A British mom was horrified when she learned that her 7-year-old son would not be able to make his First Holy Communion. She says the reason he was denied is because he has Down Syndrome. According to Clare Ellarby, the Diocese of Leeds wrote a letter saying that her seven-year-old Denum Ellarby “lacks the ‘concentration’ necessary to prepare for Communion.”
I was raised Catholic and likewise, I’ve raised my children as Catholics. Yet I’ll be the first to admit I have some issues with the teachings of the Catholic Church. One of the biggest hurdles I face in terms of agreeing with their views is their stance on gay marriage and homosexuality in general. As I see it, how can any religion teach that loving anyone is wrong? I teach my kids the opposite and I have been very open with them about not agreeing with all the Church teachings but believing very much in God and helping others. If they choose to take on another religion as they grow up, I would be absolutely fine with it.
I also have issues with their smaller views. For example, I don’t believe that unbaptized babies won’t go to heaven and I also don’t believe that a sweet boy like Denum should ever be denied receiving Holy Communion. I don’t believe a church should turn anyone away let alone a child. Their initial assertion that Denum lacked the concentration necessary to receive the sacrament is offensive. And how many 7-year-olds really fully understand the sacrament anyway? Especially today, when so many over-the-top parents make the sacrament all about the dress, the venue and the party. The church changed their tune, of course, after Mrs. Ellarby went public:
“Denum’s family has not participated in the regular life of the Church or in the preparation preceding First Communion. We hope that this will change as Denum grows and we are working with him and his family to help him achieve this.”
If that were the case, they would have said upfront that the child needed to take the religious instruction required, instead of saying the boy lacked “concentration”. Mrs. Ellarby is naturally upset: “It’s just disgusting. I feel really let down by the Catholic faith.”
It is things like this turn people away from the church and question their faith. I’ll never question my belief in God but incidences like this often make me doubt my choice of religion. At the same time, there are wonderful people I have met in the church who have impacted my life and my kids’ lives. Yet if I had to rechoose a religion, I’m not sure I would pick one. Some of the kindest and most giving people I know are not religious but believe in a higher power, spirit, universe, or God. While I’m a deeply spiritual person and firmly believe in the goodness of people and the wonder of our world, the man-made laws that govern organized religion leave much to be desired.