Should children with disabilities be allowed to receive communion?

May 03, 2011
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If you are Catholic, then the “Blessed Sacrament” is part of every Mass. Receiving the Holy Communion is an important part of Catholic, and other Christian, beliefs. What if a priest were to decide you were not able to comprehend what Holy Communion means? Can a priest look inside to read a person’s heart and make such a judgment call? Well, one priest in Texas did just that and refused to give communion to a child with cerebral palsy.

Irma Castro said she spent months getting her 8-year-old grandson, Kevin, ready for his first communion. But the priest at her Floresville, Texas, church refused to let Kevin participate in the Blessed Sacrament. Castro said Father Phil Henning refused and told her it was because Kevin has cerebral palsy, KSAT reported. According to Castro, Father Henning said that he did not believe Kevin had “sufficient knowledge” of Christ which is a requirement for first communion.

Father Henning of Sacred Heart Catholic Church of Floresville told Castro that Kevin has the mental capacity of a 6-month-old which meant Kevin “was not able to understand the meaning of receiving the body of Christ.” Instead, Father Henning offered an “alternative” to first communion. He offered the sacrament of the anointing of the sick.

Castro called the offer “offensive” since that blessing is normally reserved for those who are facing death. She is outraged that her grandson cannot participate in the religious milestone of first communion because the priest deems it so. She feels like her grandson is being discriminated against. This has caused her no small amount of hurt for her grandson. She said it makes her question not only the priest, but also her faith.

The Archdiocese of San Antonio, Deacon Pat Rodgers, had said the decision is usually left up to the pastor. He added, “It’s never our desire, hope or wish to withhold a sacrament from someone who wants or needs it.”

Do you believe that all children should be allowed to receive communion? Do you believe the priest is correct or that he knows this boy’s heart? The story does not specify what kind of preparations the grandmother worked on with her grandson for months. Not being Catholic, I don’t know all the ins and outs of their faith. If the hurt of this is making the grandmother question her faith, perhaps it is time to go above the archdiocese in San Antonio? Or perhaps it’s time to find a different church?

Image credit: GViciano

Author: Tessa

  • Diamondann

    On one hand, I agree with the grandmother, because her child should be allowed to participate in things for his age.  On the other hand, I kind of agree with the priest, who is trying to uphold and maintain the sanctity of what he considers a holy act.  I think the whole thing comes down to how he reacts, and given what we have seen here, I can’t say that he handled it too poorly. 

  • Asjjca

    I think it is so wrong for priests to deny communion to anyone!!!  I am a christian who truly believes in Christ and I was refused communion for not marrying an orthodox and I was baptized orthodox.  My husband, who is Catholic was also refused communion by the same priest for not being orthodox.  That is so wrong.  By doing this the Priest has judged us, which is a sin.  Yes it is holy and yes people should receive it if they truly believe and are free of sins.  But if I were not a christian or have committed a sin and a priest showed me kindness and gave me communion I may want to learn more about Christ and become committed.  Jesus did say that if 1 sheep was lost he would leave the herd to go find and bring back that sheep.  Jesus forgave and did not judge.  He died on the cross for all of us including the non-believers so that we may believe.  Who is a Priest to judge and shun us away from Christ.  For judging us and not giving or forgiving the Priest will be judged in the end.  That is my opinion and I do think the priest is wrong!!!!  

  • Asjjca

    Just to add one more point to my opinion, even Christ allowed Judas (who he knew betrayed Him) to partake in the communion.  

  • BobLujano

    If the priest does not want to give him communion it is the priest’s decision and it should be respected. The next question is to ask the priest does he ever see the boy ever receiving communion from him? If not, then can the deacon or a Eucharistic minister give the boy communion? It’s ok if the priest doesn’t want to give him communion but if a Eucharistic minister or another priest wants to give communion to the boy then it shouldn’t be an isuue.