again, we don't have the whole story, we don't know if this about more than one FB post.
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  • Jared is spot on.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 3,177
    dad29, I think you misunderstand me. St Paul was correct: it was St Peter who over-stepped his authority by teaching error -- he needed to be corrected, just as certain bishops who shall remain nameless have over-stepped their authority, trying to change things that cannot be changed, and they ought to be corrected, too.

    If the pastor is consistent in his policy as regards the regulation of the liturgy within his parish, then I don't think that there is much to complain about other than having hurt feelings.
    Thanked by 3CCooze Reval dad29
  • If the pastor is consistent...

    ...consistent insofar as applying similar repudiation to all sexual deviance from what may result in procreation of children, or other immoral life styles.

    If he is, then I shall, appropriately, temper my above remarks about him. It cannot be denied, however, that there is a very common double standard in these matters. The Church does even marry other people whose sex lives avoid procreation, but, since they are 'normal' and not gay this doesn't seem to too many folks to be repulsive, though it is. I know and have known gay colleagues and gay priests, and have had gay professors, all of whom are stellar people who struggle with their own selves in addition to what is dumped on them by society. They don't deserve this. The Church and all of humanity would be the poorer but for their unique gifts. For one thing, there would be no Sistine Chapel ceiling... and the list would be endless.

    Actually, I am far less upset by such people as this young man and his presumed immoral life style than I am about priests who unworthily 'minister' by celebrating the sacraments though they are un-faithful celibates, and the clergy and hierarchs who are responsible for the paedophile scandals - and even yet, there are scads of Catholics who remain more upset, even outraged, at the scandal than the sin, which, truth be known, is centuries and centuries old. Humph! Talk about people who are unfit to 'minister' at Catholic worship! Why, we even protect them! (Providing that they are ordained)
  • And let them retire in the lap of luxury.
  • Actually, I am far less upset by such people as this young man and his presumed immoral life style than I am about the clergy and hierarchs who are responsible for the paedophile scandals - and even yet, there are scads of Catholics who remain more upset at the scandal than the sin, which, truth be known, is centuries and centuries old. Humph! Talk about people who are unfit to 'minister' at Catholic worship! Why, we even protect them! (Providing that they are ordained)


    Jackson,

    The evil of some in the clergy (including whatsoever priests and Cardinals are guilty) does not and can not make the evil actions of other people good. I haven't followed this thread super-closely, but it seems to me that pointing the finger at some priests (past or present) who are guilty of evil is a smokescreen. Did this one particular priest commit any of these evil actions, surely, is the only relevant question to whether or not he can speak to the need to uphold the Church's teaching.

    Imagine if Pope Francis were, suddenly, inexplicably, to speak out against liturgical abuse? One would be glad of the statement, but it wouldn't persuade many, since he clearly makes the liturgy bow to his will when it suits him to do so.

  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,955

    Imagine if Pope Francis were, suddenly, inexplicably, to speak out against liturgical abuse?


    That's a good one, Chris. Best laugh I have had today. LOL
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  • Jani
    Posts: 441
    I clicked the link, skimmed the story, skipped the letter, and went straight for the gravy: the comments. What I saw were the now-typical responses from a select group of individuals who stridently advocate for one stance while vilifying and seeking to silence another. How "loving" and "tolerant" to call an ordained priest a cretin and a d-bag. We should all, and I mean every single one of us in this country, be afraid.
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  • Again, I think the singer involved bringing the story to the media has actually hurt his credibility: now he's just trying to build community resentment towards the priest as a revenge tactic. And that's exactly what I think he intended to do.
    Thanked by 1Reval
  • Thanks for your response, Chris -
    You are, of course, correct in noting that pointing the finger at A doesn't make the sins of B any less deplorable, nor was that my intent. Briefly put, the thrust of my remarks was that, too often, A castigating B is a case of the pot calling the kettle black. An awful lot of us seem not to mind this charade.

