Saturday, January 21, 2012

Catholic Church bans Down's Syndrome boy from taking communion?

Denum Ellarby and his mother Clare Ellarby
I am guessing a local parish priest made a big mistake here.  My understanding is you have to understand the sacrament in order to participate in it, and not everyone can have the sacrament.  But to suggest a boy with Down's syndrome cannot take communion is just not the case.  Most Down's syndrome Catholics do in fact take communion.  There is a suggestion by the Yorkshire Evening Post that the parish priest intentionally did not invite Denum to the preparation classes and only when they realized that were they informed he was not ready.  
The Daily Mail reports that:  "The church has denied banning Denum and says it hopes he will be ready to participate  in the important religious ceremony in  the future."  The Catholic Church has done a lot for Down's Syndrome awareness.  If some local officials did make a mistake here (and just from these stories it appears they did), the smart move would be to acknowledge their mistake, correct it, and get in front of this story.  The Catholic Church does so much good with Down's Syndrome, so one priest's mistake should not become a big deal.  This is an opportunity to get the bigger and more important message out.  
Update:  To be fair to the priest, this boy may not be ready at this time for this sacrament.  But if that is the case, then school and church officials should have been very upfront with the family from the start and given some expectations of what would be expected from this boy.  There are also conflicting statements of church officials claiming the boy and his family were not participants in the church; yet the boy attends a Catholic parochial school and his parents claim they have been life long members of the parish.  

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