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Banned from Communion at Mother's Funeral, Missouri Lesbian Couple Asks Pope for Help

Categories: LGBT

carolandjo.JPG
Courtesy of Carol Parker
Carol Parker and her partner Josephine Martin.
A 65-year-old woman says she's writing to Pope Francis for help after her priest banned her from taking Communion at her mother's funeral.

Carol Parker and her partner of twenty years, Josephine Martin, say that even after twelve years of attending Mass and taking Communion, it wasn't until their priest at the Saint Columban Catholic Church in Chillicothe saw Baker's mother's obituary that he banned them. The obituary mentions that Baker's mother is survived by a daughter and her daughter's partner.

"We were in the choir. We were lectors. Now, we don't have a church in town," Martin tells Daily RFT. "We were planning on being buried there with her, but I guess that's not going to happen now."

Only members in good standing within the Catholic Church are allowed to take Communion, a ceremony where Catholics believe God transforms wine and wafers into the actual blood and body of Jesus. Parker says her priest called her and said she couldn't take Communion anymore -- not even at her mother's funeral -- but she could receive a blessing from him.

"I don't need his blessing," Parker says. "I really don't. I don't want a blessing from someone who is so biased and not open to the congregation."

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Google Maps
St. Columban Catholic Church in Chillicothe.
The couple has vowed to find another church, but as one last long shot, they're asking Pope Francis for help.

"He's such a breath of fresh air for everybody," Parker says of the new pope, who made international headlines recently for asking "Who am I to judge?" in response to a question about gay couples. "He's open to everyone. He wants the Church to be inclusive."

See also: Gary Meier, Openly Gay St. Louis Priest, Reacts to Pope Francis' Remarks on Homosexuality

Parker and Martin are both diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and met at a group for people with the disease. They tried to get married in California in 1998, but protesters caused the ceremony to get called off.

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JeffFran on Flickr
"Who am I to judge?"
The couple moved to Missouri to be with family, especially Parker's aging mother, who died in December. Parker says her mother would have wanted the couple to worship at her funeral, including taking Communion.

"Mom was pretty open about things," Parker says. "I think the fact that I finally found someone, she was just happy about that. She accepted [Martin] into the family."

Parker and in are on the hunt for a new church, and they think they've found one ten minutes away in Hamilton. Their former priest refuses questions from the couple or from reporters.

The couple says they wouldn't have changed Parker's mother's obituary even if they would have known it would cost them their church.

"I said [to Parker], 'Could you have worded it a different way? You could have left me out, and everything would have been fine,'" says Martin, who is referenced as Parker's partner in the obituary. "But she didn't because I've been taking care of her. No one thought this would happen."

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at Lindsay.Toler@RiverfrontTimes.com.


My Voice Nation Help
52 comments
MoJoanne
MoJoanne

When citing the pope's remark "Who am I to judge?," these women and RFT readers would do well to remember that is not all the pope said. The media excerpted a few lines from the totality of the his remarks. They basically quoted the beginning and the end of his response and took out the middle. Please read the full context of the speech. He is not changing the Catholic Church's teaching on homosexuality or sexual relations outside of marriage.


I am sorry for their loss, but Carol Parker and Josephine Martin are not in communion with the Catholic Church. They should know that and have the integrity to not pretend otherwise. No one who is unrepentant of a mortal sin should take the Body and Blood of Christ unworthily. That comes straight out of the Bible. An unmarried heterosexual couple who sleep together should not present themselves for communion either.


The priest did the right thing, and he was charitable by calling her beforehand to speak with her privately about it.

Hoffmeyer Jeffrey L
Hoffmeyer Jeffrey L

12 years of going to church and apparently they havent learned anything. I blame the priest for that.

Jim Phillips
Jim Phillips

And that priest, could he have been gay himself? Could he even been a pedophile?