    I will be the first person to exalt the holiness and virtue of many of the priests whom I know and have known, or know about. One is sometimes utterly bewildered, astonished, at such sanctity of personhood. I will also be the first to notice that there are quite a few others who are performing 'ministry' in the Catholic Church who are a disgrace to humanity and, by virtue of being ordained, of being a priest, bask in good graces which would be pointedly denied any non-ordained and ordinary person of a similar unworthiness. People even come to their defense because they are 'an ordained priest', as if this makes them saints beyond reproach. They're not and it doesn't. This is a calumny.
  • Jani
    Posts: 441
    "Ordained priests" are in persona Christi. This assures the sanctity of the Mass and sacraments, no matter how creepy, cretin-like or d-baggy his behavior.

    There are awful priests. And no, they shouldn't be 'protected' when they are acting contrary to their collars, but despising them When they are doing their job is wrong. God will deal with them as He sees fit.
  • 1550 This presence of Christ in the minister is not to be understood as if the latter were preserved from all human weaknesses, the spirit of domination, error, even sin. The power of the Holy Spirit does not guarantee all acts of ministers in the same way. While this guarantee extends to the sacraments, so that even the minister's sin cannot impede the fruit of grace, in many other acts the minister leaves human traces that are not always signs of fidelity to the Gospel and consequently can harm the apostolic fruitfulness of the Church.
    ~Chatechism.
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  • Not to question or suggest mitigation of the Church's understanding and teaching of priests being in persona Christi, one might suggest that, in the case of some unfortunate ones, the normal lionisation, deferential treatments, near worship, etc., should be pointedly avoided in the case of those whose manner leaves much to be desired in the Imitation of Christ. Some of these are, but for a mere legality, neither subjectively or objectively definitely not 'in the person of Christ' outside their performance of ritual obligations. We have a right (and obligation) to expect better from many who are un-priestly and blatantly un-Christlike. One might also suggest that there are others, who from time to time and place to place, whose lives and acts should be noted as having been lived or performed in persona Christi though they lack the good fortune of having been ordained. One thinks of many of the saints, goodly non-saints, some even not Catholic, and of many whom we all know in our daily lives. One really does not have to be ordained to be in persona Christi. Is not being so the calling of all Christian folk? Is not the whole Church itself, ordained and not ordained (all of us who are the Church), in persona Christi? I think so. We are supposed to be and are called to be. When I approach a priest I do so as the approaching Greeks who famously came saying 'Sir, we would see Jesus'. Many times has my desire been fulfilled. Many more times have I been sorely disappointed by a callous and utterly shameless lack of love. And where there is not love there is not God, nor Jesus.

    It is notable that passages such as that quoted just above from the Catechism give a very wide berth and much 'wiggle room' (one might even say 'loop holes') to the ordained. Some of them really need it!
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,577
    Is not the whole Church itself, ordained and not ordained (all of us who are the Church), in persona Christi?

    Perhaps in the wide sense, but not in the narrow sense.
    And appropriate use of the term is the narrow sense (reserved to the ordained).
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,182
    I edited this thread to take the priest's name off the title.

    It's not really fair of us to discuss individuals and private communications on the forum; rather, it's better to focus on policies.
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  • francis
    Posts: 10,709
    Is not being so the calling of all Christian folk? Is not the whole Church itself, ordained and not ordained (all of us who are the Church), in persona Christi?
    ummm... no. Not at all.
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  • francis
    Posts: 10,709
    uh oh... I have been yellow boxed by JMO... sorry JMO... it's a theological issue... not personal.
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  • VilyanorVilyanor
    Posts: 388
    We are all called to be the person of Christ to all, but only some are called to act in persona Christi (capitis).
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  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,182
    Thanks for posting that, francis.

    Sometimes I hear people express themselves as though they thought the Church claimed an "in persona Christi" status for a priest 24 hours a day.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,709
    lol... Way too many also claim that for the pope.
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  • Jani
    Posts: 441
    How dumb of me! I guess I can also break the law in front of a policeman when he's off duty and out of uniform.

    If you want to specify that a priest can take off or put on his faculties like that, well I think that is playing a silly game. And no I never said I thought they were always "in persona Christi," but the fact that they EVER are sets them apart.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,182
    Jani, my comment above wasn't related to anything you wrote. (Otherwise I would have said so!)