St. Stephen Catholic Church in Michigan denied Holy Communion to Judge Sara Smolenski, the chief judge of Michigan’s 63rd District Court, because she is married to a woman.
Rev. Scott Nolan, the priest at the church located in Grand Rapids, Mich., called Smolenski, 62, on Nov. 23 and asked her not to attend communion, CNN reported, despite that she was baptized at the church, attended the church’s school for first through eighth grades and her parents were married in the church decades ago.
“This is not about me against the priest, and it’s not really me against the church,” Smolenski told CNN. “This feels like selective discrimination. Why choose gay people, and why now?”
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Smolenski said that Nolan called her and said it was good to see her and her wife at church on Sunday but “because you and Linda are married in the state of Michigan, I’d like you to respect the church and not come to communion.”
Six days before the phone call, Smolenski had received communion from Nolan.
Smolenski and her wife are not the only ones the church has denied communion to. Earlier this year, Nolan denied another LGBT couple communion “publicly” during Mass, Smolenski said.
In response to the negative publicity around Nolan’s denial, the priest told CNN affiliate WOOD that the Catholic faith tells him who should receive Holy Communion and who shouldn’t and that denials happen regularly.
“Some of that criteria are just around what’s happening in that person’s life and what do they believe and what are they doing and what are they not doing,” Nolan told WOOD.
The Diocese of Grand Rapids issued a statement in support of Nolan’s decision not to give LGBT couples communion.
“Inclusion and acceptance have been a hallmark of Catholic Churches in the Diocese of Grand Rapids throughout the diocese’s history,” the statement said. “They remain so. They presume, however, a respect on the part of individuals for the teachings and practice of the wider Catholic community. No community of faith can sustain the public contradiction of its beliefs by its own members. This is especially so on matters as central to Catholic life as marriage, which the Church has always held, and continues to hold, as a sacred covenant between one man and one woman.”
However, in November the pope condemned speech that discriminates against people’s homosexual orientation.