Brenda McBride Watson
Brenda McBride Watson

Your point didn't sail over my head at all, its you who is being obtuse if you don't see the hypocrite at work here

Anna Probst
Anna Probst

"Lifestyle choice". So, Ryan, the day you sat down and chose to be straight and deny all the gayness boiling in your loins, how difficult was that for you? Man, it must be such a chore to deal with, supressing that gay half of you that you had to choose to do away with. So glad its working so well for you.

Ann Stillwell
Ann Stillwell

I find it interesting how quick people are to jump on the catholic church but let other religions slide and even give them preferential treatment when they clearly have a record of allowing abuse of women or children in their very creeds. Sadly several religions to do this and I'm not refering to just one or holding up just one as an example there are too many to go into.

Becky Huffman
Becky Huffman

But the pedophiles get VIP treatment. Sounds right.

Steve Van Booven
Steve Van Booven

? My point just sailed right over your head didn't it... I'm not defending anyone that is a molester and I agree that the church has not handled it well. Just trying to be fair here

Brenda McBride Watson
Brenda McBride Watson

You know how to get a good cult started? Breed more little followers. That's why the Leviticus banns homosexuality and masturbation. That hardly applies to todays world. The Bible also states if a man dies his widow should have sex with her dead husband brothers until a heir is produced. lol

Brenda McBride Watson
Brenda McBride Watson

Yes molesters come from all walks from life, it's the churches protection of the pedophiles and transferring them to a new crop of victims

Brenda McBride Watson
Brenda McBride Watson

Why would anyone want to belong to a church that they have to hide their true selves from? The Catholic Church is the center of hypocrisy, they hide child molesters and allow them access to abuse more children, and shun these lovely ladies who are not hurting a soul!

Ryan Baker
Ryan Baker

The Bible states homosexuality is a sin. Everyone sins. The idea is to receive forgiveness and not do it again. Therefore being actively gay is knowingly living in sin with no intention of repenting. Should they receive communion while openly living a gay lifestyle? The majority of people who go to church knowingly live in sin haha so from a fairness standpoint (only) yes. I have nothing against homosexuals as people by any means but I don't agree with their lifestyle. I swear, a lot of people don't agree with that lifestyle choice but I don't try to shove it down their throats. I'm just tired of being told by media and society that I'm a piece of shit for not ENDORSING something I don't think is right. Why them hell do you care what I think? I don't parade around telling you how to live.

Nancy Longust Berger
Nancy Longust Berger

Courtney, these ladies kept their personal lives a secret in part because they wanted to remain in good standing with their church of CHOICE. They took holy communion all along under false pretense, because to believe the communion host is indeed the body of Christ they must believe the priest and all he represents within that church--otherwise it's simply a dry round wafer. That means accepting the rules both good and bad. Rules do not change to fit societal dictate. I'm socially liberal myself, that's why I've distanced myself from what I see as the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church. These ladies should have done so long ago too, perhaps, and put their Godly hearts and faith in a church that embraced them wholly.

Douglas C Heimann
Douglas C Heimann

I don't agree with either one really. but my point is this. I'm sure the congregation already knew about this couple. people can be ignorant, but i doubt they were stupid about this. it's just a knee-jerk reaction to the obituary.. they all said.. "well, it's out there now".. I bet if no one would have said boo, no one would have been the wiser.

Tom Clooney
Tom Clooney

They ARE trying to change the rules/attitude of the Catholic Church, in order for the Catholics to be more Christ like and I support that 100%

Todd Williams
Todd Williams

I have to agree with Steve's first comment - while I think the church is behind the times, it's up to them to act on their beliefs. If your leader, the Pope, wants to change doctrine then that's different. As others have stated here, if the doctrine isn't what you believe in, then you leave the church or try to live with that dissonance as many others have. I agree it's socially a terrible thing (because I'm a social liberal)....and I'm also not catholic nor would I ever want to be.

