A married gay man in Louisiana was recently denied Holy Communion at his mother's funeral, the New Orleans Advocate reported Tuesday. Tim Ardillo said he was leading his son to receive a blessing at the funeral July 10 when the priest, the Rev. Mark Beard of St. Helena Catholic Church in Amite, Louisiana, denied Ardillo the sacrament.
Beard said he could not give Ardillo the Holy Eucharist because he had a marriage outside of the church, though Ardillo said he was denied because his mother's obituary noted that he was married to a man.
Ardillo served as an altar boy as a child and recited a rosary with his mother as she grew sick. He said he thought the funeral would have been a moment for him to reconnect with his mother and his Catholic roots and expressed his disappointment to the Advocate.
The following Sunday at the church, someone in the parish had passed out anonymous fliers with a portion of the Bible highlighted in red. The passage from Corinthians read: “Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks in judgment of himself.”
Ardillo told the Advocate that he believes this flier was about him.
Homosexuality in Catholicism has become more of a gray area in recent years, particularly since Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina became Pope Francis in 2013. The pope quickly built a reputation for forward thinking and progressivism. He has spoken out clearly on issues such as climate change and global poverty and in July 2013 he shocked many when he said: "If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?"
Both the Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge, which oversees the Amrite church, and New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond have issued apologies to Ardillo on the church's behalf.