Indiana parishioner Connor Hakes, a music graduate, planned to honor his grandmother by singing at her funeral until he was told by his parish priest that because of his “gay lifestyle” he would no longer be permitted to. Father Bob J. Lengerich found a photo of Hakes and his friends taken at a Gay Pride festival some years back and told the stunned parishioner that he wouldn’t be able to sing at St. Mary’s of the Assumption Catholic Church because he had advocated for gay rights.
Hakes wrote on his Facebook page: “I can no longer sing at my Grandma’s funeral, because I attended a gay pride rally and a picture was posted publicly (years ago). The priest’s reasoning is by attending such event, I am opposing the Catholic Church’s fundamental marriage belief.
"Both my Grandma and Grandpa would be disgusted by their parish. Their compassion and empathy was abundant, no matter who you were. They saw beyond race, religion, sexuality, and social class. They loved everyone. That is what is means to be a Christian. That is what it means to be Catholic. Please SHARE!”
The hard line letter from father Lengerich lists the main reasons why Hakes was banned from singing at his grandmother’s funeral mass, outlining that “the Catholic Church forbids those who openly defy tenants of our faith to serve in (any official church capacity). This included people who have been divorced or remarried (with the benefit of a declaration of annuity), have openly supported abortion rights and are openly participating in unchaste same-sex relationships.”
Although the Church affirms the dignity of gay people, it nevertheless finds their relationships impermissible, the letter adds.
“The Catholic Church upholds the dignity of those with same-sex attraction. At the same time, it does not permit same-sex relationships or openly advocating for them because it causes a scandal…”
Hakes, who has sung for the church on several previous occasions, said his grandmother lived near the church and her family had been a member of the parish for generations.
On Tuesday St. Mary’s Parish issued the following statement:
“Having become aware of the painful situation at Saint Mary’s Parish in Decatur, the diocese is working on fostering healing and reconciliation between the pastor and the Hakes family. We encourage all to move forward with genuine Christian love and mercy and with respect and prayer for one another.”
Hakes and his family have also reportedly filed a formal complaint with leaders of the Diocese and are planning to meet with the leaders.