Ryan Baker
Ryan Baker

The Bible states homosexuality is a sin. Everyone sins. The idea is to receive forgiveness and not do it again. Therefore being actively gay is knowingly living in sin with no intention of repenting. Should they receive communion while openly living a gay lifestyle? I mean most sinful people do haha but doesn't that kind of defeat the actual intention? I have nothing against homosexuals as people by any means but I don't agree with their lifestyle. I swear, a lot of people don't agree with that lifestyle choice but I don't try to shove it down their throats. I'm just tired of being told by media and society that I'm a piece of shit for not ENDORSING something I don't think is right. Why the hell do you care what I think? I don't parade around telling you how to live.

Emily Pacheco
Emily Pacheco

This is why I'm not Catholic. Nothing against them, just don't agree with all of the rules. So instead of acting offended, I just don't participate. (My husband's family is all Catholic)

Dana Naylor Walker
Dana Naylor Walker

In truth, it's not the Catholic's table, it's God's table, as are all communion tables. The rules are man made and if the heart is seeking God/loving God, then the body is as worthy as any.

Cheryl Thomas
Cheryl Thomas

The church has the right to enforce its beliefs. They should be glad they aren't Muslims. A 2000 year old religious institution should not be expected to change to accommodate current social norms. My fiancé and I live together and I don't take communion out of respect.

Steve Van Booven
Steve Van Booven

On a side note, can we all stop acting like molesting kids is exclusive to priests? Yes it's beyond terrible and hypocritical but you don't think teachers, coaches, doctors, neighbors, family members... pretty much ALL types of people molest kids as well and at a much higher rate at that? I know you all love to bash religion and religious people but let's be honest here. I would bet money that the percentage of priests that are twisted in this way is very low and less than the percentage among most or all of the groups I mentioned above.

Ed Chris Bender
Ed Chris Bender

sounds like the minister went from Reverend to Asshole.

Courtney Ringle
Courtney Ringle

Ask that same question to the priests to GIVE the communion then go in the back and diddle with the alter boys ? Besides, its not hiding or lying. they dont HAVE to share their personal business to the world to show their worth to their God. Remember, Jesus said that prayer in private is always best.

Judee Renner Sliment
Judee Renner Sliment

And the catholic church wonders why people are abandoning (running from) Catholicism. Who are they, or any of us, to stand in judgement?? Shameful.

Adam Fry
Adam Fry

That will teach them to Tithe.

Chyna Nikole
Chyna Nikole

Just bc they don't come out and talk about their life style at church doesn't mean they shouldn't receive communion! It means they don't want people in their business. This is ridiculous!!!!

Keith Stephens
Keith Stephens

If they had helped hide child molesters, not only could they receive communion, they could land a job in Vatican City. I hear that's a sweet gig, if you can get it.

Nancy Longust Berger
Nancy Longust Berger

Tough one, but if they had been receiving holy communion all those years knowing they were hiding their true selves, lying about their lifestyle that they knew was frowned upon by the foundation edict of their church, how much could that communion have really meant to them anyway?

Courtney Cronin
Courtney Cronin

Why do people think Pope Francis isnt a homophobic piece of garbage? He wont give two shits lesbians were denied a sacrament Judge him by his actions, not his two faced, pseudo-progressive words.

Steve Van Booven
Steve Van Booven

They didn't get kicked out or banned from the church. They just aren't supposed to be able to receive communion. All organizations have rules and guidelines that they operate by. If you don't like it or agree then find another organization but don't think everyone has to change their ways to cater to your life. I'm not trying to start any kind of religious debate, just stating how things work.

Stu Roush
Stu Roush

Typical hypocracy of "Organized Religion"!!! Jesus himself sheltered the outcasts, misunderstood and societies throw-aways and some homophobic priest does this?!?! Shameful...

dalediversity
dalediversity topcommenter

I would have more sympathy if they were hot lesbians

Billy Casagrand
Billy Casagrand

That such Bullshit a persons sexuality has no effect upon how they praise their god and who they are, because they love someone sexually and emtionally of the same sex does not mean they are bad people, and at least they have someone they love and the boldness to be who they wanna be

richardson.beckym
richardson.beckym

That's the most ridiculous and ignorant comment that I've ever seen in response to a form of anti-equality.

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